Ginger Litman-Koon, Isle of Palms, SC

Warm-up Question

Where do you get your news? How do you hear about things going on in the world?

The News ME-dia

The latest news media app, News360, advertises that it will tailor the news you read to your exact tastes and interests: “News360 brings the most interesting news stories from around the web, tailored individually to each one of our 7+ million users worldwide. Whether you’re into Cryptocurrencies or Crochet, News360 can find the content you care about. News360 will keep learning about your tastes as you use it.” Whether we subscribe to News 360, the New York Times, Fox News, or just scroll through Facebook and Twitter, the news we see and hear can often reflect the news we want to hear. If one news outlet affirms our worldview, we keep reading. If another offends us, we block it. The possibilities and perspectives to choose from are endless, when it comes to processing what’s going on in the world around us.

A lot can be learned about a person by looking at their subscriptions. That could be the news media you subscribe to, or things like satellite packages, Youtube channels, podcasts, or other publications. A subscription is more than casual consumption. It implies commitment to the content, products, or message being offered. The online or print media we surround ourselves with begin to describe what stories we “buy into,”and even define the over-arching narrative we use to shape our own personal worldview. We all subscribe to different stories – from one source or another – and the more influences we come in contact with, the more stories will be competing for our attention and commitment.

Discussion Questions

  • What do you subscribe to? Online or otherwise?
  • If you made a list of your subscriptions, what would it say about you?
  • Do you think media content influences you? How?

First Sunday in Lent

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

Romans 10:8b-13

Luke 4:1-13

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

In the reading from the Gospel of Luke this week, we hear a set of exchanges between Jesus and the Devil in the wilderness. Jesus is about to go out and begin his public ministry. He’s gathering disciples, teaching them about the kingdom, and setting out to spread the story of God’s love that he was sent to earth to bring. First, however, he undergoes a time of trial. Jesus’ temptation in the desert is a feat of strength – both physical and spiritual – to prepare him for the journey to come. This test will show if, in his humanity, Jesus can hold on to divine truth in the face of temptation. 

In this passage, we overhear the conversation between Jesus and the devil. What we hear in their dialogue is the juxtaposition of God’s story with the devil’s story, of God’s Truth vs. the Devil’s truth. God’s Truth is that true happiness comes from God alone. The Devil’s version of the truth is this: You can have what you want, as much as you want, when you want it… if you’re only willing to play by his rules. 

The Devil comes at Jesus trying to convince him of a story where bowing to temptation, earthly power and the ways of darkness produce results that will satisfy us. In contrast, God’s story is that God who is faithful, loving and full of mercy, can alone provide us with what we truly need, want and desire.

And Jesus had a choice. He could cave to the persuasive and sometimes overpowering story that the ways of darkness try to get us to believe…Or he can cling to God’s Word, hold tightly onto faith, and let God’s story win out over the Devil’s lies.

In a way, this is the struggle that is lifted up by this season of Lent. During Lent, we are invited to shore up our footing as we stand on God’s Word, to stand up to the temptations of the world  that strive constantly to draw us away from God. Lent is an opportunity to re-commit ourselves to God’s narrative, to strip away the false narratives of the world, and let the story we know to be true to take root and grow in our lives.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you think it was hard for Jesus to face the Devil in the wilderness? Why or why not?
  • Is the Devil’s version of the truth tempting? 
  • What temptations do people struggle with today?
  • What are ways we can immerse ourselves in God’s story?

Activity Suggestions

Build-A-Story:  Create a silly story one word at a time. Have one person start with a word, and then go clockwise around the room, creating a story. Each person can say one word or say “period,” to end a sentence.

Closing Prayer

Merciful God, open our hearts to hear your voice speaking truth in our lives. May your story of salvation guides us as we walk together in faith. Amen.