Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. Luke 4:1-2
As Lent begins, we have repented, and have been marked as a sign of our desire to lead a new life. There has been a recognition of our mortality; life will not last forever, new life will. The mistakes of the past will not determine our future.
Hungry for God, we stand face to face with the extent of the brokenness in our lives. Our thirst for control, power, and to prove something is stronger than we thought. The mark on our foreheads has already worn out, no longer visible, yet still at work in us. The Spirit is leading us through this wilderness. We are not alone!
How do we resist these ingrained tendencies and voices?
Jesus knew the rhythms of his religious tradition. He knew the words, movements and actions that had been time tested for generations. The saints that had gone before had made their mark, even to the present day.
Liturgy is repetitive — it has to be! In that repetition the rhythms and movement of the Christian faith become a part of of who we are, become the instrument of healing the deep brokenness. Dan Benedict says it this way:
In the Liturgy we know God and experience God’s power to shape our lives and move us from the old selves to participation in the new creation. (Patterned by Grace, 24-25)
In some ways our participation in the patterns of the liturgical life mirrors Jesus’ wanderings in the desert where the pattern of his community’s worship life guided him in faithful response to the devil’s constant offers of synthetic life.
On Ash Wednesday we were invited to go on this journey. We carry with us the instruments that will guide our way: prayer, fasting, and giving to the poor. On this first Sunday of Lent we know that the liturgy provides us with the cadences needed for this transformative journey. Just as Jesus walked in the wilderness with the Spirit as guide, so do we. We are not alone, and I believe that in the end the pattern of our liturgical life paves the way for our continual encounter with the risen Christ.
As we begin this journey of Lent I invite you to hear carefully the rhythms of your community’s worship:
+ Where are the words that will help you fight off your deepest tendencies towards brokenness?
+ What are the songs, prayers , and movements that come to the forefront in the midst of our times of wilderness?
+ What patterns will pave the way to the risen Christ?