Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
-- BCP, page 219
Jeremiah 31:31-34, Psalm 51:1-13,
Hebrews 5:5-10, John 12:20-33
Hebrews 5:5-10, John 12:20-33
In our Lenten study group, "Luke for Lent," we have spent quite a bit of time reviewing a special section unique to St. Luke's gospel called the Travel Narrative.
All the gospels tell us that Jesus travelled south to Jerusalem from Galilee after announcing that we would die there. But only St. Luke takes almost ten chapters to tell us what happened along the way, providing us with the stories and events that we have come to love, like the so-called parables of the Prodigal son, Dives and Lazarus, and the story of Zacchaeus. You may follow the Travel Narrative in Luke 9:51-19:28.
Travel plays an important role in human formation and development. One thing we know from our evolutionary history is that from the start, homo sapiens has been on the move.
Biblical history, properly speaking, begins with God inviting Abraham and Sarah to travel "to the land that I will show you" (Genesis 12:1). For them, the journey was as much spiritual as it was a physical movement from today's northern Iraq to the Holy Land. The process of going from place to place parallels Abraham and Sarah's growing understanding. Who is this strange God who goes by the generic name of Elohim?
God is revealed in the experience of the liberated Hebrew slaves as God-on-the-move. God travels with the Israelites out of Egypt, going before and behind them as a Cloud and a Pillar of Fire. In the words of Walter Brueggemann, to experience the Divine is to meet an unsettling God.
The entire Biblical narrative deals with the shifting, changing, growing, evolving and even at times devolving understanding of God. The Scriptures contain the record of human experience of God and our reflection on that experience. The marvelous grace is that God uses that medium -- human words -- so that we may meet the Eternal Word, the Logos made flesh of whom St. John's Prologue sings in the first chapter of his gospel.
Whether we have been born here and lived here our entire lives or have come to live here in this gorgeous valley of the Daughter of the Stars, your spiritual life and mine are in motion, called by a God who calls us in the deepest recesses of our soul, inviting us into a living relationship that is redemptive and transformative. As I have said before, God loves us just as we are and meets us where we are; God also loves us too much to leave us where we are.
Our Lenten journey is part of the ongoing movement of God in our souls. Spiritually speaking, we are always in a state of wanderlust, seeking, longing, asking, and inquiring about who God is, why are we here, and where/to whom do we belong -- the fundamental questions of existence that are embedded in all of us and which are not the exclusive concern of astrophysicists, philosophers, and theologians.
St. Luke's Travel Narrative has me thinking that our most important learnings occur when we are consciously aware of the movement of God in our lives. You and I are invited to pay attention. The call of Lent to prayer and study, fasting, and renewal is yet another gracious gift of God's steadfast and unconditional love.
Under the Mercy,