When the first storm of the 2006 hurricane season posed a threat to Florida last week, many media stories echoed an underlying sense of dread about some of the possible consequences should the storm hit with full force. It turned out that the effects of Alberto were not as severe as initially anticipated; nevertheless, lingering memories of hurricanes Katrina and Rita led many to fear the worst. The lectionary's assigned gospel text for June 25 -- Mark 4:35-41, the story of Jesus calming the great storm -- certainly speaks to the fear we have of our great storms.
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The scriptures for today bind together the beginning of sin in the world, our salvation from sin, and Jesus’ own vulnerability to the temptation of the devil. We see that the devil is very clever (or that we can be very clever in fooling ourselves about our motives and the possible ramifications of our attitudes and actions).
Jesus sets the bar high by resisting temptation even from the imagination of the devil. To show just how amazing that accomplishment is this lesson will put temptation in each kids’ hands. You may have seen the videos of kids in a room alone with a marshmallow. They are challenged to not eat the marshmallow then left alone in the room. The kids obviously struggle with the temptation to eat the marshmallow. For this lesson you can use marshmallows or Oreos, both are relatively allergen free.
We in the West have an interesting culture in which we quite like to be shocked. Many of us enjoy films which are shocking to a greater or lesser degree, and it sometimes seems to be that the higher the rating, the more popular the film. Even huge natural or man-made disasters have a worrying degree of entertainment value in the way they are presented to us over and over again on our television screens. We meanwhile sit in our armchairs munching our chocolates feeling scandalised or shocked or disturbed, but seldom switching off the set.