Wilderness Wandering- Sermonizing in Lent

Grace and peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Even as we cling to what is comfortable

We are reminded of our presence in this wilderness

To testify to the Goodness of God’s Word

And of the Good News that is Jesus Christ

Amen.

A couple of years ago,

I had the opportunity to participate

in Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington D.C

Over that weekend, we participated in marches

Especially as the Health Insurance/Health Care issue debate

Was beginning

We stood in front of the Supreme Court building

Witnessing and singing and praying

We held signs showing our support

Because, this is what we are called to do

I remember this moment

Because it has been the only time

In all my protesting and advocacy

That I have personally come face to face

With those who must be considered as too,

People of God

But their tongue could only be translated as hatred

They lashed out, physically got into our space

Damned us that we were not people of God

Because we were not true to the American ideals

(pause)

So we should not be too surprised

When some mornings we awake to the brilliance of the day

And wonder why God left us in the midst

Of this desolate wilderness

(pause)

Maybe I should phrase it like this-

Do you all know that song by Stevie Wonder

“You took me riding in your rocket

You gave me a star

But at a half a mile from heaven

You dropped me back to this cold, cold world”

(pause, wait for laughter, etc before continuing)

Those words could perfectly paint a picture

of how our soul is left sighing

Because we feel as if we are wandering through this wilderness alone

Leaving us with the question

Of why we are even here?

What impact are we even making?

When we can’t even replenish this starving,

Crumbled soil in our hands

That is never given the opportunity

To receive fresh flowing water

That is only seen as places to throw away refuse, garbage,

Or a place to build something that will return wealth, prestige

Instead of returning back to the community,

An opportunity to celebrate the gifts of the Creator God

And the bond that we have with one another

(pause)

Or struggling to cradle fragile lives in our hands

Lives of our sisters and brothers in Christ

That lay in ditches, on the corners of cold concrete

That peer back out at us from the middle of 55th street

Their worn hands empty

That are only viewed as a commodity to fill up prison cells

And assembly line sweat shops

(pause)

We are reduced to a tangled mess of frustration

Because the Holy Spirit drives us out into this wilderness

Finding ourselves marching down city streets

Raising our voices in anger for black and brown bodies

Rejected to access to simply being allowed to breathe

In prayer for the basic human right to exist

As who God has created us to be

Being a witness to the truth

That we are commanded to be caretakers

Not consumers

Of this Creation

Being an advocate as we stand in front of a detention center

When our brothers and sisters in Christ haven’t even been given a chance

(pause)

We find that those we encounter

Those that we are called to share this Good News

Offer up only vacant stares

Because this world sometimes sucks every aspect of moisture, of our lives, right out of us

Because this world can be so harsh

People would rather resort to every person for themselves

Survival of the fittest,

And violate sacred space with their jeers

Why are you wasting your time, out here marching for those people?

You should be only concerned with saving people’s souls, then they will be obedient and not belligerent

Is this what they are teaching you in Seminary, to be disrespectful to established authority?”

(pause)

In reading our Gospel Text this morning,

Have we thought about perhaps

What questions or lamenting Jesus experienced?

Here in Mark, we are not aware of the conversations-

It should be noted

That Jesus has been driven into, instead of led by

The same Spirit which carefully bathed and cradled Him

In life giving Waters

(pause)

Did Jesus speak out into the nothingness

Singing “To you O Lord, I lift up my soul?”

Or in those moments

Jesus experienced what it means to be human

To be wracked with fear and with sorrow

Peppering the ground with questions

Unsure of the meaning

Of being in this wilderness

You’ve affirmed me, surrounded me with Light

The whole world knows I am yours-

And then you cast me out? Into this?

For what?

(pause)

You’ve given me this mission

Called me to this Ministry

Surrounded me in a place where I am affirmed

And then you force me out the door-

So that I walk with strangers down a street

So I stand on a government building holding a sign

So I sit on the cold ground blocking the way

So I can get spat on, kicked upon

Locked up

So a complete stranger can challenge my humanity,

My witness

My following of YOU, Jesus.

Why me?

Why am I out here-

Why can’t I just jump through the hoops

And do what I need to do

And find some secure place, with a nice salary

Where I never have to muddy the waters

Or challenge the status quo?

Nothing is working

They are not listening

No One cares enough to join me

I am tired of doing this alone

I.Give.UP”

(pause)

But see, we are not alone-

Not in this wilderness, no

Because THIS IS WHY JESUS CHRIST was THRUST

INTO the WILDERNESS-

Jesus Christ stood in the face of evil

Of the darkness

And told Satan, “No, not today Satan, Not today.”

NOT EVER

The Good News is that Jesus Christ’s presence

Let this world know

Let negativity, evil know

This world does not belong to YOU

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS HERE, NOW

That this wilderness can turn towards the blinding, healing

Loving LIGHT OF GOD

Turning away that which keeps this world, that keeps us

From the presence of God

Because Jesus Christ put Himself in the midst of destruction

Gave Himself over to Death

Sacrificed His Life on the CROSS

So that when we enter the wilderness in our lives

We are reminders to evil and to this world

That The KINGDOM OF GOD is still Present!

When we march down the street, singing

“I know one thing we did right,

Was the day we started to fight,

Keep your Eyes on the Prize, O Lord”

We push back against those who refuse to see

That we are all called, as sisters and brothers in Christ

That our witness, our testimony,

That we are the angels in the wilderness

Because of who we are-

We are Beloved of God,

And God is well pleased with Us!

Thanks Be To God.

Grace and peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Even as we cling to what is comfortable

We are reminded of our presence in this wilderness

To testify to the Goodness of God’s Word

And of the Good News that is Jesus Christ

Amen.

A couple of years ago,

I had the opportunity to participate

in Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington D.C

Over that weekend, we participated in marches

Especially as the Health Insurance/Health Care issue debate

Was beginning

We stood in front of the Supreme Court building

Witnessing and singing and praying

We held signs showing our support

Because, this is what we are called to do

I remember this moment

Because it has been the only time

In all my protesting and advocacy

That I have personally come face to face

With those who must be considered as too,

People of God

But their tongue could only be translated as hatred

They lashed out, physically got into our space

Damned us that we were not people of God

Because we were not true to the American ideals

(pause)

So we should not be too surprised

When some mornings we awake to the brilliance of the day

And wonder why God left us in the midst

Of this desolate wilderness

(pause)

Maybe I should phrase it like this-

Do you all know that song by Stevie Wonder

“You took me riding in your rocket

You gave me a star

But at a half a mile from heaven

You dropped me back to this cold, cold world”

(pause, wait for laughter, etc before continuing)

Those words could perfectly paint a picture

of how our soul is left sighing

Because we feel as if we are wandering through this wilderness alone

Leaving us with the question

Of why we are even here?

What impact are we even making?

When we can’t even replenish this starving,

Crumbled soil in our hands

That is never given the opportunity

To receive fresh flowing water

That is only seen as places to throw away refuse, garbage,

Or a place to build something that will return wealth, prestige

Instead of returning back to the community,

An opportunity to celebrate the gifts of the Creator God

And the bond that we have with one another

(pause)

Or struggling to cradle fragile lives in our hands

Lives of our sisters and brothers in Christ

That lay in ditches, on the corners of cold concrete

That peer back out at us from the middle of 55th street

Their worn hands empty

That are only viewed as a commodity to fill up prison cells

And assembly line sweat shops

(pause)

We are reduced to a tangled mess of frustration

Because the Holy Spirit drives us out into this wilderness

Finding ourselves marching down city streets

Raising our voices in anger for black and brown bodies

Rejected to access to simply being allowed to breathe

In prayer for the basic human right to exist

As who God has created us to be

Being a witness to the truth

That we are commanded to be caretakers

Not consumers

Of this Creation

Being an advocate as we stand in front of a detention center

When our brothers and sisters in Christ haven’t even been given a chance

(pause)

We find that those we encounter

Those that we are called to share this Good News

Offer up only vacant stares

Because this world sometimes sucks every aspect of moisture, of our lives, right out of us

Because this world can be so harsh

People would rather resort to every person for themselves

Survival of the fittest,

And violate sacred space with their jeers

Why are you wasting your time, out here marching for those people?

You should be only concerned with saving people’s souls, then they will be obedient and not belligerent

Is this what they are teaching you in Seminary, to be disrespectful to established authority?”

(pause)

In reading our Gospel Text this morning,

Have we thought about perhaps

What questions or lamenting Jesus experienced?

Here in Mark, we are not aware of the conversations-

It should be noted

That Jesus has been driven into, instead of led by

The same Spirit which carefully bathed and cradled Him

In life giving Waters

(pause)

Did Jesus speak out into the nothingness

Singing “To you O Lord, I lift up my soul?”

Or in those moments

Jesus experienced what it means to be human

To be wracked with fear and with sorrow

Peppering the ground with questions

Unsure of the meaning

Of being in this wilderness

You’ve affirmed me, surrounded me with Light

The whole world knows I am yours-

And then you cast me out? Into this?

For what?

(pause)

You’ve given me this mission

Called me to this Ministry

Surrounded me in a place where I am affirmed

And then you force me out the door-

So that I walk with strangers down a street

So I stand on a government building holding a sign

So I sit on the cold ground blocking the way

So I can get spat on, kicked upon

Locked up

So a complete stranger can challenge my humanity,

My witness

My following of YOU, Jesus.

Why me?

Why am I out here-

Why can’t I just jump through the hoops

And do what I need to do

And find some secure place, with a nice salary

Where I never have to muddy the waters

Or challenge the status quo?

Nothing is working

They are not listening

No One cares enough to join me

I am tired of doing this alone

I.Give.UP”

(pause)

But see, we are not alone-

Not in this wilderness, no

Because THIS IS WHY JESUS CHRIST was THRUST

INTO the WILDERNESS-

Jesus Christ stood in the face of evil

Of the darkness

And told Satan, “No, not today Satan, Not today.”

NOT EVER

The Good News is that Jesus Christ’s presence

Let this world know

Let negativity, evil know

This world does not belong to YOU

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS HERE, NOW

That this wilderness can turn towards the blinding, healing

Loving LIGHT OF GOD

Turning away that which keeps this world, that keeps us

From the presence of God

Because Jesus Christ put Himself in the midst of destruction

Gave Himself over to Death

Sacrificed His Life on the CROSS

So that when we enter the wilderness in our lives

We are reminders to evil and to this world

That The KINGDOM OF GOD is still Present!

When we march down the street, singing

“I know one thing we did right,

Was the day we started to fight,

Keep your Eyes on the Prize, O Lord”

We push back against those who refuse to see

That we are all called, as sisters and brothers in Christ

That our witness, our testimony,

That we are the angels in the wilderness

Because of who we are-

We are Beloved of God,

And God is well pleased with Us!

Thanks Be To God.

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