First Sunday of Lent
I Peter 3:18-22
Do you remember leaving home for the first time? Maybe it was for school, job, marriage, or just to leave to begin a home of your own. In any case at some point, we all leave home. Leaving home can be difficult, frightening, and risky, but the whole process of leaving home begins a new life for us.
Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz said, “There is no place like home!” and she was right. The season of Lent by its very nature calls us to the wilderness. Some of us get into the wilderness by following evil and confusion in our lives. It does not matter how we get there, what matters is, are we willing to spend the time during Lent to allow God to lead us out?
In our Gospel, Jesus has left the comforts of his home and is at the Jordon River. He has just been baptized; he has heard the voice of heaven say, “You are my beloved son, and in you, I am well pleased.” There is no time to celebrate, as we are told in our story, “The Spirit drove him out into the wilderness.” It is not the place you want to be driven to, but Jesus is driven there and stays there for 40 days. Jesus needs to go because he needs to be put to the test of his understanding of what he has just been told. It is his understanding of being the beloved Son of God that will allow him to do what he will do in his ministry.
In our first reading, Noah left the dry land and his home to sail upon the flood into the wilderness. When the flood reseeds, God makes a covenant with Noah telling him he will never destroy his creation ever again. God tells Noah each time you see a rainbow in the sky it is my reminder to you of this covenant. I think most of us love seeing a rainbow and this is the reason why we do. We need to know this promise when we are in the wilderness of our lives.
We spend a lot of our time and energy doing what we think will make us happy or to feel better. It is ok to do this, but it is not the purpose of Lent. The purpose of Lent is to have an authentic relationship with God, and this is done by going into the wilderness of our lives and facing our demons and the wild beasts and finding our way home. It is knowing that God will never leave us because we are his beloved children. That is why the church in her great wisdom gives us our Lenten obligations of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, to help us and to not panic.
If we are struggling, can we stand in the wilderness and trust that we will lead us into his loving arms? It does not matter how we begin Lent it what really matters is how we end Lent.