Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Finding our deepest identity

[During Lent we will be following a local series of lections.If you are looking for the Common Lectionary References try here Revised Common Lectionary]

This Sunday 1st March 2009 the focus reading is Mark 1:9-15. Mark's account of the baptism of Jesus

A lot happens in the first chapter of Mark. In the space of these few (only 7) verses...Jesus is baptised, he hears the voice of God, he goes into the wilderness and is tempted by Satan. John is arrested, Jesus goes back to Galilee and he makes a public declaration of what his ministry is about.

"The time is fulfilled 

and the kingdom of God has come near

therefore I call you to repent and believe in the good news"

It's a lot!
The Spirit affirms Jesus in the profoundest way possible
What ever it means, Jesus hears the voice of God saying
"You are my Son, and I love you, and I am well-pleased with you"
What does God say to you? What is God saying to me?
At our deepest level?
In Lent we are being invited to pay attention to God.
The idea of God speaking to us
is not without problem.
What do we mean by it?
It is not clear, for example, in this passage
whether Mark wants us to understand this as an external, audible voice.
Whether others might have heard it,
or whether this is just fanciful stuff.
I suspect if we allow ourselves to accept this passage,
not worrying too much about the mechanics of what is being addressed
that many of us would allow that God might be speaking to us
(heart-to- heart someone suggested to me during the week).

The wilderness
What unlocks some of this for us is that the same Spirit
who speaks this deep affirmation of Jesus's personhood
drives (a very strong word) Jesus into the wilderness.
This wilderness as we know, is an ambivalent place,
at once threatening (beasts)
but also where we are thrown back on total reliance on God.
It is as though Jesus not only has to hear the affirmation
but also then to go and appropriate it.
This needs the confrontation and threat of the wilderness.
It is not just nice words.

What might God be saying to you at this time of your life?
Can you take time this week to struggle with that a bit?
What don't I like about what God is saying to me?
Where do I resist? Where am I vulnerable?
Where do I deceive myself...about myself/about God?

It is out of this struggle
that Jesus comes to some realization
of what is happening!
The time is now, God is close
Things must change...I need to repent, to behave differently
(what will this mean for me today)
The time is NOW!
This Good News, if we are to believe it,
is for now
and will affirm us at our deeepest  level.
It will require some change,
and that we trust God for all that is necessary to effect it.
It is not without beasts,
but also with angels!
Do we trust God enough to enter into this?

  • What is God saying to me at my deepest level (heart to heart)?
  • Can I strip back everything and allow the wilderness to speak this to me?
  • Will I decide to embrace the freedom that is being offered? To be free of sin? To live as one who tries to accept others? To embrace the possibility of failure? To trust only God?
  • What is to stop me doing this now?

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