Lectionary resources for worship, faith formation, and service
By now we’ve all been cast out by the Spirit into the journey of Lent, this strange wilderness time that, although lonely and desolate, is not without its consolations. Consider that we are living in a rainbow world: the first Sunday in Lent features the story from Genesis that gives us the sign of the rainbow covenant. If you’ve ever been in a flood plain area after high waters have receded, you know that the landscape looks nothing like the beautiful post-ark world we often see in Sunday school art. It isn’t immediately green and full of flowers. It’s mud-covered-smothered and flattened, monochromatic and moonscape-ish. And there are gloomy clouds lingering. It is into this world that the startlingly bright rainbow appears – all the more bright and beautiful for its background of desolation. When Jesus is cast out into the wilderness by the Spirit, he does not leave the world held by God in promise, but rather travels within it together with the wild beasts (also included in the covenant). And there were angels, too – an unexpected cool breeze, a pool of clear water sufficient to his thirst, the acreage of stars above at night. The consolations along life’s lonely pathways are plenty. Lent is a time to practice attending to them so that the next time the Spirit descends like a dove and then casts us out – the next time the phone rings chirping into our day like any other day but this time bringing terrible news; the next time a termination notice lands on our desk light as a feather but heavy with sudden stabbing questions like what to do now; the next time the words fly out of our mouths before we can stop them and we enter the wilderness of regret – we will be more ready and resilient. The lonely pathways shape us as much as the mountain top transfigurations, so let us go forward with courage into this season of learning how to travel them with hope and promise. It is my hope that the practices and worship experiences put together for you by Nightcliff Uniting Church in Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia, will help you do just that.
peace and rainbows,