Summary: Second sermon for Lent 2006

(The introduction to this sermon was dramatic reading from the Lenten Series, ‘The Lenten Road,’ published by The Center for Creative Communication for the Parish. © 2004)

(1) Look at this photo for a moment. It’s magnificent! It’s majestic! It’s appealing! It’s warm! It’s sunny! What a beautiful place to go hiking and camping! Why would anyone want to complain about being in such a place? Well, they have and they do!

Mike Neifert, in the February 1997 issue of Light and Life magazine, shares the following responses, actual responses, from comment cards given to the staff members at Bridger Wilderness Area in 1996. (Click for bold items.)

Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands.

Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.

Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs.

Please spray the wilderness to rid the areas of these pests.

Please pave the trails so they can be snow-plowed during the winter.

Chair lifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them.

The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.

A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call

Reflectors need to be placed on trees every 50 feet so people can hike at night with flashlights.

Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.

A MacDonald’s would be nice at the trailhead.

The places where trails do not exist are not well marked.

Too many rocks in the mountains.

Where’s the majesty? Where’s the beauty?

(2)This is the second of our Lenten series, ‘The Lenten Road,’ entitled ‘The Road to the Wilderness.’

(3) Last week we began our journey with ‘The Road to Damascus’ with a look at the light of God and what that light meant for Paul and still means for us.

The Road to Damascus (click) was a road of confrontation about being ‘knocked off our high horse’ like Paul was on the way to Damascus. He was confronted by the Lord as to his efforts to stop the faith, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” and then to be redirected in a new way, ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’

The Road to Damascus (click) was also a road of transformation. Last week we only heard read a part of the entire story.

After the dramatic experience we looked at, Paul went onto Damascus where he began preaching that Christ was the Messiah. It was a message that was 180 degrees from what he had been preaching.

It confused both the believers and those with whom Paul had aligned. And it would almost cost Paul is life because those with whom he had once agreed became his sworn enemies.

But the transformation was unmistakable because it was a transformation that was made by the power of God. This is what we read in Acts 9:21 and 22, ‘All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who persecuted Jesus’ followers with such devastation in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And we understand that he came here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests.” Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.’

(4) What kind of a road then is ‘The Road to the Wilderness?’

I remember going to Phoenix 10 years ago this summer for our International Youth Convention and hearing about this wonderful park that we could go to and hang out prior to the convention. And my picture of this park was that of green grass and large shade trees just like we have back here in the Midwest.

Was I surprised! There was hardly any grass at all just desert, cactus, and lots of sagebrush. Sort of like this picture. (5)

But, what kind of a road is the Road to the Wilderness?

It is a road of temptation. (click) We read in verse 1 of Matthew, ‘Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil.’

On this road Jesus’ own faith and relationship with the Father would be severely tempted because He will be tempted to use His tremendous power to fulfill three very human needs and desires.

(6) To meet legitimate needs (in this case hunger) in an illegitimate way. In Matthew 4:2 we read, ‘For forty days and forty nights he ate nothing and became very hungry.’ Now, hunger is a legitimate need but Satan appeals to Jesus’ power and ability to break the self-imposed discipline of the fast by immediately turning stones to bread so that He could satisfy His hunger.

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