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Lent as a Journey

by Elliott Wright

Mount of Olives, with Garden of Gethsemane at its foot.
Mount of Olives, with Garden of Gethsemane at its foot.
Image by: Sushil Bhujbal
Source: GBGM Mission News
The wilderness of Judea.
The wilderness of Judea (Luke 4:1-2)
Image by: Sushil Bhujbal
Source: GBGM Mission News

Jesus is almost always on the road in the New Testament Gospels, first traveling around Galilee, preaching, healing, and teaching his disciples the lessons of faith; then in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, he makes a prolonged journey to Jerusalem.

In Luke, Jesus moves from Galilee south to Samaria, where in chapter 9:51 he "set his face to go to Jerusalem" and he knew it would be no picnic there. In the continuing trip, he encounters friends and opponents, interacts with followers, and tells many of the parables that hold truths about God. In chapter 19, Jesus and his band entered into Jerusalem, and the rest of Luke is about the trials, tribulations, and final victories in the city for whose peace he prayed.

On the road, Jesus prepares himself for the humiliation of execution, and attempts to prepare his disciples for both his death and life beyond death.

Each year in Lent we set our face to go to Jerusalem with Jesus. There are stops and starts along the way, detours and pitfalls. The congregation I often attend is marking Lent 2011 as a time of "wilderness wanderings"-- going into the deep places of life where we may need to make changes, or at least check our priorities, to gain strength to continue by God's grace our journeys with Jesus.

Lent is a constant, relentless journey.

I am strongly reminded of the relentless nature of that journey in the awarding-winning 2010 French film "Of Gods and Men." It tells the story of seven Christian monks who served the physical and medical needs of an extremely poor Muslim population in a wilderness area of Algeria in the 1990s--a true story. But civil war is coming their way. Will the monks flee to safety or continue in their commitment? They stay. And they will lose their lives-- their faces firmly set toward Jerusalem.

The journey of Lent always leads up a hill to a cross. There is no other route. Lent is a time to test our willingness to walk boldly with Jesus; to give up distorted goals; to "die" to old ways and reject new temptations; to steadfastly look beyond the cross, confident that God's love in Jesus Christ "lives" in us, and through us, and takes hope into the future.

(Homepage image: Sushil Bhujbal)


Date posted: Mar 09, 2011