First Sunday in Lent, 5 March 2017 Year A
What desert are you in? We have begun our downward valley walk to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter where a three day celebration will lead us through our deepest fears and deepest joys. In these early days into Lent, what desert temptations are you dealing with? What wild beasts circle you? What hunger is making you painfully hollow, turning your stomach and making it hard to sleep? What are you parched for? What issue are you tempted to fix by taking matters into your own hands? Or what do you desperately with that you could fix, if you could?
We begin by acknowledging that we have been on this journey from the beginning. Our pain and struggle to live with all joy are part of a long pattern of disobedience since the time of the garden. The beginning story of Adam and Eve might seem primitive from a mythological origins point of view, casting the Creator as clay shaper and rib taker, but the theological and psychological insights are quite advanced. We are responsible for our lives. Paul, taking our origin story and using at Adam as the archetypal first human for us, the everyman or everywoman, calls our fall transgression, disobedience and sin. The advanced insight that both Genesis and the letter to the Romans emphasizes that we begin to grow into God’s plan for us, begin the royal road to salvation and health when we take responsibility for our actions and choices. This is called owning or naming our sin or owning and naming the sins around us. I’m not sure which is harder, though, taking responsibility for my own sins or for the sins of others that have hurt me or caused grief in my life. Jesus says these are connected, though, and that our forgiveness is intimately tied with forgiving of others.
The Good News today, for our Lenten journey and for the rest of our lives is that we are not called to do it alone or by our own hand. That was exactly what got us in trouble in the Garden. Most of us try to satisfy our hungers and solve our problems on our own terms and with our own hands, or by manipulating others to use their hands for us. Once we acknowledge that we were put in the garden in pairs, or planted together as a people 2 or 3 gathered together and responsible to and for one another as God’s beloved children then we are prepared for the one who meets us, the new Adam, the new Human. But he comes to find us not in a garden but it’s opposite, the desert of our own making, where hope is hard to find.
What desert are you in? What mirage has disappointed you and left you tempted to the point of desperation? You are not here alone.
One of my 17th century heroes is the founder of Quakerism, George Fox.
Fox said he struggled to find answers to his questions and could not find anyone who could understand him or his condition until the voice came to his ears, “There is one Jesus Christ who can speak to thy condition.”
Even in hearing it almost 300 years later, reading it in his journal, this voice rings true. He was tempted to sin and despair as we all are and did not choose it, his humanity knows mine. More so, his coming to be the second Adam, the new Human, the Son of God can help bring my
Son of Man, Sum of Man, Full Human, Fullness of Humanity, what God meant when we were first created and planted in the garden. Our humanity looks like Jesus.
He was the one who came for you, sent by the creator to sit in the desert with you. You are not abandoned by God in your temptations, depressions, angers and griefs.
Our desert springs garden as we are attached to this new human.
At the end of the testing, attached to JC, angels ministered to him as they will for us, not alone, resisting through his might and power, not our own, .beasts gone, angels present.
Your desert shall bloom.