, 30 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Here we go, friends. It is almost Sunday. Putting up tonight because I'm still writing for tomorrow morning.

A tweet sermon for Lent 1: "Possession: Intention and Temptation"

Texts Luke 4:1-13 and Deuteronomy 26:1-11.
Lent begins with the traditional text of Jesus going out into the wilderness for a 40 day fast. There, at the end of the fast, the Devil appears to him and tempts him.

Makes a lot of sense as a story to begin Lent, the season of repentance and examination.
What is interesting to me is that the lectionary (the readings shared by RC and mainline Protestant churches) twins this story with Deut 26:1-11, the account of how at the end of 40 years wandering in the wilderness Israel finally enters the promised land.
So, we have 2 stories of leaving the wilderness.

One of temptation, the other of God's intention.

Xians: Remember: Jesus is a Jew. He knows the Deuteronomy story. The early Xians were mostly Jews. They knew this story. 40 days in the wilderness; 40 years in the wilderness.
In the Jesus story, right before leaving the wilderness, the Devil wants to give Jesus three things: food, land, and eternal life.
Food is depicted as a miracle -- "turn this stone into a loaf of bread"
Land is depicted as power over others -- "the glory & authority" of all the world's kingdoms
Eternal life is depicted as protection from bodily harm -- you alone will be saved by the angels
Food, land, life.
Wait a minute. That doesn't sound terribly tempting! Isn't that what all human beings want and need?
What's the problem? What's wrong with food, land, and life?
Absolutely nothing.

Indeed, the Deuteronomy passage is also about food, land, and life.
In this story (one probably less known to Christians), the people are about to enter the land that God is giving them.

Land is a gift.

There are no strings attached, no quid pro quo. This is a gift.
The land is not separate from food. The land itself, the gift, gives a second gift: milk & honey. Food.

The 1st thing God desires for them is when they enter the land, the people will harvest the "first fruits," and take the produce to the priests as a offering of gratitude.
And then they share the food -- with the tribe of Levi (the priests of Israel who hold no property or land); and "aliens," strangers, immigrants, and foreigners who dwell with them.

This is life in the story -- abundance, making sure all are welcomed and fed.
When placed side-by-side, the story is so beautiful.

God gives a gift to Israel -- "to possess" as the text says.

But God's idea of "possession" is subversive.
Land is not really "owned," it is a gift. You settle it, you steward it. Land isn't a matter of power or authority over others, or the glory of political control.

Land is sacred, a place where wandered find home. There's "power" in that, but it is the power of rest, wholeness.
Land becomes a temptation when we think of it as "ours" and our power. When we grip it, control it, and when Caesars turn it toward their own glory.
Food is wrapped up in land. In the Deuteronomy text, food is the natural gift of the land. The gift -- the land -- brings forth more gifts: food.

And there's enough for all. Even enough to bring thank offerings to God -- in gratitude and for sharing with the entire community.
The temptation of food is when it is turned into a mechanism of control and a commodity -- the Devil tells Jesus to "make" food as a "miracle." As if Jesus needs to do such! The earth itself brings forth bounty! There's no need for a miracle here.
The temptation is power over food.
And finally: life.

In the temptation, life is a story about Jesus saving his physical life -- or angels saving it. Again, by a miracle. Save yourself! You will live forever! You are the Son of God!
Deuteronomy is a different vision of life -- life abundant (remember when Jesus himself talked about this?).

What is life in gifted land, the bounteous land?

Sharing. Making sure that everyone is fed.
When you save your neighbor's life, you save your own.
The devil tempts Jesus to possess and control food, land, and life. Deuteronomy teaches that "possessing" a land isn't about control & power; rather, it is about gratitude & grace.

God's people "possess" as they receive gifts & give gifts away. That's the sacred economy.
God's intention.

What God asked of God's people as they left the wilderness. Live this way, God said, and you shall dwell in peace.
The devil takes God's intention and turns it into a temptation -- by reshaping it into a structure of power and control. And whose temptations, BTW, look remarkably like the structure of power and control exercised by the Roman Empire.
...where land was power, where food was a commodity controlled by the rich (and often seemed a miracle to the poor), and eternal life was getting one's face carved in stone and having a temple dedicated to you.
Thus we arrive at Lent.
At the edge of this wilderness, what do you seek?

Food, land, and life -- gift, bounty, and sharing
Food, land, and life -- power, control, and glory?
A life of gratitude or its opposite?

You choose.
Gift or control?

You choose.
God's intention or the other's temptation?

You choose.
We can live in gratitude and grace. We can live with our neighbors in justice and peace. This has always been God's desire for us -- to set a table in the wilderness. And Lent remind us that we can resist the temptation of building towers and temples in place of that table.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Diana Butler Bass
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!