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March 5, 2017: The First Sunday in Lent

Collect of the Day

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Readings of the Day

First Reading

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
A Reading from the book of Genesis.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.

Psalm 32

    Happy are they whose transgressions are forgiven, * and whose sin is put away!
    Happy are they to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, * and in whose spirit there is no guile!
    While I held my tongue, my bones withered away, * because of my groaning all day long.
    For your hand was heavy upon me day and night; * my moisture was dried up as in the heat of summer.
    Then I acknowledged my sin to you, * and did not conceal my guilt.
    I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” * Then you forgave me the guilt of my sin.
    Therefore all the faithful will make their prayers to you in time of trouble; * when the great waters overflow, they shall not reach them.
    You are my hiding-place; you preserve me from trouble; * you surround me with shouts of deliverance.
    “I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go; * I will guide you with my eye.
    Do not be like horse or mule, which have no understanding; * who must be fitted with bit and bridle, or else they will not stay near you.”
    Great are the tribulations of the wicked; * but mercy embraces those who trust in the Lord.
    Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the Lord; * shout for joy, all who are true of heart.

Second Reading

Romans 5:12-19
A Reading from Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome.

Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned—sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

Holy Gospel

Matthew 4:1-11
After Jesus was baptized, he was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Father Kruger’s Sermon for today

Lord God, through the written word, and the spoken word, may we know your Living Word; Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen

The text which we heard read from St. Matthew’s Gospel this morning is often called “The Temptation of Jesus.” Several commentators have suggested that a better title might be: “The Testing of the Son of God.”

The primary concern of this text is not – can the devil lure Jesus into this or that sin – but rather the text reveals that Jesus has been tested in every respect just like us. St Matthew, writing to his Jewish community, wants his readers to connect Jesus 40 days of testing in the wilderness with Israel’s 40 years of wondering in the desert.

Of course the big difference between Israel and Jesus is that Israel fails, or sins, at every turn while Jesus is able to pass the testing and overcome the devil.

This should raise some questions for us. For starters… is Jesus really like us. Sin is often considered part of the human condition. Therefore is Jesus truly like us when he is said to have never sinned? Christians have often found it easiest to emphasize the divine nature of Christ: God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, These words tend to flow quite easily from our tongues.

But only a few lines later the creed seems to boldly state the opposite, that Jesus Christ is fully human: he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. How do we make sense of this apparent contradiction?

Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury offers a thought that has helped me in his book; ‘Tokens of Trust’.

He writes: “Christians have used all kinds of images to make clearer the relation between the eternal divine life of the Word made flesh and the human individual Jesus of Nazareth. One image that has helped me a good deal over the years is to think about music for a moment. When you see a great performer, a singer or instrumentalist, at work realizing a piece of music, you are looking at one human being at the limit of their skill and concentration.

All their strength, their freedom, and you could even say their love is focused on bringing to life the work and vision of another person.”

[Let’s do that for a moment as we listen to Anthony play Bach’s Fugue in B-flat major from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1.]

“Here is someone who is completely themselves, free and independent, and yet for this time the whole of their being, their life, their freedom, their skill, is taken up with this mysterious, different thing that is the work to be brought to life.

The vision and imagination of another person, the composer, has to come through — not displacing the human particularity of the performer but ‘saturating’ that performer’s being for the time of the performance.

Now, could we imagine what it might be like for a whole lifetime to be given up to ‘performance’ in that way? Because that, surely, is what we’re trying to say about Jesus as a human being. He is performing God’s love, God’s purpose, without a break, without a false note, without a stumble; yet he is never other than himself, with all that makes him distinctly human taken up with this creative work.

If we look at great musicians, we see both the intensity of the struggle and the strength of the joy that goes with it. Whatever is happening, these performers are not becoming less human, less distinctive. In the fullness of their skill and their joy, another is made present.

So with Jesus; this is a human life and a human will whose power and joy is the performance of who God is and what God wants. When the early Christians insisted that we could not imagine sin in Jesus, they were not saying something negative but something positive; there is nothing in this performance that blocks out the composer.

And when they insisted that there was no ‘gap’ in Jesus’ humanity where God fitted in, they were insisting that this was the performance of one work only — the humanity of the performer is most full and real in the performance. Each of us is being called to ‘perform’ the music of God. Our primary purpose is to bring the ‘music’ of God to life in our day to day living.

Lent is less an insistence that we cease our sinning so much as a clarion call to fully live out who God has made us.

Our Diocesan Convention which I attended on Friday and Saturday was a wonderful snapshot of the many ways in which the saints of New Jersey are doing just this; ’performing’ the ‘music’ of God. There is a lot going on in the diocese and there is a lot more that still needs to be done.

May each of us consider afresh the vocation that God is calling us to in this Parish, in our wider Diocese and in the world.

And, where we are afraid or reluctant to get involved may the Spirit that drove Jesus into the wilderness, nudge us, and if necessary drive us into our vocation that we might be most fully human. Amen.

Notes on the Readings

Celebrant and Homilist:
The Rev. Andrew David Kruger

Deacon: Clive Oscar Sang

Seminarian: Allison Burns-LaGreca

Verger: Anthony Francis Vitale

Organist: Anthony J. Rafaniello

  • Prelude: Adagio, from “Partita on Hyfrydol”– Charles Callahan
  • Choir Anthem: “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven” – Text: Henry Francis Lyte. Music: Mark Andrews
  • Postlude: “Nun danket alle Gott” – Sigfrid Karg-Ebert

Audio Files

The Worship Service

10 AM: Rite Two


Prelude see above
Processional Hymn H # 460
Acclamation BCP 355
Collect for Purity BCP 355
Gloria S # 278
Collect of the Day BCP 218
The Lesson Exodus 24: 12-18
Psalm Psalm 2
The Epistle 2 Peter 1: 16-21
Sequence Hymn H # 137
The Gospel Matthew 17: 1-9
Sermon Father Andy
Nicene Creed BCP 358
Prayers of the People
Confession BCP 360
Absolution BCP 360
The Peace BCP 360


Choir Anthem see above
Offertory Hymn H # 135
Eucharistic Prayer A BCP 361
Sanctus S # 128
The Lord’s Prayer BCP 364
Agnus Dei S # 165
The Invitation BCP 364
Communion Hymns Behold the Lamb, H 321
Post Communion Prayer
Recessional Hymn H # 618
Postlude see above