In the wilderness moments of our lives, we wonder who we are.
In the midst of spring break a new season began. (No, not spring; that is actually today.) On March 6th the church began the season of Lent. It is a season where the church journeys towards the cross and eventually the resurrection of Jesus. The 40 days of Lent (not including Sundays) comes from the 40 days that Jesus was in the wilderness after his baptism.
During Jesus’ time in the wilderness he was challenged by Satan in ways that questioned his identity. I think this is the experience that many of us have in the wilderness moments of our lives. We wonder who we are. We are tempted to think that our identity/worth is tied up in our power, privilege, and wealth. Right before Jesus was sent into the wilderness he was baptized and God declared, “This is my son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased!” This is the identity that Jesus clung to in that wilderness place.
It can be easy to look for identity and worth through titles, bank accounts, brands of products we purchase … fill in the blank.
Lent invites us into a time of trying to re-center and remember that our identity is as a child of God.
Our identity and worth comes from being created by God and being a carrier of the image of God in this world. By doing this we will, hopefully, also be led to see the worth and dignity of others as children of God created in God’s image. When we feel insecure in the wilderness we can be tempted to try to find security in who we are through acts of power and control over others.
On Friday, I awoke like many others to hear of the hate crime in New Zealand fueled by xenophobia that led to the death of 50 Muslims who were in prayer. There are many reflecting on the rise of hate speech in our world. It isn’t hard to find places and people that spread messages of hate and fear. In our world we often try to find security in our life or in who we are by putting down or controlling “the other.” We may do this in subtle ways of putting others down. However sometimes it is done with hate speech, through systems of laws or regulations that take away the human dignity in others, or through acts of violence like we witnessed in New Zealand. During this wilderness moment in our world, I hope our Lenten journey might help us lean into our identity as a child of God and in turn to see our neighbors as fellow Image bearers.
The story of Jesus in the wilderness ends with angels waiting on him. I love this detail; even Jesus needed others in the wilderness! We are not meant to navigate these spaces alone, but with others in community.
How are we supposed to reach out and walk with our Muslim neighbors during this time of wilderness? How do we walk with each other during the finally weeks of the semester stress? How can we be open to those around us for support during our own wilderness? The Muslim Student Association has organized a chance for all of us to stand together and support one another during this time. On Thursday at 5 p.m. outside of the Chapel they are holding a Vigil for Muslim Communities. This is a chance to say that the path through the wilderness is not more hate and fear, the path forward is through seeing the humanity in one another.
During our wilderness journeys, during our journey of Lent, we are invited to lean into our identity as children of God. To realize that we are invited to not find our worth and way of being through a worldly standard that says it comes from power, control, position, and wealth. We are invited to a journey that reminds us who we are — and whose we are — as beloved children of God.
March 20, 2019
*Note: People of all races and religions are urged to join the Muslim Student Association at VU for 51 Seconds of Silence, a vigil for the Muslim communities of New Zealand. This vigil will be at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 21, 2019, outside the Chapel.
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A Point of Privilege
- A season of anticipation
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- Better Together
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Carrying the COVID Cross
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Don’t miss this moment
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting ahead with Jesus
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- I almost slipped
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In Praise of Skeptical Disciples
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Killing off our future selves
- Lessons in fire building
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Lilies and leaves and whatever else is beautiful
- Living in the Present
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Art of Holy Week
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- This can’t be done alone
- To be known
- You will be in our prayers this summer of 2020
- Ventures of which we cannot see the ending
- We had hoped
- What do you do with your anger?
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When joy and sadness live together
- When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
- When you offer up your broken cup
- Where God will be found
- Where is the good shepherd carrying you?
- Wilderness Journeys
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future