Lent 1c – Sunday 17th February 2012
Luke 4: 1-13
Leicester is a wonderful city. Sitting at the heart of the East Midlands it truly is an English gem of a city and a county. I feel very proud to have my roots in this city and I will always have a fond place in my heart for it.
Leicester is also a very historic city. It seemed that every which way you turned when I was a child it had a historical connection!
I remember when I was a young lad I used to go on cycle rides that would take me out on the old Roman road that today is named Gartree Road. This road traced the old Colchester to Chester route of Via Devana … and I used to walk along Devana Road to go to school every morning.
At the same time I used to go to concerts put on by the Leicester Philharmonic Choir, of which my dad was a member. More often than not, they used to take place in the quite wonderful De Montfort Hall, a venue whose name was inspired with a historical connection that Leicester had with the De Montfort family that originated in 12th Century France.
In fact, my dad used to work at Montfort Knitting Mills, which was situated on Tudor Road. The Hosiery industry was a very large presence in Leicester, and one of the most famous brands was Wolsey Socks. Of course, this was named after Leicester’s association with Cardinal Wolsey … Henry VIII’s right hand fixer … who died at Leicester Abbey in 1530.
To get to where my dad worked you had to drive down King Richards Road, which was not far from the bridge over the river Soar where, my dad confidently assured me, it was said that King Richard’s body had been slung following the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Dad’s! Never believe a word they say!
My reason for wandering down this particular avenue of history is because of the announcement last week that King Richard III wasn’t actually unceremoniously dumped over the side of a bridge but in actual fact was buried in the Greyfriars Church. In modern day Leicester, he was found underneath a Council owned car park and with the historical connection ratified it became one of the feature news stories of last week.
One of most popular misconceptions about King Richard III arises from Shakespeare’s portrayal of him as a despotic hunchback tyrant. The temptation to follow in the Bards footsteps is an easy one to make … and approaching the season of Lent and the question of temptation it’s a good link to follow.
What do we make of Lent? Is it just about fasting, temptation and what we can give up? For me, Lent should be a thoughtful and provocative journey, an examination of our faith and where we’re headed. It should allow us to see how we’re equipped to deal with the demands of kingdom life, how we’re being shaped and moulded. And at the heart of this quest is the Bible, God’s word. How should we use it? What should we take from it?
David Lose over at WorkingPreacher.org, in an article entitled Trust and Temptation, makes a very interesting point with regard to this:
In each case Jesus replies with Scripture. Over the years people have made a great deal about that, inviting us to respond to life’s challenges by remembering or quoting Bible verses. And while there may be something to that, I wonder if it’s not so much that Jesus quotes Scripture to deflect temptation as it is that Jesus finds in Scripture the words to give voice to his trust. Because at the heart of each reply is Jesus’ absolute trust in – and dependence on – God for his identity and future.
There is a crucial link between trust and temptation. To the degree that we trust God for our daily needs, for a sense of purpose, for our identity as a child of God, the temptations of the world have, frankly, little appeal. But to the degree that we allow our natural insecurity to lead us to mistrust God, we are open to the possibility, appeal, and temptation of the proposition that it is all up to us, that God is not able to provide and so we’d better take matters into our own hands.
But of course it’s not enough just to say that. Indeed, just saying that can make people feel worse, precisely we know we do not trust God as we should. So after talking about this, I’d invite us also to practice it. Because trust, like anything else, is strengthened through practice.
Perhaps that would be a good exercise for all of us this Lent. Trust. What do we trust to God? What do we trust to our own strength? In fact, should there be anything that we don’t trust to God? And do we see trust as an active or passive act? Quite often I feel the temptation just to sit back and trust God. But on many occasions trusting God comes with a task attached, an action required. There’s a great depth of wisdom and understanding that goes hand in hand with trust, and I feel it’s a mighty lesson I need to learn.