Dave Brisbin 2.21.21
On the first Sunday of Lent, after having been through how many Lents? How many Easters? We’re pretty sure we know what Easter is all about. Just ask us, and we’ll rattle off all our theological truths about the resurrection. But when you bring the certainty of your beliefs to Jesus, you’re in for a shock. What would Jesus say? Probably to sell everything you have and come and see how the big Easter you hold in your mind is blocking a life-sized Easter that can actually fit into your daily moments. Every follower of Jesus, every hero of faith in scripture who received a spectacular revelation, a mountaintop experience with God, was immediately plunged into a forty-ness, a wilderness period represented by the number forty that was a time of consolidation and assimilation, of bringing the hugeness of the experience down into the DNA of daily life. It’s the inevitable process in which the great doubt sets back in, but through the action of faith, the great truth distills down for use in real life, if it’s to be used at all.

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From Noah and Moses to Jesus, Peter, and Paul, the shape of the journey is the same. And in the story of Elijah, we see the full shape of his journey from the spectacular miracles on Mount Carmel to the humble silence of a cave on Mount Horeb. And what stood between those two mountains? Forty days in the wilderness… Forty days or years is not literal here; it’s the long-as-it-takes time to grow the “shepherd consciousness” of Moses, the humble anawim spirit that can recognize God in the smallest of things. When Moses is still and small enough, he can see God in a burning bush, and when Elijah is still and small enough he hears his God in the kol d’mamah daqqah, Hebrew for the still small voice or better, the silent sound, sheer silence of God that draws Elijah out of the cave of his wilderness. Lent is the church’s ceremonial re-enactment of the wilderness that precedes the new life of Easter, an opportunity to grow deeper into our own still, small selves and an Easter we’ve not yet imagined.

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