Genesis 9:8-17
Psalm 25:1-9
1 Peter 3:18-22 
Mark 1:9-15
Colour: VIOLET
Lord be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning; our salvation in time of distress. Isaiah 33: 2
God of Heaven and Earth, descend on us, we pray, in this season of Lent; strengthen us in the face of temptation so we may proclaim the Good News and reveal your ways. Through Jesus Christ our Liberator, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Mark 1:9-15
The Baptism of Jesus
 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.11And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’
The Temptation of Jesus
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’ 
Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.
Today is the first Sunday in Lent. Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Easter. It started last week with Ash Wednesday. Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Lent is marked by fasting, both from food and festivities.
Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus after his death on the cross, Lent recalls the events leading up to and including Jesus’ crucifixion. So our journey towards Easter has begun. 
Our theme today is Temptation.
At some point in our lives, we all leave home. Well, most of us have all done it. When we do, we leave home physically, emotionally and spiritually. We leave those places that are familiar, comfortable and predictable. Sometimes we can’t wait to leave. Other times we would rather not leave. Sometimes we choose to leave. Other times the circumstances of life push us out the door. Regardless of how or why it happens, leaving home is a part of life. It happens in lots of different ways and times.
For children it might be the first day of school. Young adults move out of their parent’s home to start University or go to work. Significant changes of life are also forms of leaving home: getting married or a divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one. A new job or the loss of employment are about leaving home. Moving to a new city, retirement, the loss of health all involve leaving home. Major decisions that brings us to the crossroads of life are also about leaving home.
Leaving home can be hard, scary and risky because it invites us to change and it opens us to new discoveries about ourselves. It challenges our understandings of where we find significance, meaning and security. Ultimately, though, leaving home is really the beginning of our spiritual journey and growth. Why? Because we are more vulnerable to and in need of God when we leave home.
However, leaving home is not simply about the circumstances of life. It’s the way of God’s people. Adam and Eve left the garden. Noah left his home on dry land. God told Abraham, “Go from your country and your whanau and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Gn. 12:1). Jacob ran away from home fearing for his life. Moses and the Israelites left their homes in Egypt. And in today’s gospel Jesus is leaving home.
As Mark tells it, “Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee” to the Jordan River. He left his home and now stands with John in the Jordan, the border between home and the wilderness. There he is baptised. The heavens are torn apart, the Spirit like a dove descends, and a voice declares, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” From there “the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.” Baptism may happen in the river, but the baptism of life begins in the wilderness.
You see, this story from Mark is not just about Jesus. It’s our story too. God’s words refer to Jesus in a uniquely literal way but they also apply to each one of us. By grace, gift, and the choice of God, we are his beloved daughters and sons. If leaving home, getting baptised, and going to the wilderness is Jesus’s way then it’s our way too. We leave behind our old identity, we are identified and claimed by God as his children, and we go to the wilderness.
Today is the first Sunday in LENT. And that’s what the season of Lent is about. It’s about leaving home and leaving home, in Lent and in life, it always takes us to the wilderness.
The wilderness is an in-between place. We are Neither here nor there. We have left behind what was and what will be is not yet clear. In the wilderness we come face to face with the reality of our lives; things done and left undone, our fears, our hopes and dreams, our sorrows and losses, as well as the unknown. These facts of our life are the source of our temptations. They feed our temptations.
With temptations, we tend to externalise them and make them about our behaviour. Behaviour is important but the real temptations are from within us, not around us. We are either tempted to believe that we are more than or less than the dust of God’s creation or we are tempted to not trust God’s willingness to get his hands dirty in the dust of which we have been created from. 
Temptations are not about our behaviour, breaking rules, or being bad. God doesn’t tempt us to see if we will pass or fail. Temptations are for our benefit, not God’s. They are a part of our salvation. We leave home and experience wilderness temptations to discover that our most authentic identity is being a child of God and our only real home is with God.
For many, the wilderness is new territory for us. In the wilderness the old structures, the ones we left behind, no longer contain, support, or define our life. It’s not, however, uncharted territory. The way has already been cleared by Jesus. It’s the way home, the way to God. We go to the wilderness with the knowledge and confidence that Christ has gone before us. Leaving home isn’t so much a loss for us but an opportunity for God. In the wilderness our illusions of self-sufficiency become surrendering to God, our helplessness opens us to God’s grace, and our guilt is overcome by God’s compassion. That’s what happens when you leave home.
We can never escape or avoid the wilderness. Like Jesus, we must go through it. We must face the temptations of Satan and be with the wild beasts. Yet we never go alone. The angels that ministered to Jesus will be there for us. “Remember who you are,” is their message. “You are a beloved son of God. You are a beloved daughter of God. You are one with whom he is well pleased.” Over and over they tell us. They remind, encourage and reassure us.
With each remembrance of who we are the demons are banished. With each remembrance of who we are we overcome Satan’s temptations. With each remembrance of who we are we take another step toward God. That’s the way through the wildernesses of life. Step after step. “I am a beloved child of God. With me he is well pleased.” Amen
Archdeacon Kaio Karipa