First Sunday of Lent

We don’t have processional hymns during Lent, rather just a psalm. Lord, hear my voice, we sing. Lord, hear my voice. The choir sings verses and a few members ring bells.

And it’s always a shock to me during Lent when we skip the Gloria.

During the Preparation the choir sings the Palestrina Scapulis suis, and then during Communion they sing a version by Orlando di Lasso.

The first reading is from way early Genesis. The Fall. I notice how the serpent mixes both truth and lies to trick the woman. God knows well, he says, that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil. This is true, of course. But just before that he says, You certainly will not die! And that’s most certainly a lie.

Not that she dies right away. In the epistle reading, St. Paul tells the Romans and us:

Through one man sin entered the world,
and through sin, death,
and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned

But we know where this story is going:

For if, by the transgression of the one,
death came to reign through that one,
how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace
and of the gift of justification
come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.

And that’s what Lent is all about then, for us, really reflecting on our sins, making our way, preparing ourselves, looking toward Easter. The Gospel reading for the first week of Lent is always the same story, from the different Gospels, this year St. Matthew, of Christ tempted in the desert. Like Eve was. Like Adam was. Or even more so.

Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”

I wonder here, though, if the devil is again mixing truth with lies, or just flat out lying. Could he really have given Christ all the kingdoms of the world? Were they his to give, if Christ would have worshiped him?

I guess it’s temptation either way, whether the payoff is real or not. Maybe that’s a lesson in itself, somehow. Not so much what profiteth a man to gain the world. More like losing your soul for nothing. Nothing at all.

Scapulis suis comes from Psalm 91, line 4 and half of 5. Pinions are the outermost feathers on a bird’s wing.

He will shelter you with pinions, spread wings that you may take refuge; God’s faithfulness is a protecting shield.
You shall not fear the terror of the night