Thursday, January 6, 2011


SERMON: First Sunday in Lent, March 13, 2011   Carol A. Black
Heads up! It’s Lent!
There’s a wilderness experience… out there…in the wings. Let’s not miss it!
Our Gospel lesson today tells us vividly about Christ’s temptation, a part of His “wilderness experience.” It seems to emerge as almost a prerequisite for the launching of his formal ministry.
Here is God’s Son Incarnate speaking to us….if we are listening.
Yes, Heads up! It is Lent! And God can speak to focus us in the memory of the “wilderness” of Jesus…..clearly a preparation time for his coming ministry.
 And God,  if we listen, can speak to us during our
              preparation time-
whether it’s for our LENTEN PREPARATION TIME or
                         preparation for our varied ministries in his world. Let’s admit it; we can use all the help we can get to navigate whatever wilderness may be out there!
So just who plays the roles this Gospel story anyway? Of course, there’s Jesus! He’s fresh from the waters of a Jordan baptism. And why would he want to go on such a wilderness outing, even if it is the Spirit who is leading him off?
Wildernesses may frighten, may they not? A barren place? A desert? A maze-like place that lures yet holds no promise of pleasure!
 What of them- these wildernesses that may bewilder and harbor temptation? Forty days and nights are a long, long time to be alone and not to eat. To fast and pray and say to the heavenly Father God of all that one is ready now to meet the test….to let the rest be up to Him!

This is a hungry Jesus now. The Tempter makes his leap to seize the moment.
If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread!”
What’s so wrong with that?
A Theology of Personal Glory that would be.  This calls for a Theology of the Cross. Yes, the cross. This time of preparation, no doubt spent in prayer and fasting is all to prepare for what’s to come! There is the launching of a formal ministry, but ultimately, it’s all about Jesus and the cross!
                           He is the bread….
                                      and so instead
 He knows to say to this first temptation:“ ‘One does not live by bread alone,
    But by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ “
And now, Temptation # TWO….. or is it TEST # TWO?  
We know the difference in our hearts without some fancy Greek to show us so with the two differing words…..we know!
God tests….to strengthen….. like the steel that must be tempered on a fiery day
 To purify, to burn, to yield before it can be strong!
The Devil tempts to weaken. Big time difference there is here!
The Devil takes Him up…to Temple pinnacle so high, to
stand against the sky, then the Devil mocks again;
“ ‘If you are the Son of God,
Throw yourself down, for it is written
“ ‘He will command is angels concerning you;
And on their hands, they will bear you up,
So that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ “
And once again, that Scriptural reservoir of Christ spills forth:
“ ‘Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
 But, of course, the Devil tries again. It’s off to the mountain top this time , a “very high one” , says Matthew.
We know the gist. This time it’s an offering by the Devil to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world that could be seen from there. All. All …..of the world! If only Jesus would bow down and worship him!!!!
Again, it’s the Scripture in which our Lord is steeped that bellows forth, I’d guess…..that gives him strength to counter Tempter’s power.
 It’s God’s inspired Word so spoken here by Him who himself is the Word!
  It’s the strategy that works, for in such boldness he declares: “Away with you Satan, for it is written, “’Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.’”    
        And Satan left him. He left him.
                        And Angels came and ministered to Jesus.
So maybe, just maybe, in all of this, we see how God may set the scope for us in our individual and corporate ministries.
 Maybe this story can help us to prepare for service catching some hints, you know, get a sort of “heads up” on how to meet and beat the Devil???
                  And, in the process maybe we can pick up hints on how to follow, like Christ, both humbly and boldly in service, navigating the wildernesses, letting God shape us in the process.
Lent can be a kind of “spiritual boot camp” says one of my sources. What about our own versions of “forty days and forty nights?” We need disciplined training, time apart, prayer, time with God’s word to prepare within our hearts, and souls and minds…….And famished though we be,
 we’ll learn to see the Tempter’s Snare
……… disguised as harmless BREAD or
                                                             SAFETY NET or

So where’s the cross in all of this?
     That cross that saves me, tired, frazzled by my temptations
                                 Calling out to me to overload,
                                          Or hit the road when what I need is just to stay a while,
                                                Or take into my body what I do not need
                                                                      Or hardly ever heed, or care enough
                                                                          For ones whose times are rough?

 The bottom line?
  By grace alone can testing be resolved or cross embraced.
By  grace alone, sin’s face can see me humble, unafraid.
By grace alone God’s Word empowers to smooth a wilderness way.
The promises of our Baptism prepare us for our unique ministries and testing.
It’s out upon the street,
        in people that we meet,
               in illness and defeat,
                      in insecure retreat,
                                      in pain and all of life that is not sweet that wilderness may play its role for us. To get down and get our hands dirty anyway, in whatever selfless service we can offer with our gifts is what it’s all about.
The Eucharist, the Meal, celebrated as commanded in remembrance of Him can sustain us …..
                        just as angels ministered to Him.
Remember, Jesus had that scriptural reservoir from which he drew to both arm and calm.
We can meet our wildernesses- those like my brain tumor detour or your individual trials of which I cannot know, my dear friends of St. Matthew’s or St. Paul’s.
We can let the Spirit lead us even here.
We can pray and say we’re ready for the Tempter.
  Let us be so full of God’s good news that it is always there to feed our souls and keep us brave.
 And then, perhaps as angels come, we too can pass it on--- this News, this Bread, the All that is of Christ in Lenten times……. and always.

Carol's Sermon Pr. Tech

See posted sermon on Black Board. CB

Carol Blog Pr. Tech. Thurs. Jan.6, 2010

Well, here we are. I've been absent from composing blogs as concentration was centered on preparing for the tech-enhanced sermon presentation today. Wow! This class is unbelievably substantive, interesting and downright helpful. Two of my fellow blog partners Jim and Jenny, presented today  There was  commendable depth in both presentations. I'd say both of those presentations were outstanding, each in its own right. The preaching styles of Jenny and Jim are each unique, consistent and in harmony with their personality differences. There's an incredible comfort level in the class as we sense the vitality and supportive nature of Dr. Zimmann's groundwork laid before the presentations. Tech supporters enabled all our sermons today to go well. I felt confident as I delivered my sermon knowing my instructor and classmates would be constructively critical and supportive too in their analysis. All sermons today were of high quality, and I could not miss the true sense of "call" evident in my classmates' prsentations and comments that followed. George will present tomorrow. I'm looking forward to hearing his as well as Donna's as she and I had the same text, Matthew 4: 1-11, the first Sunday in Lent lectionary Gospel. I can hardly believe the class will end tomorrow. It's been a valuable experience! 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Carol Wed. Blog Sermon Outline Draft

Well, here we go. Outline for tomorrow's sermon. Tomorrow? Can't be!! But it is, so here it is....for now. Enjoy!
Sermon Draft Outline Preaching and Technology Class LTSG January 3-7, 2011 Carol A. Black  Th  PM #2
Text- Matthew 4: 1-11   For the First Sunday in Lent   March 13, 2011
I. Introduction
A. Calling Attention to the Wilderness Temptation Focus
B .Characters and Context
1.       Jesus
2.       Spirit
3.       The Tempter
4.       Angels
5.       We? 
C. Action and Ironies
     1. Being Led
     2. Vulnerable Yet Armed and Ready
II. Body

A .Temptation One with Response

B .Temptation Two with Response

C .Temptation Three with Response
III. Closing
A. Calling Attention to the Sermon Function
B. Ministering by Angels
C .Learning Lessons
D. Passing it on!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Carol Resource Search Results and Commentary Report
Specific graphic sites for Power Point development will be cited later.
Interview with a pastor friend is also a source.
Bibleworks 8 provided some support also in researching the sermon base and underlying Greek.

The above are my primary sites for the development of my first Sunday in Lent Sermon text, Matthew 4:1-11.This is Matthew's account of Jesus' temptation by the Devil following Christ's baptism by John the Baptist. Matthew places the story between the baptism of Jesus and the beginning of' his ministry.
In addition. I will be using some reference to both the Interpreter's Bible and Harper's Bible Dictionary.
Likewise, I have communicated with a Pastor friend who had used some phraseology in a sermon regarding cultivating such a closeness with Scriptures so one could almost "Dream in Scripture." I most likely will refer to her comments in my sermon.
Brian Stoffregen in his exegetical notes at Crossmarks makes a big deal out of the basic difference between two significant Greek verbs, one meaning " to test", the other meaning  "to tempt." I see reference in one of my sources to God's testing to strengthen and Satan's tempting to weaken. That I need to continue to ponder! What a difference. In the digging out the text, I notice that the WorkingPreacher site mentions the wilderness as a "place of preparation for God's next step." The forty days and forty nights of fasting are aspects I must ponder. There's a lot to ponder here ,and I'm seeing things I never had thought about before. That can only be good.  

Carol Blog Jan. 4 Articles

Ethics, Power Points, Plus....       (Jan. 4)
And so it's on we go! How appropriate to deal with the ethics involved in using resources and being fair. From the "in between" vantage point, the pastor can be an effective influence on parishioners who deserve up front approaches to whom and what their pastor is reading, his or her attitudes toward the readings and above all the relationship of those readings, images or inferences gleaned from  the Scriptural contexts. The "qualified yes" Power point use article of Andrew Root arouses in a reader courage. I like the point that the images are the point in Power Point and not necessarily the words. Again, faithfulness to the text ideas is an essential point here The No to Power Point article raises questions but I respect his view. I'm just glad Philip is not my pastor. And the Witte article is right on in its assertion of "building ethos and authority" no longer purely depending on" preaching or its sacred source."  Guess, however, I"d have to say "Careful here! Discretion, prayer and Spirit inspired thought must take place here. So it's on from here. These are my main points for now. Back later!   

Monday, January 3, 2011

Carol Blog on Matthew 4:1-11

The sermon to be developed will be preached at my two Teaching Parishes, one a medium sized congregation with about one hundred fifty each Sunday, the other a very small rural charge with only about twenty-five per Sunday. The text is Matthew 4:1-11 and represents the lectionary for the first Sunday of Lent, March 13, 2011.
The text reminds us that there are wildernesses out there. And there certainly was a significant wilderness for Jesus too. Maybe we can learn from him.

The focus of this sermon is going to center on Christ's struggle in the testing scenario. In this passage I believe God seeks for us to realize that the temptation was real for Jesus. How else could he ever understand ours? I'll consider just how he coped, what strategies he used, from where he derived his strength. And then I will develop a platform from which to deal with the function of my sermon. I would like to give my parishioners hope that in their own wilderness situations, they can ponder letting Jesus lead, letting him become the kind of Jesus he really seeks to be in the lives of today's Christians.

Some resources for this sermon include  Brian Stoffregen's Exegetical Notes at CrossMarks and . I also like to use Interpreter's Bible references. I'll come back to talk about those resources later. For now though, I really need to ponder this temptation story on my own. A temptation story this surely is. How strange when we stop to think of Jesus' being tempted. And yet, if we fully acknowledge his being both divine and human perhaps we should not be surprised at all.
It's the timing of it all that seems almost ironic. Having just been baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. What obedience we see in following the Spirit here! I'm thinking simple graphics right now. Really simple. Maybe I'll use footprints, the number 40, bread with an "X" across it (for there was none during the fasting), stones, more bread and again an "X", a high temple point, a high mountain. All these images come to my mind. And selective silent moments with the projected graphics may be effective. Maybe. Or maybe not. These are all initial thoughts, and I need to keep digging deeper into the text. But that's it for now. I'll be back.