Dear Members and Friends of St. Stephen,
Grace and peace to you in this New Year. We had a wonderful service yesterday with great music, and both Thanksgiving for Baptism and Affirmation of Baptism. As we sang “Wade in the Water,” water from the font was sprinkled on all of us to remind us of our baptism. On Sunday, January 27, the Annual Congregational Meeting will be held immediately after worship. Please enter this important date in your calendars.
This coming Sunday our Gospel reading is the story of the Temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus had just been baptized by John in the River Jordan. The Holy Spirit descended upon him and the voice from heaven said, “This is my son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” And then right away, Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The devil tempts Jesus, “If you are the Son of God…” Jesus’ sonship is the basis of what is to follow. How will he live out his identity as God’s son? Will he betray his true identity or remain faithful? Our baptism too sends us out into the wilderness of the world to grapple with life’s temptations, the forces of evil, and the tests of faith that daily come our way. Will we live out of our true identity as God’s beloved sons and daughters? Or will we betray our true identity as God’s people with selfish actions that aim to control life for our own benefit? Jesus remained faithful in the wilderness. The forces of evil met their match in Jesus Christ. God will answer the petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Deliver us from evil.” Jesus is with us in our times of struggle and temptation, to help us and strengthen us, and to forgive us and renew us when we fail.
Blessings as you ponder the Scripture Between Sundays,
Erick Johnson, Interim Pastor
St. Stephen Lutheran Church
Sunday’s Scripture Reading
Matthew 4:1-17; Psalm 91:9-12
For This Week
Questions for Reflection:
How do temptations draw on our identity as children or people of God? How do Jesus’ responses to temptation help you think about your own response to temptation? What human need is at the heart of each temptation? How are these needs evident in your life?
Monday, Psalm 2:7-8, Psalm
Tuesday, Judges 13:1-7, The Birth of Samson
Wednesday, Isaiah 11:1-9, God’s Peaceful Kingdom
Thursday, Zechariah 3:1-10, Joshua and Satan
Friday, Numbers 31:21-24, Cleansing by Fire
Saturday, Isaiah 40:1-11, A Voice in the Wilderness