Feb 18, 2018
Baptized and Named doesn’t mean the obstacles go away
The hardest part about being a Christian let alone a pastor, is explaining how I do not see myself as better, purer, more righteous, or less sinful then those who are not Christian or pastors themselves. Just because I am baptized and ordained as a pastor doesn’t give me an advantage over anyone else. In fact, I am just as likely to mess up in this world and the reality is that I am less likely to be forgiven for it by others. We seem to need to believe that once we are baptized or called to be leaders, somehow we are less likely to be fully human.
So in hearing about Jesus being baptized and claimed as God’s son it may be tempting for us to believe that he was less then fully human. That somehow he had a foot up when he was driven into the desert and tempted for 40 days. Some might even argue that because he had angels he had an advantage. But I don’t think so.
Driven into the Wilderness To find Ourselves.
Even Jesus needed to figure out who and whose he was. Because he was fully human he has some limitations just like the rest of us. I can’t explain how that worked but I can trust that he also faced all of the obstacles and temptations that we do. Because of this, Jesus needed to know himself, needed to know his strengths, and his weaknesses.
There are any uses of the word test. It can be used in a positive or a negative connotation. We test things to make sure they work we give the trial runs, we checked a rope or a knot to ensure that it holds. Testing can also be a malicious attempt to solicit evil and sin.
I like to think that when the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness, he faced both. Not only was he tested and tempted by evil and sin, but he also was able to assure himself of who and whose he was. He used the time for testing, resting, and praying. And when he came out of the wilderness he knew his purpose more surely. He was ready for the greater trials ahead. It was not a bad time rather, it was a productive time to ensure that he could handle what was to come.
Who and Whose we are
One of my favorite books has been made into a blockbuster movie. In March the young adult novel, “A Wrinkle in Time” by Christian author Madeline L’ Engle will be in theaters. The movie and book chronicle the story of Meg, a young woman who needs to learn who she is. She, her brother, and a friend travel through time and space guided by Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which to fight Evil from taking over. Like the Holy Spirit the Mrs. W’s guide, prod, chastise, encourage and comfort.
Each time making faces a problem she is further equipped for the next obstacle to come. When she is tempted and often feels alone however, the Mrs. W’s are never far away
In fact, they are often only a shout away. Much like our Holy Spirit.
We are in lent now. Our sanctuary reflects the wilderness in which Jesus may have found himself. Your wilderness may not be in nature but I am sure that you can relate to the sparsity and the struggle of your own internal wilderness and how it maybe reflected in the struggle to see the candles and their light through darkened glass. I am sure you see the reflection of feeling like dry bones parched and thirsting for living water in the dry branches and herbs on the wall. I am sure you feel the struggle to grasp the promise of baptism as you dip your fingers into the font and must touch sand and rock in order to reach the water that reminds you of your baptismal promise and God’s provision. And I am sure that as you chew a heartier bread you will taste the hard work of receiving that which is given freely to us, but that we often have a hard time taking in. The promises of life and water in the desert are sparse, but they are there nonetheless. They are rugged and hardy.
When we are in the wilderness, the promises of God may seem few and far between, hard to reach, hard to see even. But they are there, rugged and hardy, too. This is what we recall during our Lenten reflection of Testing, resting, and prayer.
Our Welcome Statement
Each week of Lent we will work through who and whose we are as a congregation and as individuals. Sundays we will work on our congregational identity, Wednesday evenings, we will look closer at our own identity in Christ.
This week we begin with our welcome and desire to walk with others.
First we must know who and whose we are so that we do not lead others astray. We must welcome them as equals, as fellow journeyman along the way. So this week I invite you to ponder what it is to walk with. What it is to be with someone without judgment, without leading, without following, but simply coming alongside. What is it to walk with those we worship beside, expecting nothing but presence and accompaniment, and providing nothing but the same in return. What is it for us to allow Christ to lead? It may be a lot like the journey of Meg, who must trust in something far bigger than she is. It may look like being angels or just witnessing them. It may look like being alone. What it is will be up to you. This week, surrender to the wilderness and let yourself be in an uncomfortable place. Rest there. Ask questions and wonder. Just be who and whose you are and let Christ lead.