Worship Helps for Lent 1

Epiphany’s Lenten paintings
On Ash Wednesday, you will notice that the Epiphany paintings of the Wise Men and Jesus’ Baptism have been replaced. The Lenten paintings we received last year will be up for the next seven weeks. While the Epiphany paintings attempt to portray realism, the Lenten paintings are filled with symbolism.
Adam in the Garden
The color of the sky is reminiscent of the sky color around the Good Shepherd stained glass window. 
The serpent is lively and colorful. But God has pronounced a curse upon him — “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel” (Gen 3:15).
Adam is clothed with the skin of an animal. With his sin, Adam has brought death into the world. The first to experience death is the animal God killed to cover Adam’s nakedness and replace the fig leaves Adam had previously used.
Adam has returned to the scene of the crime. He is repentant, looking at the bitten fruit.
Only Adam is portrayed in this scene from Eden, so that there is a contrast between Adam and Jesus, who is called the second Adam (1 Cor 15:45).
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is purposefully shaped like a cross.
The peacock is the bird of paradise in ancient art. He is also called the bird of pride. Pride was the sin of both Satan and Adam, thinking they knew better than God.
The proper preface for communion for the season of Lent upon which these paintings were created: “… who brought the gift of salvation to all people by his death on the tree of the cross, so that the devil, who overcame us by a tree would in turn by a tree be overcome.”
Jesus on the Cross
The sky turned dark while Jesus hung on the cross. Now that He has died, the sky is returning to its afternoon yellow.
INRI — Latin letters for the sign that hung over Jesus’ head in Greek, Aramaic and Latin: “Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ [the second Adam] all will be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). Jesus is the second Adam. Adam is portrayed in the Eden painting as having already fallen into sin. Jesus is portrayed in the Calvary painting as already died. His eyes are closed and the spear has pierced His side.
The serpent is pale and colorless. He has been crushed under the heel of the woman’s offspring—Jesus Christ. But the serpent has struck Christ’s heel. If you look closely, there are two fang marks on His heel.
The raven is a bird of death. The peacock is in a place of beauty that brought death to all people The raven is in a place of death that brought life to all people
The cross is cut from a tree. Jesus fulfills the prophecy: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree” (Gal 3:13). The cross is purposefully set at the opposite angle of the Tree in Eden. The devil beat humanity on a tree, but Jesus defeated the devil on the tree of the cross.
The borrowed tomb where Jesus will be placed is in the background. In the Easter painting, the scene will be reversed with the open tomb in the foreground and the empty cross on Golgotha’s hill in the background.

Worship Theme: The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday.  Historically, Lent was a period of time during which the Christian would deny himself certain luxuries or behaviors in order to focus more clearly on the tremendous sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross.  Technically, the Sundays during Lent are not considered part of the forty-day season, and, therefore, the passion history itself is not generally part of the Scripture lessons appointed for these days.  Today’s lessons remind us of the stark contrast between God’s perfection and our sin-stained imperfection, but also of the victory Christ has won on our behalf and has credited to us.

Old Testament: Genesis 3:1-15 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" 2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'" 4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" 10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." 11 And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" 12 The man said, "The woman you put here with me-- she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." 14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

1. What was Satan’s goal in each step of his temptation? (verse 1, 4, 5)

2. Perfection was gone. It was replaced by shame and the desire to cover up and hide. How did Adam and Eve show that sin dominated their lives? (verses 7, 8, 10, 12, 13)

3. God did not leave Adam and Eve in their guilt. Verse 15 is the first gospel promise. In this one short verse is found a wealth of good news. Find the good news in the following phrases: “Cursed are you”; “you will eat dust”; “I will put enmity between you and the woman . . . between your offspring and hers”; “He will crush your head . . . you will strike his heel.”

Epistle: Romans 5:12-19 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-- 13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. 15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

4. How was Adam a “pattern of the one to come” (Christ)?

5. How does the grace of God in Christ compare to the evil brought on by the sin of Adam?

Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." 4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" 7 Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." 10 Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'" 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

6. What did Jesus use to defeat the temptations of Satan?

7. What parallels can be seen to God’s people as Jesus is tempted?  (compare Deuteronomy 8:1-5)

1. • Verse 1 - Satan challenged God in a rather mild way. First, he made God out to be harsh: “Did God really say?” Then he exaggerated God’s command: “any tree”? Doubt about God’s love had been planted in Eve’s heart. Sin was already there. She responded correctly about God’s command, but she added to it and made it harsher than it was: “You must not touch it.”
• Verse 4 - Satan made a direct attack on God: “You will not surely die.” In a sense, he was right. Adam and Eve would not drop dead on the spot—not physically, at least.
• Verse 5 - Satan then tempted Eve with a true, but terribly twisted, statement. If they ate, he claimed, their eyes would be open and they would understand good and evil. Eve was enticed. She fell.

2. • Verse 7 - Adam and Eve saw their unclothed bodies in a new way, and because lust had entered their hearts, they hid their nakedness.
• Verse 8 - Adam and Eve had now become afraid of God. They hid when they heard him coming.
• Verse 10 - Adam foolishly said that he hid from God because he was naked. (God had created him that way!)
• Verse 12 - Adam passed the blame onto his wife (and to God, “the woman you put here”).
• Verse 13 - Eve also passed the blame.

3. • “Cursed are you”; “you will eat dust” (verse 14).
Satan, not Adam and Eve, would from this time on be cursed. Satan and all who do evil, not believers like Adam and Eve, will suffer for their sins.
• “I will put enmity between you and the woman . . . between your offspring and hers.”
After Adam and Eve sinned, there was peace between them and Satan, and there was enmity (hostility) between them and God. God would turn the tables. Peace between him and Adam and Eve would be restored. But Adam and Eve and their offspring would have to suffer at Satan’s hand and at the hand of his followers as these forces of evil sought to undermine and destroy God’s plan of salvation in Christ.
• “He will crush your head . . . you will strike his heel.”
The Savior would kill Satan and undo his work. This points ahead to the great battle the Savior would wage against Satan.

4. As by Adam’s sin, death entered the world and affected all people, so by the sacrifice of the one God-man Christ, all people have been redeemed.

5. Several times Paul uses the phrase “how much more.”  God’s grace is infinitely more effective for good than is Adam’s sin for evil.

6. Always the Word of God, a tool God graciously places also at our disposal!

7. As the Israelites were led into the desert to be tested, so Jesus was tested.  But our Savior passed each test perfectly, depending on the power of God found in the Word.

Putting your faith into action
When atomic bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945 to end World War II in the Pacific, the world changed. Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki, with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day. On Christmas of 2004 an earthquake rocked the world off the coast of Indonesia that set off a tsunami that killed over 160,000 people and displaced another 500,000 people in Southeast Asia. Yet no disaster was as great as what took place in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve rebelled against God. Death came to all men. The nature of man was no longer in God’s image but in the sinful image of Adam. In stark contrast to all that tragedy stands the gift we are given in Christ. He changed the world even more. He forgave the world. He justifies, that is, declares humankind forgiven and righteous, which the formerly condemned receive through faith. He changed us to live as changed people.  He changed us to live for him.

A reading from the Book of Concord for the First Sunday in Lent
This doctrine of the Law is needed by believers in order that they may not make up a holiness and devotion of their own. Using God’s Spirit as an excuse, they must not set up a self-chosen worship, without God’s Word and command. For it is written: “You shall not do according to … whatever is right in [your] own eyes,” but “be careful to obey all these words that I command you,” “you shall not add to it or take from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:8, 28, 32)

The doctrine of the Law is also necessary in and with believers’ good works.  Otherwise, a person can easily imagine that his work and life are entirely pure and perfect.  But God’s Law prescribes good works to believers in this way: it shows and indicates at the same time, as in a mirror, that in this life works are still imperfect and impure in us.  So we must say with Paul, “I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted” [1 Cor. 4:4]. So Paul, when encouraging the regenerate to do good works, clearly presents to them the Ten Commandments (Rom. 13:9). He recognizes from the Law that his good works are imperfect and impure (Romans 7:7–13).  And David declares: I will run in the way of Your commandments. (Ps.119:32)

Enter not into judgment with Your servant, for no one living is righteous before You. (Ps.143:2) – Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration Article VI: The Third Use of God’s Law (paragraphs 20-21)

Hymns: 371; 200; 378; 396; 754

1  The tree of life with ev’ry good In Eden’s holy orchard stood,
And of its fruit so pure and sweet God let the man and woman eat.
Yet in this garden also grew Another tree, of which they knew;
Its lovely limbs with fruit adorned Against whose eating God had warned.

2  The stillness of that sacred grove Was broken as the serpent strove
With tempting voice Eve to beguile And Adam to by sin defile.
Oh, day of sadness when the breath Of fear and darkness, doubt and death,
Its awful poison first displayed Within the world so newly made.

3  What mercy God showed to our race, A plan of rescue by his grace:
In sending One from woman’s seed, The One to fill our greatest need—
For on a tree uplifted high His only Son for sin would die,
Would drink the cup of scorn and dread To crush the ancient serpent’s head!

4  Now from that tree of Jesus’ shame Flows life eternal in his name;
For all who trust and will believe, Salvation’s living fruit receive.
And of this fruit so pure and sweet The Lord invites the world to eat,
To find within this cross of wood The tree of life with ev’ry good.

God’s first promise to send a Savior, offered in the shadow of Eden, finds its fulfillment on the tree of Calvary, Jesus’ cross.

Text: Stephen P. Starke, b. 1955 © 1993 Stephen P. Starke; admin. Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


Popular posts from this blog

The hand of the Triune God’s blessing

Be still – A funeral sermon for Jason Lopez, Jr.

Funeral sermon for Susan P. Tangerstrom