TEXT: Luke 4:1-13


Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness … (Luke 4:1)


And so begins our Lenten walk.

Forty days in the wilderness.

Forty days with Jesus.

With Jesus, and yet somehow also very alone

with ourselves.

Forty days, actually, following behind Jesus,

trying to keep track of his footprints

in the desert sand.

Looking for him

and yet never quite catching sight of him

in this desolate place

where wild beasts and demons confront us

and threaten us

and challenge us

and bring us face to face with



Wild beasts and demons.

All that we have been and

all that we fear we may become

or fear that we might be called to become.

Guilt and shame.

Hidden sins.

Grief and regret and

roads not taken.

Opportunities that terrify us.

Visions from which we would avert our gaze.


Diagnoses, sentences, finalities

which bring, all at once

our destinies

into sharpest focus.


And scare the hell out of us.


And force us

to either

look for God within the wilderness

or to

return to

the dust which formed us.


And through it all

the question haunts us:


Dare we sing “alleluia!”

even in

the midst of Lent?


Thou only art immortal,
the Creator and Maker of mankind;
and we are mortal, formed of the earth,
and unto earth shall we return.
For so thou didst ordain when thou createdst me, saying,
Dust thou art,
and unto dust shalt thou return.
All we go down to the dust;
yet even at the grave we make our song:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.



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