Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, kicks off the season of Lent for the western Church. At St Thomas we work to intentionally engage with the church calendar which is designed to invite Christians all over the world to participate in the holy rhythms of the life and ministry of Jesus. Each season of the calendar invites us into a different part of Jesus’ life and a different rhythm to incorporate into our own. Lent marks Jesus’ journey into the wilderness for forty days and invites us into the wilderness to come face to face with all the lies society likes to throw at us.
Beyond Jesus’ journey into the wilderness, there are other biblical parallels to lent. The story of the Exodus is, to me, the most impactful. I remember early in seminary listening to a professor discuss Exodus 14:11-12,
“They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
As the professor finished reading the passage, he looked up and said, “it is only in the desert that slavery looks more appealing than freedom, and yet the only way out of slavery and into freedom is through the desert.”
Lent is an opportunity for the Church, and all those who are a part of her, to walk into freedom by first walking into the desert. And while this may feel exhausting and hopeless to some of us, I want to point out one more thing in this story. Moses was not led into the desert alone. The people of Israel went together into that desert and came out together as free people. I want to encourage each of us to do some hard work over these next forty days. But I want to scream from the top of my lungs for all of us who are worn out readings these words, “You don’t have to do it alone!” We will go with you, Jesus has gone before you, and the cloud of witnesses surrounds you. You aren’t alone on this journey, and even though it can be so, so difficult it is a journey worth taking.