Calgary First Mennonite Church Calgary

Restore Us, O God! We Hunger

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Written by Pastor Ed

March 5 Message.mp3

Restore us, O God! We hunger.

March 5, 2017 – Lent 1


Genesis 2: 15-17; 3: 1-7

Matthew 4: 1-11


Probably the most famous line from the movie, “Oliver” is that plaintive request, “Please, Sir, I want some more.”  Of course, this was spoken by a waif who was on a strict ration of gruel and had a legitimate desire for something more to eat, but his request is one that resonates with all of us.  As I noted, last week, we all think that with just a little bit more, we would be satisfied.


Whether it be more money, more recognition, or more power, we all hunger for just a little more.  Or perhaps it’s for a lot more.  Super heroes are big right now and have been for some time.  The movies portray these super heroes with at least one power that allows them to overcome whatever obstacles lie in their way.  And wouldn’t all of us like to have that one superpower that makes us invulnerable to the forces around us?


Our scriptures for this first Sunday in Advent are full of temptations, the desire for something more.  Adam and Eve are placed in an ideal garden, with all the animals and plants surrounding them.  You would think that they would have had no needs or desires beyond what had already been given to them.  And yet, when they are presented with an opportunity to want something more – to become like God – they were quick to succumb to the temptation.  If they could be like God, then they would be complete, self-sufficient and able to decide for themselves what was right or wrong.  Who wouldn’t want that?


Of all the Gospel writers, Matthew gives us the fullest account of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness.  Following his baptism, we are told, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted.  Matthew clearly wants us to recall the wilderness wanderings of the children of Israel as the wilderness and 40 are prominent in both accounts, as are the temptations.


Jesus, at his baptism, has just been declared God’s beloved son.  Wouldn’t that be enough?  But yet the temptations are there.  Maybe I could just become self-sufficient and make my own bread.  Wouldn’t a display of prowess, some spectacular feat like jumping off the top of the temple, show people what I can really do?  And in many ways the last temptation is much like that of Adam and Eve; seize power and become like God just be succumbing to temptation.


Whether we see these temptations as being about how Jesus was to carry out his mission, or in some other way, each of them invites Jesus to be self-sufficient and not rely on God.  If you can be a super-hero without God, why should you be dependent on God?


And maybe that’s what’s behind all of our temptations.  Part of being human is being aware that we are not sufficient, not complete in and of ourselves.  In my studies and work with the issue of sexual abuse I have come to understand the close connection between sexuality and spirituality and how those can sometimes get mixed up.  Both our sexuality and our spirituality include a desire for a connection with someone outside of our selves.  It is a hunger for connection and intimacy.


Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher, spoke of this longing as a “God-shaped hole” in our lives.  And we look for all kinds of ways to fill that hole.  For Adam and Eve, the fruit seemed to be the right shape to fill that hole.  Today we might think a new car or a new house, or even a new spouse might fill that hole.  For some, unfortunately, sex becomes the desire that is used to try and feed that hunger and fill the emptiness that they feel.  Unfortunately, that has even been true for some pastors and other leaders which has led them to an abuse of their position, succumbing to temptation.  But no matter what it is that we try to appease that hunger with, no matter what we think will fill that God-shaped hole, there is really only one thing that truly satisfies.


As the theologian Augustine said “as humans we are restless until we find our rest in God.”  In my workshops with pastors on prevention of abuse, I talk about the need to nurture ones spirituality as one of the preventive measures.  The same is true for all of us as we seek to fill that hunger that comes from our own deficiencies.


First of all, we need to acknowledge that as humans we are not complete in and of ourselves.  It is part of our human condition.  We do hunger for something more, something beyond ourselves.  And then we need to acknowledge that, as Jesus said, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4: 4)


We can never fill that hunger completely until we turn and put our trust in God.  The temptations we face are very often those which come from a lack of trust.  We think we can do it better or that by doing something we can make everything right.  But we are not super-heroes. Super-heroes only exist in the comic books or the movies.  We are, in fact, still human and will always need someone beyond ourselves to fill that God-shaped hole.


In sharing communion today, we come confessing our insufficiency and acknowledging that it is only as we feed on the living bread of Christ that we can find rest for that hunger which permeates all of us.  As we sang last Sunday,” In Christ alone” will we find true fulfillment and completeness.  Just as the Psalmist in Psalm 32 recognizes that it is only when we confess our sins and put our trust in God’s grace that we can find healing and rest, so we are called in this season of Lent to examine ourselves, confess our insufficiency and place our hope and trust in Christ’s obedience by giving himself for us through his death and resurrection.


So let us join together as we remember and feed on him in our hearts, with thanksgiving.




Let us join together in a prayer of confession.  We will follow this prayer of confession by singing #29 in Sing the Journey, “You are all we have” and then continue with prayer, during which we will repeat the refrain.  Let us pray:

Leader:            God of abundance, you give us all we need. We confess that, too often, we focus on what we don’t have. We forget that it is you who truly sustains us. Forgive us. Satisfy us with your steadfast love, and help us to take refuge in remembering that what you provide is good. It is enough.

(Pause for silent confession)

Leader:            God of abundant grace,

All:                  restore us.

Leader:            Rejoice in the Lord and be glad. Sing praises to the Lord! Taste and see that the Lord is good.

“You are all we have”


Thank you that you are God, and that is enough.  You are indeed what we need to fill our hunger. Help us in those times of despair and loneliness to seek you, to cry to you, even as the psalmists cried.


“You are all we have”


Help us in those times of uncertainty and doubt, when we are tempted to seek other ways to fill our desires, to turn to you for comfort and relief.


“You are all we have”


When we become self-sufficient and self-righteous, thinking that we do not need you or anyone else, may your Spirit remind us of our insufficiency and our need for you.


“You are all we have”


In the silence, we pray for those specific needs that we are aware of among our families and friends, for the needs of the world around us, and especially today for the gatherings of our brothers and sisters across Mennonite Church Canada as we seek your guidance.




May we always be reminded that it is you that we find our fulfillment and hope.  Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


“You are all we have”





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