“Wilderness” (by The Rt. Revd. Mariann Edgar Budde)
Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1
The wilderness is a place of trial and vulnerability. It wasn’t an easy place for Jesus, and it isn’t an easy place for us whenever we find ourselves in a wilderness of our own.
Sometimes we go to the wilderness of our own accord because we know that it’s time to make a change. So, we muster our courage and call the doctor to schedule a physical, reach out to a relative we haven’t spoken to in years, or pray for the grace to forgive ourselves for something we’ve done.
Other times the wilderness comes to us, without warning. The telephone rings and suddenly life as we’ve known it is over. I don’t believe that God causes those unwelcome wildernesses to appear, but I know that God is there to see us through, and that he provides us with the courage it will take to navigate the unfamiliar and sometimes frightening terrain.
Through is an important concept when it comes to the wilderness, for it is not our final destination. We travel through the wilderness on our way to somewhere else. But before we leave, the wilderness has a pearl of great price to impart.
The first wilderness temptation is to try and get out as quickly as we can. It’s an understandable response, given our discomfort, but it guarantees that we will learn nothing from our experience. We leave the wilderness unscathed and revert to our old patterns in life.
The second wilderness temptation, however, is to stay too long. In particular, after an experience of grief or trauma, the wilderness can become a familiar place where little is required of us. Yet invariably, there comes a moment when we must decide to leave the wilderness, even when we don’t feel ready for life on the other side.
Wilderness is a place of transformation. We need to stay long enough to allow it to change us, or to accept the change that is thrust upon us. However, we get there, we go to the wilderness to learn what we must learn and accept what we must accept. Then it’s time to find the courage to move on.
Jesus learned a lot about himself in the wilderness, and we learn a lot about him. What we learn is that Jesus will always put God’s will first. He will never use his power to overwhelm or bully us. Ours is a Saviour who knows our vulnerabilities because he took them on himself. He knows our wilderness, has been there himself. And he offers us the courage and the strength that comes through vulnerability as we make our way through the wilderness to transformation that’s promised to us on the other side.
2020 Annual Vestry Meeting: I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of you for participating at our recent Annual Vestry Meeting. It was indeed a day filled with prayers, fellowship and conversations that makes St. Michael’s thrive and fulfill its mission as a faith community. Again, I appreciate the effort of all who made our annual vestry meeting a success.
Ash Wednesday: I would also want to thank our parishioners for participating at our Pancake Supper and Church Service. May the start of the Lenten season give us some time to continue practising our prayers, bible reading and fasting.
Family Breakfast: Many thanks to our parishioners who supported our Tri-Parish Annual Family Breakfast. It was truly a blessing to the three churches to continue and work together in the name of Jesus Christ. We will let you know of our next collaboration.
Pulpit Exchange: Next Sunday, March 8, 2020, The Reverend Sue-Foley Currie and I have agreed to do a pulpit exchange. She will be leading both our Services here at St. Michaels’s and I will be at St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Ocean Park. Again, please extend your warm welcome and hospitality to our former minister.
Prayer Meeting: Just a friendly reminder that our parish will host a prayer meeting on Wednesday at 12:00 noon. We will be meeting in the sanctuary.
Lenten Devotionals: There are a few devotional resources for your personal meditation (or small group gathering) that are now available to use during this Lenten season. Most of them are FREE. Here is the link to follow.
Yours in Christ,
The Venerable Louie Engnan