The Rev. Shannan Hudgins delights in a good poem, pre-dawn walks, and serves as a Chaplain at Baystate Hospice, West Springfield, Massachusetts.

Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11 (NRSV)

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written,
“One does not live by bread alone,
   but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” ’

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you”,
   and “On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’
Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
“Worship the Lord your God,
   and serve only him.” ’
Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Reflection: Temptation


The problem with temptation is that it’s usually fun. Or at least it can start out fun, there in the beginning of our contemplation of a wicked deed. The temptations vary by our proclivities: a single glass of wine following a week of hard-won sobriety. Or three cookies, not the one encouraged by the diabetes nutritionist. Or speeding through a yellow caution light too far from the intersection to clear it before it flips to red. Maybe that dinner meeting with a colleague when a 20-minute conference call would have sufficed and meant supper at home with the family. Temptation can be our downfall, but I wonder if too often we’re looking in the wrong direction for our salvation from the devil’s handiwork.

In late winter of my 8th grade year, I decided to give up man-made sweets for Lent. It was quite the challenge for a young teen with a keen regard for candy and cake – my sweet tooth hasn’t abated much in the decades since. I set my Lenten challenge to skip desserts and any sweet snacks throughout each day for the 40 days of Lent, and Holy Week, too. My family was supportive. My friends were surprised: we weren’t Catholic and the practice of giving up something for Lent was not a familiar one to them. I remember praying about the challenge and what it might mean for me if I failed. Ash Wednesday arrived and my journey of sugar deprivation began.

The weeks unfolded and I kept my promise, odd as it was. I was tempted to grab a Mounds bar from the community candy bowl in drama class, or to pop the top off a Coca-Cola before starting my afternoon homework. Somehow, I held onto my commitment to avoid eating sweets.

Looking back with an aged and experience-informed perspective, my heart aches for the young girl trying to wrestle some control in her life. I was trying to stay afloat in the wake of my family’s upheaval and disintegration. My parents had divorced the summer before. A few months later, my dad lost his job and moved 325 miles away to find work in his field. I surely could not negotiate a settlement or any semblance of our former life from the adults in charge, so I set my sights on a task that was completely within my purview. Easter Sunday arrived and I hadn’t tasted chocolate for more than 40 days. The overwhelming taste sensation the Russell Stover chocolate egg offered up shocked me.

The lessons from that sugar holiday continue to unfold for me in teasing out the meanings of Matthew’s story about Jesus and the tempter. Saying ‘No!’ to whatever temptation leaves us empty of hope is surely challenging. Saying ‘Yes!’ to the Savior who promises to walk with us as we face our temptations is the deeper challenge revealed in today’s passage. Jesus shows us the way. He quotes sacred text to the devil’s taunting, and so might we. “Every word that comes from the mouth of God” is ballast for our staying afloat in whatever wake we’re in, for God indeed commands angels for our protection. Jesus says so. With temptation at hand, up close and deeply personal, God’s Son is there, too. May we walk with Jesus and one another this Lenten season.


God, you know our temptations and you know our hearts. Lead us in our Lenten journey to bring our temptations to the very heart of our beings, where you reside with eternal protection. Amen.

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at cochranem@sneucc.org.

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war.
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the ~5,500 gun violence deaths that happened in the US since the start of the new year, including the mass shooting at Michigan State University.
  • For those suffering due to the Turkey–Syria earthquake, where ~42,000 people are known to have lost their lives, with thousands more injured, and for those affected by the storms in the southern US.

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For the impact made because of contributions to Proportional Giving to Our Church’s Wider Mission.
  • For the partnership of Incredible Days with the Conference's Edwards House Meeting and Retreat Center that will focus on addressing urban poverty in Greater Boston.
  • For Chapel of the Heart virtual devotional time with sessions of prayer, reflection and music.

This Week in History:

February 26, 2012 (11 years ago): Florida teen Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, and the subsequent court case sparked protests and ignited national debates about racial profiling and self-defense laws. [History

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

Shannan Hudgins

The Rev. Shannan Hudgins serves as a Chaplain at Baystate Hospice, West Springfield, Massachusetts.

February 20, 2023
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