Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ash Wednesday - Mark 1

Mark says the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begins in the wilderness.  That is appropriate, because that is where you and I are at.  You do not need me to tell you this is not Paradise.  You have known that since long before the first time you complained to your mommy that life was not fair.  The Bible lets us know that in fact there was a time when life was fair - and more than that, filled only with goodness.  But we lost that through no fault of God's.  And so now we wander around outside of Paradise through a spiritual wasteland, a wilderness filled with wild things and wild people.  And the evidence of where we are at being wrong piles up like dead bodies.
However, the Scriptures let us know that being in the wilderness is not as bad a place to be as it could be.  Because God is there.  He does some of His best work in the wilderness.  Jacob is turned by God into His Israel through the wrestlings in the wilderness.  From Egypt He took a bunch of slaves who had divided loyalties and in the wilderness God made them to be His faithful people.  In the wilderness He taught David and opened his mouth so that David could teach us that the Lord is our Shepherd.  In the wilderness God shook Elijah out of his pity-party that "celebrated" his utter "failure" as a prophet and let Elijah know that there were in fact 7000 preserved who had not bowed down to Baal.  
And then into that wilderness Jesus goes - to stand shoulder to shoulder with sinners at His baptism, and then to face His temptation.  Because that is where you are, and where I am, facing our temptations.  
As we enter the wilderness of Lent, we become a bit more aware in this penitential season of the beastliness of our sin.  We have grown too accustom to it, and even convinced ourselves that we have tamed our wickedness.  Your Lord knows, however, how dangerous your sin is, that it can never be domesticated.  Christ has released us from its jaws, yet He knows better than we do that it is ready to sink its lethal teeth into you again without any warning. 
Yea, though we walk through this shadow of Lent opening up our eyes to our deadly sin, we shall fear no evil.  For the Lord is with us.  And He does some of His best work in the wilderness.  The question for us this Lent is - are we interested in the Lord working on us?  Are we looking to improve ourselves in just minor ways?  Do we just want to limp along in survival mode day to day?

Or do we really desire the Lord to resurrect us?

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