Friday, March 8, 2019

Lent I

I haven't written my sermon for Sunday yet--but here is an old Lent I sermon.

LENT I 2/14/16

          I walked for many days,
          Past witches that eat grandmothers knitting booties
          As if they were collecting a debt.
          Then, in the middle of the desert, I found the well….

          In the first Century, the Judean Wilderness was called Je-SHIM-mon, which means, literally, ‘The Devastation.’  The wilderness of Judea is an area 35 miles by  25 miles—almost 1000 square miles of devastation. From Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, the desert drops down 1200 feet to the lowest point on the face of the earth.
          The Judean desert is one of the most rocky, empty, inhospitable places you could imagine. It looks more like the Moon than it looks like Connecticut. There is an otherworldliness to that place. The heat of the arid afternoon is brutal, but not surprising—what is surprising is how cold it gets when the sun falls out of the sky like a ball rolling off a table.
          And though rain seldom falls in that place, when rain comes it comes in cloudbursts that flood the wadii’s with such force that human beings can be knocked to the ground and drowned in the desert.

          According to Matthew’s gospel, after Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit led him into the 
Devastation—into the Judean wilderness—to be tempted by the devil.
          Matthew does not refer to Satan as “the Evil One” or “the Enemy”: instead, he calls him ‘o di-ab-oy-os, which means the slanderer…the one who tells lies.  Jesus’ “temptation” is the challenge of slander, of lies, of the “un-true.”
          In English, we tend to think of temptation as something “drawing us into sin or evil.”  But the Greek word is peir-a-zein, which is more akin to “testing” or “trying.”  Peir-a-zein does not refer to a purely negative action. “To be tested” contains the possibility of learning and growing…the chance of finding unknown strength.

          Then, in the middle of the desert, I found the well.
          It bubbled up and down like a litter of cats
          And there was water, and I drank,
          And there was water, and I drank.

          In the midst of the devastation of the desert, The Slanderer tempted Jesus with three lies.
          The first lie was this: personal longings and needs are more important than patience and endurance.
          Jesus was hungry and the devil dared him to turn stones into bread. But Jesus knew it was a lie and grew stronger.
          The second lie was this: quick results and instant success are better than wrestling with reality.
          To leap from the Temple and be unharmed would cause the Jews to acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah. Jesus knew it was a lie and learned wisdom.
          The third lie was the most seductive of all: Power and Control will win hearts.
          To worship Satan and rule the world would have let Jesus “control” the people of the world. Jesus knew it was a lie and learned faithfulness and powerlessness.

          Then, in the middle of the desert, I found the well.
          It bubbled up and down like a litter of cats
          And there was water, and I drank.
          And there was water, and I drank.
          Then the well spoke to me…..

          Jesus’ time in the Wilderness is a metaphor for our own journey, our own “testing” and trial and temptation.
          The desert, the Wilderness, the Devastation—it is not ‘OUT THERE” anywhere.  We are not called by Lent into a place “out there….”
          The desert of Lent is a metaphor for the inner journey we are called to make—the wilderness places of our soul we are called to visit and be tested by and drink from.  And the Wilderness is where the Well of God can be found.
          The Light dwells beyond our inner darkness. Life and Hope can only be discovered if we will walk in the Shadow of Death and Hopelessness. There are no short-cuts, no easy ways, no simple answers.
          The Slanderer within us whispers lies. And the way to Truth is through un-Truth.  The Well of God, the Water of Life is in the desert places of our hearts.
          Lent calls us—as individuals and as a community—to self-reflection and prayer. That way is the Wilderness Way. And it is the only Way to Freedom and Life.
          There is no Holy Week without Lent. There is not Easter without Good Friday.
          We live too much on the surface of things. Lent calls us down deep—down into the unconscious life, into the bone and the marrow of life, into the deepest Darkness where the light will truly Shine, into the driest desert where the Well of God bubbles “up and down like a litter of cats….” Where there is water and where the Well speaks to us.
          Then the well spoke to me.
          It said: Abundance is scooped from abundance,
          Yet abundance remains.
          Then I knew.

          Abundance is scooped from abundance, yet abundance remains.
          In the desert of Lent, we will know….we will know…..

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive

About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.