Sermon for March 6, 2022 Lent One “If you are…”
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness” This teaching from Luke happens immediately after the baptism of Jesus and at the beginning of his ministry. And we may wonder why this reading finds its way into our Lenten readings that lead us in the ending days and weeks of Jesus ministry.
Biblical scholar Sharon Ringe reminds us that the love of God for Jesus is as powerful at the beginning of his ministry as it is at the end. It is also the very same temptations that the followers of Jesus will face in the first century and the twenty-first century and beyond. Since there are no witnesses to this event we are given a peek into the theological mindset of Luke which is the constant interplay of love and possibility between God, Spirit, Jesus and the community.
It is also a reminder that Lent is an intentional time of preparation and a time of spiritual deepening in our practices related to our faith and the decisions we make every day of life. Our human default position is to take the path of least resistance, we, for the most part just can’t help it. But once on the path what looked like a leisurely walk became increasingly difficult.
There is a wonderful collection of guide books in NB on hiking trails, biking routes and waterfalls. They each give a degree of difficulty. How often do we look at these guides and ponder ‘it really can’t be that difficult’ and we start off to find out that we, go figure, were wrong? It is wise to note that these books were written by seasoned hikers and heeding the information is a good idea. When we drive there are signs to help us all be safe, at school, at the pool, at the gym, at the stores there are signs that aid us along the way.
Jesus was led into the wilderness, there was no guide, no map of where the hazards are and no one who had been there before. Just be in the desert as preparation time. The volumes written on this text are numerous and varied and would take speed reader years to get through them. And I’m so sure we would be any smarted at the end of it all.
This is our Lenten journey, it is not the same as Jesus 40 days in the wilderness, and my journey well look different than yours. What we are call to…is to start the journey and stick with it for 40 days. A practice that clears the collectables of our lives and leaves room for God and Jesus to speak and to lead.
For me one of my questions is; if I am Christian my response to what is happening will look and sound like…
I can assure you it is not always easy. How do I live in community that has been challenged by COVID in a way that is safe for me and others after March 14? I light of our beautiful and challenged past as settlers in Canada how do I live with those who were here? Can I pray for the people of the Ukraine and the people of Russia? Wilderness time, intentional wilderness time is to confront these questions, big and small, be tested and emerge with some degree of perspective on the inner truths that ground my responses.
The challenge is that coming face to face with these challenges come when we are least prepared. After 40 days Jesus must have been hungry so the temptation of food would be…well…tempting. And that leads to a post Easter peek. The practices of Lent are intended to be practices for life and for life. But more on that later.
Right now this day and for the duration of Lent what foundational pieces are you putting in place that will sustain you, this community of faith, the community of faith for the mission of Jesus in our world? Then we can live into the sneaky questions that begin with ‘so…you are a Christian, what about…’ and we can with assurance respond with a resounding yes to Jesus and a faithful yes to the truth that I am a follower and believer of Jesus. The path will be time of green pastures and still waters…and…times when fear grips our lives and intentions, and everything in-between.
The Jesus movement has thrived over these past 2000 years, changed, adapted, grown, changed some more and will continue to do so. That is, I believe because the answers of Jesus in the desert are modeled by all who follow…God’s will is being done, anew each day. No one generation can see the end, we are called to faithfully build and rebuild. As Christians, followers of Jesus the is the most and least we can do and be.