Weekly e-Devotion: February 16 Edition

Mark 1:9-15
Gospel Lesson for 
Sunday February 18 2018

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And 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.11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” 12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” 

    Ah, Lent!  That great “Forty Days.” Days often used to re-set our derailed New Year’s resolutions and re-brand them as our Lenten discipline.  It is said to take about forty days to imprint a new habit into our brains and make it something we do as part of our routine every day.
    Mark, in this passage, doesn’t let us catch our breath as we read in a few short verses God’s ringing endorsement of Jesus upon his baptism, then ‘immediately’ (as Mark loves to say), God’s catapulting Jesus into the wilderness where we see him fighting the wild beasts (of evil) while being attended to by the angels (of God).  Finally, with startling suddenness, John is arrested and Jesus is preaching his first sermon in Galilee.  Eugene Peterson’s contemporary voice of scripture called The Message renders Mark’s urgent telling this way: “Time’s up! God’s Kingdom is here.  Change your life and believe the Message.”  It doesn’t get any clearer than that.
    And so we each begin our Lenten journey through our divinely-appointed, individually-crafted wilderness.  It’s not as obvious as giving up chocolate for forty days or committing to reading the Bible every day (although both are commendable!).  This is about repeating in our lives and in the corporate lives of our Christian communities the pattern of death and resurrection pre-figured in the Old Testament with the Israelites’ forty-year sojourn in their wilderness and, then again, with Jesus’ temptations in his ordained wilderness.  These wild, barren, parched times do not come to any of us by accident.  They come to us from the hand of a loving God who will use whatever means are at hand to coax us back to himself.
    When I first moved to Arizona 27 years ago, I saw the desert as exactly what that word conjures… a barren, hotter than you-know-where place with scrubby little hills the locals referred to as mountains (of all things!), and dangerous critters (of both the animal and vegetable varieties) that made walking barefoot in your own yard a hazard. I suddenly identified with every desert reference in scripture in a very personal way.  Having now clocked some years and miles on my “wilderness experience,” I can gaze at a sweeping desert landscape and see profound beauty; I can bend down to investigate a flowering cactus and see glory looking back at me.  What changed?  I did.  I began to learn about all the diverse life in the desert that my Midwestern eyes were not trained to see.  This desert wilderness has been a learning experience on any number of levels.
    And I think that’s what is going on when God brings us down from the Mount of Transfiguration into the wilderness of our challenges, temptations, sorrows, addictions, diseases, enemies, and failures.  We are there to learn; we’re there to grow closer to God. Israel needed forty years’ worth of teaching and learning before God ushered them into their promised land. How long will we wander?
    Join with the Psalmist as he prayed in Psalm 25:4-5: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.”  All Lent long. All my life long. May this season of reflection produce at its end a great and glorious Hallelujah!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at cbecker@allsaintsphoenix.org or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.


Thank you Heavenly father, for the promise of grace that is new every day. May we live in it, through Christ. Amen

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Bible Readings

Feb 18
First Sunday in Lent
Click HERE to read
Genesis 9:8-17
Psalm 25:1-10
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:9-15 *

Feb 25
2nd Sunday in Lent
Click HERE to read
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

Psalm 22:23-31
Romans 4:13-25
Mark 8:31-38

* eDevotion Bible text(s)

Click HERE to read
Genesis 21:8-21 and Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17
Jeremiah 20:7-13 and Psalm 69:7-10, (11-15), 16-18
Romans 6:1b-11
Matthew 10:24-39

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