"Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."Come quickly!
The gospel (Matthew 4:1-11) appointed for the day is the reason for this prayerful plea. Jesus is being "assaulted by many temptations". Very serious temptations to sell his soul for a crust of bread, the promise of immortality and dominion over the earth.
My first temptation on this first Sunday in the Season of Lent is to be assaulted by the uncontainable hope contained in the deep green buds of tulips and crocus which are pushing their heads through the hard ground.
I can't wait for Spring. It's coming, of course, in just a few more weeks - on 21 March. And yes, the date on the calendar does not mean that we still might not get at least one more "good snow" (as they say in New England) or that the temperatures will automatically rise to more moderate levels.
It's been a particularly difficult Winter. I am waiting for the promise - the hint - the smell of Spring as a woman awaiting her lover. My pulse quickens when I smell Spring in the air and feel the promise of its warmth embrace by body. Its gentle rain seductively fingers my face and hair as in foreplay.
Spring is the time when the Earth awakens to become our Cosmic Lover - seducing us with brilliant color, new sounds, new stirrings. The temptation is to fall to its power too soon, knowing that the ultimate, eventual seduction is inevitable, anyway.
I am preparing my heart the way people are now preparing their garden beds - pulling out the old, dead brown leaves and twigs, raking over the cold, hard dirt to awaken it to receptivity.
I rejoice to hear the birds singing to the Earth in the morning, raising songs of Hosanna's to the Lord who is the Giver of All Life, and inspiring the whole round Earth to open herself to new life which will become their banquet and their feast.
More than a crust of bread, with the promise of immortality that is more powerful than the seduction of the idea of world dominion.
Come quickly, Lord, as soon as these flowers open. Before they open. So we may be reassured that you do not leave us forever but return again and again to awaken in us a love for all of God's creation and creatures.
Including you - our Love, our Beloved, our Lover.