Every Lent begins with Jesus post-baptism experience of the Holy Spirit sending him or driving him into the desert.
Mark’s version of this time is so succinct. It’s done in two verses. “Immediately the Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness, and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.”
The Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness…
The Greek word ere¯mos translated “wilderness” in the NRSV is also the word for “desert” or “deserted place.” Wilderness in the Bible refers to uninhabited areas and is symbolically the opposite of civilization and is the place where animals reside that are dangerous to humans.
In Australia, the word wilderness becomes `the Outback.’ The Outback has been described as “where the soul of Earth is untamed by human boundaries. “ I think there is something profound in that description – “where the soul of Earth is untamed by human boundaries.” So we have Jesus being compelled to go where the soul of the Earth is untamed by human boundaries and we have him there with the wild animals.
The Seasons of the Spirit curriculum, on the other hand, suggests this reference to Jesus being with wild animals would have been understood by Jews and the early church as a reference to the end of violence, to heralding a time of peace between all creatures, as we read in Isaiah 11:6 “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” They believed that this peace symbolized in the animal world, and enacted in the human world, would accompany the coming of the Messiah.
I borrowed the title of this message “Where the Wild Things Are” from the wonderful children’s book by Maurice Sendak, who writes of a little boy named Max, who sails away on an adventure to go where the wild things, the monsters, live.
This morning I invite you to step outside the boundaries of a regular Sunday sermon, and go on a small adventure. I invite you, not into the wilderness, but to a walk-about around the sanctuary. Spend some time looking at the different pictures portraying the life of Jesus.
(At this point in the service, people did a `walk-about’. There were about 25 pictures/posters/bulletin cover from different international artists, portraying some aspect of Jesus life. If you are were not at Sicamous United this morning, you might want to find a book, or Google international images of Jesus, and see what you come up with.
You might want to make some notes to yourself as you reflect on these questions in the bulletin:
Which picture or two, catches your attention, calls you to a deeper look?
What attracts you to this picture?
How does this picture relate to your life?
I invited you to reflect in silence about this picture, perhaps make some notes.
Then after a time of silence – connect with another person and share what you discovered. (Some people found another person to talk to, others shared their images with the whole congregation.)
At the end of the service we had a potluck and pancake feast – perhaps not liturgically correct but that’s o.k. – it worked for us 🙂