Second Sunday of Lent (March 12, 2017)
Life is a journey. For most, it is a two-fold journey: the journey out and the journey in. The journey out is the professional journey comprising education, training, earning a salary. The second journey, the journey in is the spiritual journey. Not all make that journey. We have not seen Brittany Spears or Paris Hilton along the way. It is the journey of interiority.
Another pair of choices confronts both of these journeys: being a settler or being a pilgrim, an explorer. Like early folks in our country, some are content to be settlers; others, have a wanderlust sparkle in their eyes. They like to move on. Neither is right or wrong; it just is.
Biblical faith has surely been, basically, a pilgrim faith. We see it in today’s first reading about Abraham and his journey; we see it in both books written by Luke: his Gospel is the story of Jesus on a journey from up in galilee down to Jerusalem; his acts of the apostles is the story of the journey of Paul from Jerusalem over to the heart of the roman empire, Rome.
Explorers are tempted to hunker down, become settlers. Such views often do not take freedom or inspiration seriously. God’s will is revealed more as a light in the present moment --- enough light to take the next step on our unmapped journey.
Our maps are made one journey-step at a time in the company of Jesus. Spiritual journeys are often not mapped out clearly, ahead of time, but are seen only when we pause, turn around and look back where we have come from. Were we to have tried to look ahead when we were back on our journey, the map would have looked like the maps of ancient cartographers who drew dragons and monsters where there were no known paths or ships’ courses.
I like to liken my journey to a walk along a long, pitch-black corridor with dim, overhead lights, 40-watt bulbs at the end of long, light-chains. I walk with hand extended upward. As I walk, my hand hits another chain. I pull the chain and I can see for a short distance beyond. The journey-process continues. That image was a huge help on a personal journey several years ago.
Abram went out, not knowing where he was going. Soren Kierkegaard has well described faith as a leap into the darkness.
We find ourselves with about 10 days of lent behind us. When we turn around and look behind us, we may ask ourselves what progress in who-I-am-becoming do we see? We have about thirty days of opportunity before us. What have we learned from the past ten days that help give direction to our path ahead?
Is our hand outstretched to our lord for guidance? Have we “Put our hand in the hand of the man from Galilee?” Have we actually progressed in these 10 days? Are we becoming “settlers” or are we embracing the Christian-pilgrim image, “moving ahead” to become what we call ourselves: “Christian.”
I encourage you to pause on your journey today and look at your personal journey as well as the resurrection-community journey.
Arnold Toynbee said the most dangerous period for a civilization is when it thinks it is safe and no longer needs to face changes. I agree.
The personal is the harder issue to face; it’s always easier for us to “fix” someone else. Your personal journey will be a determining factor in the life of this faith community.