Friday, February 19, 2010

Lent 1C

Homily preached at the Lower School Faculty Eucharist this morning...

Luke 4:1-13

At the end of a busy week, with many long, busy hours still to go, being led by the Spirit into the wilderness doesn't sound half bad.  Well, provided there's a nice shelter in that wilderness, with electricity and running water, and all the ingredients for a thick, hearty soup, and a cozy, down comforter, and a kindle full-charged, and an indefinite supply of General Foods French Vanilla Coffee...

I have wondered whether Jesus knew what awaited him in the wilderness, whether he was expecting something rather more retreat-ish than forty days of too little to eat and too much to endure.  The Spirit had led him there, Luke says.  Mark, always more urgent, says that the Spirit drove him there, Jordan River water still dripping down his neck, heavenly words still hanging round his head.  You are my Son, the Beloved.  With you I am well pleased.

It would not be the first time, nor the last, that a human heart wrestled with God.  I know, the story tells us the devil was the one who whispered temptations in Jesus' ear...Just think how much good you could do if you turned these stones to bread.  Just think how many would listen if you had authority over all the kingdoms of the world.  Just think how impressed they would be if they saw you riding the backs of angels...Aren't you hungry, Jesus?  You can feed yourself...

So it was, so it always is, that temptation sets the human heart against the heart of God and then steps back to watch what happens.  You can feed yourself, the devil still whispers in our ears, and our hearts swell with self-satisfaction.

We, too, have entered our forty days, this wilderness we call Lent.  The temptations we face are not peculiar to this desert, though - they are present with us each and every day.  And so we come into this season, led by the Spirit, to search our swollen hearts for the only words that can ever truly satisfy us, comfort us, feed us...You are my child, my Beloved.  With you I am well pleased.

Perhaps we will have opportunities for retreat in this wilderness time; perhaps not.  Perhaps at the Easter-end, or rather the Easter-beginnning, of our journey we will find that the world still more nearly resembles a wilderness than a warm shelter.  It is not,  however, not ever a God-forsaken place, the desert - indeed, it is where God waits to satisfy our hunger.  It is where the Holy Spirit leads us.  It is where Jesus stands close by, whispering in our famished hearts, I will feed you with myself... Amen.

Artwork: "Baptism of Jesus," by He Qi; "Temptations," artist unknown.

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