“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:9 – 11)
Have you ever stopped to consider, beloved reader, that Jesus went through his 40 days of trial and testing only once, while many for the Christian and spiritual discipline, have gone through the journey of Lent many times over? I was just sitting here thinking of the “here we go again” motif when I realized that for Jesus Lent was “one and done.”
“And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.” (Verses 11- -13)
But of course, his Lenten experience was far more severe than ours – so there is really no comparison. But still, our willingness to journey Lent over decades of time deserves some recognition and celebration.
My own faith tradition has not done as well in recognizing Lent and planning out spiritual disciplines. Anabaptists tend to down play rituals and high holy days; ti comes from separating ourselves, rather aggressively, from Catholic traditions, and Lutheran traditions as well. When I was in my early adulthood, many in the Anabaptist tradition began to realize we had missed out on a rich spiritual experience when we tossed out “the baby and the bath water.” (That is an inside joke that is better understood by Anabaptist than other faith traditions.)
So, we have tried to incorporate such rituals and practices in our faith year. It was in seminary that I was exposed to a much deeper and rich spiritual practice. And I have taken joy in observing the feasts, celebrations, and holy days. Following the Revised Common Lectionary has aided me also. That is part of the reason several years ago I started writing on that three year cycle.
“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (Verses 14 – 15)
I turned to look back on this scripture once again, and took note of the fact that Jesus was with both the wild beasts and the angels during those forty days. And Satan of course too. It seems to me that is a pretty apt description of many days in the lives of humanity. Trying to find our way among the wild beast, and looking for helps along the way. It would be easy – too easy I think – to say that is the journey of Lent, because it is not just during Lent that happens.
But, I digress. Jesus, starting the journey that would lead to Jerusalem. Along the way many things happened, many truths were taught and lessons learned. And if Jesus only journey once while on earth, the Divine has journeyed a million times or more with the faithful as they have journeyed in this life. Look, beloved reader, another soul has started the journey! Shalom & Selah!