Lenten Reflection for February 21

Photo of chair in a living room

Scripture: Mark 1:9-15

The story begins and ends in Galilee. Jesus travels from his home in Nazareth to the Jordan River where he is baptized by John. He goes into the wilderness for forty days. Then, he returns to Galilee and begins his ministry. The circle is complete.

But there is more in this realm of “miracle and wonder.”* What of the “heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove”? Jesus’ society was hierarchical and communal; ours is supposedly equal and individualistic. In our time and place, any child can receive this blessing: “You are my Son, the Beloved.” But it was shocking, even scandalous, in the time of Jesus.

In the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus while “the angels waited on him.” If the reader is acquainted with John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” one is aware (as Milton was) that Satan is a much more interesting and likeable character than is God. We should not be troubled by Satan’s appearance. Are we not intimately acquainted with temptation?

We all have one place we call “home.” For Jesus, it was Galilee. We all leave our home. We have all been baptized in the promise of our new, adult life— a life where all freedom and all responsibility belong to us. And we have all gone into wilderness, whether it be a desert, or a cold strange city. In that wild place, we are tested and torn, afraid we may not survive. At some point, we go back or go forward to our (new) home again, surer and saner in mind and spirit. The angels wait on us.

*Paul Simon, “The Boy in the Bubble”

By Susan Wood

Prayer

God of wilderness and wonder, God of beginnings and endings, God of the ages and of the immediate moment, thank you for the journey of Jesus that so much mirrors our own. Help us to know that each of us is your beloved child.   AMEN

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