Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Luke 4:1-15
Remembering Who We Are
Lent 1 (Communion)
February 14, 2016
We are beginning the Sundays In Lent today. Lent is the 6 week season of the Church year before the events of Holy Week, the crucifixion of Christ on Good Friday and the resurrection on Easter. During Lent we focus on the death of Christ for our sins and our response to Christ’s call to follow Him. As we begin the Sundays In Lent we come around God’s table to partake of the Sacrament of Communion that helps us remember who we are as God’s people and who God calls us to be.
So, who are we? Maybe to begin with we should ask: “Who am I?” That may not be a question we ask very often. It’s definitely not a question we pose to others. But maybe it’s not our name that we question. There is a whole lot more to our identity than just our name. The question of who we are goes a lot deeper than that. The question: “Who am I?” includes such things as “What do I stand for?”, “How am I to live?’ “What am I to do with my life?’ and “What is my special identity in the world to be?” Things that the fact of our name just doesn’t cover.
“Who am I?”
We all remember our names, but sometimes it’s hard to remember the deeper aspects of who we are. Particularly as Christians, it is hard for us to remember that we are a part of God’s good creation, redeemed by God’s great love, and called to share God’s great love with the world in specific words and actions. That’s who we are as God’s people. We are a part of God’s good creation, redeemed by God’s great love, and called to share God’s great love with the world in specific words and actions. It may be hard to remember all this at times, but it is necessary for us to remember who we are as God’s people, because if we should forget who we are as God’s people we cannot truly live as Christians, sure of God’s great love for us, and sure of God’s great love for others.
So how do we remember who we are as God’s people?
The ancient Israelites remembered who they were by remembering what God had done for them. God’s actions of salvation, particularly in the great exodus from Egypt, are what gave the Israelites their special identity and place in the world. These actions by God made them who they were. They made them understand that they were the people of God and they were to act as God’s people. The Israelites developed creeds, or statements of what God had done in their lives and in the history of their people, to remind them of who they were and how they were to act because of who they were. Our Old Testament passage from Deuteronomy 26 is one example of the creeds the Israelites used to remind them of who they were as God’s people.
In our Gospel reading for this First Sunday In Lent Jesus fasts for 40 days in the wilderness before He begins His ministry, and after fasting He is tempted by the devil. The devil is tempting Jesus about His identity. He is tempting Jesus about who He is as God’s Son and how He will carry out His ministry in the world as God’s Son. The fact that Jesus was God’s Son should make a difference in who Jesus was and what Jesus was to do in the world, but what difference would it make?
Jesus had not preached a sermon. He had not performed a miracle. He was alone and He was hungry in the desert. He was ready to begin His ministry, but what shape was His ministry to take? What was He going to do, say, and even think as He went about His ministry? By the strength of the Spirit, Jesus remembered who He was. He remembered, and chose God’s ways for His life and His ministry, even though it meant death on the cross
As Christians, it is vital for us to remember who we are as God’s people in a world that may not encourage us to live as the people of God. We need to remember God’s saving grace, God’s love, and God’s mercy. We need to remember God’s acts of salvation for us and God’s call to us to live in His ways. We need to remember the Old Testament acts of salvation and Jesus on the cross. God’s saving acts are what makes us God’s people and gives us our special identity in the world. They give us a special way to act! They give us special things to do! They help us remember who we are.
Lent is the time in the Christian year when we remember God’s acts of salvation that give us our special identity as God’s people, make us who we are as God’s people, and call on us to live our lives in different ways because we are God’s people. Christ’s death on the cross gives us salvation and a special identity as God’s people. It gives us special ways to act. It gives us special things to do.
Friends, Christ’s death for us on the cross should change who we are. It should change how we think. It should change how we act. It should change what we say. It should change what we do. Yea, it should change who we are.
So the question we must ask ourselves as we come around God’s Table and begin the Sundays In Lent is this: Has the death of Christ for us changed who we are? Have we let it change how we think? Have we let it change how we act? Have we let it change what we say? Have we let it change who we are? Have we let it change us?
Christ resisted temptation by remembering who He was as God’s Son and by acting in God’s ways. God can strengthen us to resist temptation and act in God’s ways. Do we let God strengthen us to resist sin and live in His ways?
Friends, to remember who we are we need to remember God’s love and let it shape who we are. We need to remember the redeemed, saved people that we are and live like we are redeemed and saved people!
Let us begin our Lenten journey, our reflection on who we are as God’s people and what that means for us and how we live, by coming to the Lord’s table and partaking of the bread and the cup. As we eat the bread and drink from the cup, let us remember. Remember the death of Christ on the cross. Remember what Christ has done for us. Remember what we can do for Christ. Remember who we are as the people of God, saved by God’s grace, and saved by God’s love, and may our memory of who we are help change what we think, how we act, what we say and what we do.
Come to the table and receive God’s strength for truly being who we we are. Come to the table and remember who we are. Amen.