In the Wilderness

Good morning all!

Today’s scripture:

Good morning all!

Today’s 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 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 splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God,
    and serve only him.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

camels

The picture above is from when I went to Israel. I went in my first year of appointed ministry. I was 24 and just commissioned. The senior pastor that I was working with (hey Jim!) got us into this clergy trip for super cheap with a few other folks from Oregon-Idaho and a bunch of other folks from all over the United States…most very very conservative. We loaded into a great big touristy bus with our hats and our matching bags and off we went for 10 days. I would LOVE to go back but not on the bus. I was the only clergy woman (there were a couple of wives on the trip) and the only one under the age of 50ish.

There were some downsides in my opinion from this trip…..I was told I was going to go to hell multiple times by other people on the trip because I am a woman in ministry (I replied with a lot of feisty and not much calm….young clergy). The Israeli touring company really took us nowhere near Palestinian territory (which I wailed and cried about…again, would love to go back). And the trip was far too short and I thought it would be too touristy.

BUT there were some amazing points to this trip…the food was fantastic, the touristy sites still brought something strong to my heart and connected with me on a level that I would have never imagined, AND I got to ride a CAMEL and drink coffee with Bedouins right after they roasted it in their village….WHAT? The Bedouin community is changing rapidly in this part of the world but dwell in the wilderness areas of Israel. I truly fell in love with this area of the landscape.

One day when we were walking to our next location, out in the desert, I just stopped and took it all in. For some reason, I could listen better in this space. It wasn’t selling holy water like at the river Jordan. There wasn’t the same calm as there was at the kibbutz by the Sea of Galilee but it was tugging at my soul. There is something mystical and at the same time desperate in the middle of the wilderness.

At the beginning of the Lenten journey, we recognize that Jesus is sent out there to do soul work before coming in to do God’s work. He is driven by the Spirit. That line always intrigues me. It is as much of a drive by the Spirit as baptism is. Jesus must get all of his stuff right in himself before he comes back to do public ministry. We talk very clearly that Lent is that time in the wilderness. It is a reflective space, a difficult space, and one that is working within our own self. It is lining all things up in right location so that we might be able to do the work of God better. After being in that wilderness, I get that. This work is dangerous and yet it tugs differently at our souls.

Now, we don’t have the same set up here, do we? We don’t have the desert to wander through but we do have our own stuff to line up right with God. We do have our own reflection to do. We have our own work during this journey. I hold a weekly small group called, “Theological Coffee.” For the past six weeks, about 9 of us on a regular basis meet at Community Plate and just talk about big theological issues. This week we met to see if we want to continue to meet, open up the group and touch base about Lent. (BTW…we will be meeting more because we had so much fun…on March 12 we will resume our group at 930am at Community Plate if you want to join). All of the folks around the table yesterday were talking about working on transitions. From working to retired. From couplehood to widowhood. From winter to spring. From active to just being. Etc.

This is a lonely place to be…in transition. We all have been through it and yet our experience is unique to us. We are the only ones who can really go through it. That is definitely wilderness. But what an exciting place to be! The possibility! The awareness of God because we are more fine tuned to listen! The opportunity to shift our purpose…..and how dangerous. And yet, we can’t help but be there. Perhaps we have been driven to that space. The wilderness. Lent.

Where is your wilderness this season? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Are you driven there by the Spirit?

‘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 splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God,
    and serve only him.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

The picture above is from when I went to Israel. I went in my first year of appointed ministry. I was 24 and just commissioned.  The senior pastor that I was working with (hey Jim!) got us into this clergy trip for super cheap with a few other folks from Oregon-Idaho and a bunch of other folks from all over the United States…most very very conservative.  We loaded into a great big touristy bus with our hats and our matching bags and off we went for 10 days. I would LOVE to go back but not on the bus. I was the only clergy woman (there were a couple of wives on the trip) and the only one under the age of 50ish.

There were some downsides in my opinion from this trip…..I was told I was going to go to hell multiple times by other people on the trip because I am a woman in ministry (I replied with a lot of feisty and not much calm….young clergy).  The Israeli touring company really took us nowhere near Palestinian territory (which I wailed and cried about…again, would love to go back). And the trip was far too short and I thought it would be too touristy.

BUT there were some amazing points to this trip…the food was fantastic, the touristy sites still brought something strong to my heart and connected with me on a level that I would have never imagined, AND I got to ride a CAMEL and drink coffee with Bedouins right after they roasted it in their village….WHAT? The Bedouin community is changing rapidly in this part of the world but dwell in the wilderness areas of Israel. I truly fell in love with this area of the landscape.

One day when we were walking to our next location, out in the desert, I just stopped and took it all in. For some reason, I could listen better in this space.  It wasn’t selling holy water like at the river Jordan. There wasn’t the same calm as there was at the kibbutz by the Sea of Galilee but it was tugging at my soul.  There is something mystical and at the same time desperate in the middle of the wilderness.

At the beginning of the Lenten journey, we recognize that Jesus is sent out there to do soul work before coming in to do God’s work.  He is driven by the Spirit.  That line always intrigues me. It is as much of a drive by the Spirit as baptism is.  Jesus must get all of his stuff right in himself before he comes back to do public ministry.  We talk very clearly that Lent is that time in the wilderness. It is a reflective space, a difficult space, and one that is working within our own self.  It is lining all things up in right location so that we might be able to do the work of God better. After being in that wilderness, I get that.  This work is dangerous and yet it tugs differently at our souls.

Now, we don’t have the same set up here, do we?  We don’t have the desert to wander through but we do have our own stuff to line up right with God.  We do have our own reflection to do.  We have our own work during this journey.  I hold a weekly small group called, “Theological Coffee.”  For the past six weeks, about 9 of us on a regular basis meet at Community Plate and just talk about big theological issues. This week we met to see if we want to continue to meet, open up the group and touch base about Lent. (BTW…we will be meeting more because we had so much fun…on March 12 we will resume our group at 930am at Community Plate if you want to join). All of the folks around the table yesterday were talking about working on transitions. From working to retired.  From couplehood to widowhood.  From winter to spring.  From active to just being.  Etc.

This is a lonely place to be…in transition. We all have been through it and yet our experience is unique to us.  We are the only ones who can really go through it.  That is definitely wilderness. But what an exciting place to be!  The possibility! The awareness of God because we are more fine tuned to listen! The opportunity to shift our purpose…..and how dangerous. And yet, we can’t help but be there. Perhaps we have been driven to that space. The wilderness. Lent.

Where is your wilderness this season? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Are you driven there by the Spirit?

camel 2

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