Lenten Practices in Awareness & Invitation

Sunday, February 26, 2023 – Matthew 4:1-11

People of Peace – indeed, peace be with you. Thank you.
Welcome to the season of Lent. This is a time of particular reflection and
intentional spiritual practice. Some years I think Lent has been my favorite
season of the church calendar.

For much of my life I have enjoyed theological reflection, trying to describe
or quantify my life of faith, or trying a new spiritual practice to add a fresh
spark to my relationship with Jesus.

I remember my first Lenten season in full-time ministry. I was serving at a
congregation in the Twin Cities, and each week our staff would come
together for a mid-week meeting. My first Ash Wednesday at this church we
sat around a conference table and the senior pastor invited us each to
share our intended Lenten discipline.

At this time in my life, I was a big fan of the most highly educated soda, that
being…Dr. Pepper.

In my youthful exuberance and lack of planning, when it came to my turn, I
told my staff that I was giving up soda for Lent. People nodded, and at least
one eyebrow raised as if to say, “Really? You sure? Okaaayyyy…”
“Lenten Practices in Awareness & Invitation” Jeske, Matthew 4:1-11; p.1

That senior pastor liked to meet over lunch, and on that particular Ash
Wednesday, I was invited to join Pastor for lunch. We went to a local burger
& fries restaurant, and when the waiter arrived, Pastor ordered a glass of
water, and what do you think I ordered?

Yes, that’s right, a Dr. Pepper. Two hours into my Lenten discipline, and I
was already off track.

There was no internal dialogue of “should I or shouldn’t I”. This was simply
a case of not paying attention to what I was doing.
With that in mind, I wonder what the role of paying attention is for our
spiritual lives and our Lenten practices.

In an effort to give some space to pay attention to our surroundings this
morning, I’m going to invite you to take a moment or two to look around this
worship space. Tap into your theological imagination and child-like wonder.
What do we see or hear or feel in this space that draws our hearts and
minds to God?

Let’s start by looking up, to our left and our right, what do you see?

Stained Glass, with symbols that tell the story of our tradition and
theological history. And names that remind us of early saints in this church,
to whom we are connected as members of the Body of Christ across time
and space.

We see another story told through art over there by the doors, a relief of the
Last Supper, grounding us in the imagery and story of Maundy Thursday,
and Holy Communion.

We see symbols of the cross, reminding us of the way that Jesus died,
grounding us in the imagery and story of Good Friday, and then too of
Easter Sunday.

What else do we see? Of course, we see this pulpit in which I stand. Here,
by the grace of God, we read and hear the Word of God and the
proclamation of the Good News of Jesus the Christ.

Is this the only place we can encounter the Word of God? Absolutely not.
What a gift it is that we have access and opportunity to read and hear and
discern the ongoing story of the triune God in our history and in our midst.

How about the Table set for Holy Communion? Common elements of bread
and wine (along with gluten-free wafers and grape juice), couched in the

Word of God – that through the sacred mystery of faith invite us to
encounter the presence of Jesus the Christ: in, with, and under these
simple elements.

And then there is the Baptismal Font, here at the front of the worship
space. In the waters of baptism we are made members of the Body of
Christ: called, affirmed, and sent forth to share in Christ’s own identity and
mission for the world.

What else, what else? Oh yes, of course! We hear and feel and join in with
the songs and spoken words of our worship liturgy. Thank you Jill,
Resounding Joy ringers, Choir members, and our other worship leaders.
What a gift!

Throughout this Lenten journey, we will be reflecting on the structures we
use in worship. If you’re a visual learner and would like to follow along, you
can turn to page 92 in the ELW, the cranberry hymnal, in the pew in front of

Here are the descriptions of the four movements of our liturgical worship:
Gathering: “The Holy Spirit calls us together as the people of God.”
Word: “God speaks to us in scripture reading, preaching, and song.”
Meal: “God feeds us with the presence of Jesus Christ.”
Sending: “God blesses us and sends us in mission to the world.”
What are the two words that are in each of these four descriptions? What
are the two necessary elements of worship?

Liturgy © 2022 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Used by permission under OneLicense # A-706920.

Liturgy © True Vine Music (TrueVinemusic.com). All rights reserved. Used by permission under CCLI license #11177466.

“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”; text: Martin Luther, 1483-1546; tr. Lutheran Book of Worship; music: Martin Luther, 1483-1546; text © 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship, admin. Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Used by permission under OneLicense # A-706920.

“Come to the Table”; Text and music © 1991 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music/ASCAP, c/o Integrity Media, Inc., 1000 Cody Road, Mobile, AL 36695 & Juniper Landing Music (adm by Word Music) & Word Music/ASCAP. Used by permission.

God Will Make A Way/Don Moen/copyright 1990 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music/CCLI

Liturgy © 2022 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Used by permission under OneLicense # A-706920.

Liturgy © True Vine Music (TrueVinemusic.com). All rights reserved. Used by permission under CCLI license #11177466.