March 1, 2020, What Are You Hungry For? by Pastor David Tatgenhorst
Matthew 4: 1-11 Then Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit, to be tempted by the Devil. After fasting for forty days & forty nights, Jesus was hungry. Then the tempter approached and said, “If you are the Only Begotten, command these stones to turn into bread.” Jesus replied, “Scripture has it, “We live not on bread alone but on every utterance that comes from the mouth of God.” Next the Devil took Jesus to the Holy City, set him on the parapet of the Temple and said, “If you are the Only Begotten, throw yourself down. scripture has it, God will tell the angels to take care of you; with their hands they will support you that you may never stumble on a stone.’” Jesus answered, “scripture also says, Do not put God to the test.’” The Devil then took Jesus up a very high mountain and displayed all the dominions of the world in their magnificence, promising, “All these I will give you if you fall down and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to the Devil, “Away with you, satan! scripture says, You will worship the Most High God; God alone will you adore.’” At that the Devil left, & angels came and attended Jesus.
Take a moment to notice your body. Breathe love into any discomfort. Breathe out any worries. Take in God’s presence this day.
March 1, 2020 What Are You Hungry For?
Anybody hungry? Ready to eat? I’m famished. I could eat a horse! What’s for lunch? How bout a little snack? What are you hungry for? Chinese takeout? pizza? salad? We have so many ways to recognize our hunger, and we pay so much attention to it. Hospitality requires paying attention to people’s stomachs almost before anything else. When we go on retreat or to camp and often in the rest of our lives, meals are the measure of the day, a consistent focus.
Food is a base level need in the Maslow hierarchy of needs. If we don’t pay attention to that hunger, we have trouble paying attention to anything else. So we pay a lot of attention to it, don’t we? We also use it as a metaphor for our other needs on the hierarchy. Including that top level of self-fulfillment and self-actualization, our spiritual needs.
On the retreat this year, we painted stones to add to our Ebenezers on the window sills, our pathfinders. We painted stones with words to carry with us and remind us of our aim for the year. I was surprised when the word that came to me was ‘hungry.’ But the word has continued to deepen for me, as I went on another retreat and as I’ve reflected on it. When it came to thinking about the Lenten sermon series, it seemed to fit to bring this reflection to this month of sermons.
Hungry, I come to you. Hungry, I wait for you. We all know what it’s like to be hungry. We may not experience it much. Probably none of us has ever experienced forty days and forty nights of fasting like Jesus in the wilderness, but we know what it’s like to get hungry.
Today, we begin by noticing how Jesus dealt with temptation in the wilderness. First of all, I want us to notice the set up. The story is that Jesus went into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights of fasting and prayer. That’s like if we fasted from now until Easter, April 12th! We have trouble imagining going without television or our smart phone or fast food for a few days, let alone going without them for 40 days, let alone going without food for 40 days, let alone changing our lives to allow for a deep prayer commitment for 40 days!
When Jesus comes out of the wilderness, the reading says that, no surprise, he was hungry. He was hungry and the tempter comes and suggests that he turn a stone into bread, so that he could have something to eat. Well, this was right in line with his mission, to feed the hungry, to show that God has compassion for people who need something to eat. This is what the Messiah is supposed to be about, feeding the hungry.
The tempter is tricky, tempting Jesus to satisfy his own immediate need rather than stick to his bigger purpose. But Jesus rebuffs the tempter with each temptation, refusing to follow yesterday’s Word of God rather than looking to the bigger picture. Jesus refuses to just do good when he knows how to live into what is best. His hunger is deeper than the growling in his stomach. He hungers for a world where all people are fed, and where all people can build strong community and real connections with the divine.
Today we just introduce the idea of using hunger as a metaphor for our spiritual journey. There’s a way in which hunger sharpens our senses and makes us pay attention. I find this when I fast. It’s the reason a conductor uses a baton. You know why? Conducting for the best conductors and choirs is very exact, and they want the players to focus on just the tip of baton, not on the whole hand. Hunger focuses the mind like that, on the tip of the baton.
We have different kinds of intelligence - intellectual, emotional and bodily intelligence at the least, and all of them have a spiritual dimension. We tend to live in our heads, and by using the metaphor of hunger we are trying to move ourselves more into our emotions and into our gut. Fasting and contemplative prayer are ways that we can move ourselves along on this spiritual journey.
So this is where we are going this season. Everything we do this Lenten season aims to encourage us on a journey of hungering for deeper connection with the Spirit. Each year we encourage each other to slow down a bit, to let go of our busy-ness, so that we can pay attention to our deeper hungers. Tomorrow is National Day of Unplugging, one day to put down our phones, turn off the TV, take a break from work and distractions, to make room for prayer and meditation. We quiet our minds and look for the hunger we have for God’s presence. We quiet our cell phones so we can notice the hunger for loving, growing relationships, for being fully alive, for being able to see.
I hunger for a different way of seeing the world - for breaking out of the dualistic way of seeing everything as us against them, Dems vs. Republicans, Christians vs everybody else. In this season our contemplative prayer allows us to see through a more complicated sense than our usual way of dividing our worlds in two.
I hunger for peace and a deeper fairness for all God’s people, where public defenders don’t get fired for defending people on a bigger level than in a stacked system. I hunger for this meal this morning, this communion feast of a touch of the finest Welch’s grape juice and a smidge of gluten free bread. It represents for us the very presence, the tangible physical presence of the Living God in Christ.
What are you Hungry For? Hungry, I come to you. Hungry I wait for you. we will sing at the end of this sermon in a contemporary hymn. What if we allowed ourselves to be hungry, to have hopes, to not have every thing we want and be satisfied? What if we notice what we need, what is wrong? We will use Lent to think about these questions. As we come to the communion table, we ask this question as we partake of the bread and the cup. What is the hunger that we aim to satisfy with this meal? I would welcome your contributions and thoughts, as we come together this season.
As we come to the table this morning, I invite us to dedicate ourselves to a deeper level of prayer, of community, and of study to a deeper hunger for God’s presence and God’s guidance on this journey. God will be present with us in ways that we had not anticipated, in a deeper joy and satisfaction, stronger health, and more supportive community.
Worship Through Giving
(The Communion Offering will go to the Sjogren’s Foundation)
*Communion Hymn 3099 Hungry, I Wait For You