Amy Jones,
Agape Coordinator
Dear God, we come to worship you today. 
We come to pray, and listen.
You always hear us. 
Help us to hear you. Amen
Luke 4:1-13

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3 The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.’ 4 Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.” ’

5 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
6 And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ 8 Jesus answered him, ‘It is written,
“Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” ’

9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you”,
11 and
“On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’

12 Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’ 13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
This week I met a woman who was seeking prayers for her adult son who is sick. She said she knows that prayer works because he survived childhood leukemia and she’s sure that is because she prayed so fervently for him that God let him live.

This was hard to hear. A mentor of mine lost his daughter to childhood leukemia. His daughter probably would be about the same age as her son, had she lived. When his daughter died, people told him his faith must have been deficient. People actually told him that maybe he didn’t pray hard enough. 

Some think that Jesus’s temptation teaches us how to deal with the temptations of everyday life, but I don’t know many people who have such simple lives. Very few of us encounter such clear choices between good and bad presented by the devil in person. Our ethical and moral dilemmas are usually much more opaque, written in shades of grey.

More impressive than Jesus’s willpower against temptation is his satisfaction with letting God be God. It is not Jesus’s job to prove that God is powerful or divine or present or active. God is God whether Jesus succumbs to the temptation to prove it or not. 

Sometimes people get very sick. Sometimes people die. These are scenarios we have seen play out over and over again during the pandemic. For some, prayer can be a solace that fortifies the soul. For others, prayer is impossible and a greater burden than they can bear during an already difficult time. In both cases, God is still God. God does not need us to prove that God is God. You do not have that kind of responsibility. You don’t even have that kind of power! God is present and powerful all on God’s own.
Omnipotent God, ease our anxiety over things outside our control. Resolve our temptation to prove that you are God. Give us peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
Amy Jones
Amy Jones, Agape Coordinator
Amy Jones our Agape Coordinator is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. In this tradition, deacons are ordained clergy who bridge the ministry of the church with the needs of the world, and vice versa. In more than 15 years of ministry, she has worked in churches, in children and family ministry, higher education, and nonprofits. In each setting, her focus has been on matching the resources of the church with the needs of the world. Agape Community Kitchen is exactly the type of work she was called to do. 

Amy can be reached by email at:
The Presbyterian Church in Westfield continues to burn as a light in the darkness as our community weathers this fearsome storm of illness. Our reach of care continues to extend far beyond our immediate borders. You can help us make a real impact in the lives of others by joining in our work through your time, your talents, and also in the fruits of your labors.
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