Friday, February 16, 2007

Gifts in the Wilderness: A Lenten Journey

“I am about to do a new thing,” declares God. “Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” These beautiful words of promise are read on the last Sunday of Lent this year, but they will accompany us as we journey together throughout the season.

The season of Lent is a rich time of preparation of our hearts, minds, and bodies as we journey toward Jesus’ death and resurrection. Traditionally the emphasis in Lent has been one of penitence. However, in the early church, Lent was primarily about preparation for baptism which would occur on Easter Day. While penitence can certainly be a part of that experience, it is also a profoundly celebratory time in which we enter into and experience the joy of God’s abundant love.

Many of the lectionary texts this year, while they draw us into the wilderness experience, also invite us into some of the most beautiful, biblical imagery of God’s compassionate care for God’s people in the wilderness. God reminds God’s people that just as God “made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters,” so God will make a way through the wilderness. And so we remember God’s libratory act of freeing the slaves and destroying the perpetrators of oppression, the death dealers. When we remember that God made a way in the sea, surely we can trust that God will make a way through our times of wilderness.

Truth is, the time in the wilderness was a likely necessary part of the journey for the Israelites. If they had managed to get to the Promised Land in a week, perhaps they never would have formed into a cohesive nation at all. It was their time in the wilderness together that formed them into a People. It was wandering in the wilderness that helped them know, truly, who their God was. The wilderness is no detour; it is the path into the very heart of God.

The invitation of Lent is ultimately to fullness of life. But that fullness does not deny our wilderness experiences; rather, it is all the more full because of our wilderness times.

This season you’re invited to embrace the time of wilderness through the various offerings listed here in this blog—from discussing films, to exploring prayer, to grappling with ourselves as bodies, to weekly worship, and more. May you allow God to lead you to the rivers in your desert.
Jennifer Davidson
Worship & Spiritual Growth