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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

March 2014

“I Have Been Led”

And the Spirit...drove [Jesus] out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.  Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe the good news.’
~Mark 1:12-15


Dear Members and Friends,
For years, now, I've puzzled over those words, “The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness,” where he spent forty days in solitude and prayer, finding the courage to become the person he was called to be.  What does it look like when the Spirit “drives” a person?  With the Season of Lent dawning upon us, we too have an opportunity to spend forty days finding the strength to become the individuals—and the church—that we are called to be.  I daresay the Spirit will even drive us.  Consider this insight from our old friend, Wendell Berry:

            If you could do it, I suppose, it would be a good idea to live your life in a straight line—starting, say, in the Dark Wood of Error, and proceeding by logical steps through Hell and Purgatory and into Heaven. Or you could take the King’s Highway past appropriately named dangers, toils, and snares, and finally cross the River of Death and enter the Celestial City. But that is not the way I have done it, so far.  I am a pilgrim, but my pilgrimage has been wandering and unmarked. Often what has looked like a straight line to me has been a circle or a doubling back.  I have been in the Dark Wood of Error any number of times.  I have known something of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, but not always in that order.  The names of many snares and dangers have been made known to me, but I have seen them only in looking back. Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there.  I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises. Often I have received better than I have deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led—make of that what you will.

            Berry borrows imagery from that old Puritan classic novel, The Pilgrim's Progress, which is an allegory for the life of faith.  But his conclusion is one that many of us end up saying when we cast a backward glance over our years: “I have been led.”  I wonder if Jesus might not have said the same thing after his forty strange days in the wilderness?  Did he say it on the dark night of his arrest, praying in the garden, led away in shackles?  I wonder if he had the clarity to say it from his prison cell, awaiting trial?  Did he say it again from the cross?  “I have been led.”  We don't always know when the Spirit is driving us, leading us.  We see it best in retrospect.  But I am quite certain that we, all of us, will be led—driven by the Spirit—through these forty days and beyond.  God give us eyes to see it!
In Christ's Peace,