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  • Writer's pictureRev. Drew Stockstill

Emerge: The Wilderness

Good morning and welcome to a new week in the wilderness. Try the manna, it's delicious. 

This week we explore the theme of Emerging from the Wilderness. 

Monday, May 17, 2020 In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. O God, make speed to save us; O Lord, make haste to help us. Scripture Reflection Matthew 4:1-11

Then the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him. After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was starving. The tempter came to him and said, “Since you are God’s Son, command these stones to become bread.” Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread, but by every word spoken by God.” After that the devil brought him into the holy city and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down; for it is written, I will command my angels concerning you, and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.Jesus replied, “Again it’s written, Don’t test the Lord your God.” Then the devil brought him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He said, “I’ll give you all these if you bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus responded, “Go away, Satan, because it’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” 11 The devil left him, and angels came and took care of him.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “emerge” as, “to move out of or away from something and come into view,” and to “recover from or survive a difficult or demanding situation.” We can all think of difficult or demanding situations we’ve faced in life, and how we survived them and recovered. High school, college, and graduate school seniors are celebrating that they survived the challenges of education and are emerging to face whatever lies ahead. If you’ve been very sick, you remember some emergences do not come all at once but recovery takes time. There are difficult situations that are forced on us: joblessness, the ending of a relationship, illness, injury, depression; and there are difficult situations we face willfully: education, a hard project at work, a new health and wellness plan, a new relationship. I am feeling some butterflies in my stomach about a wilderness I will be facing later this summer. Unless things change, at the end of July, I will spend five weeks in Officer Development School in Newport, Rhode Island for my training as a chaplain in the Navy Reserve. I am both excited and nervous about the physical and mental testing of that wilderness, but all the more eager to emerge and to minister to the women and men of the sea service in our region, while serving Christ Lutheran Church. In both the wilderness we choose and those that find us, we face challenges, hard choices, exhaustion, and despair. We can be tempted to give up, take short cuts, and cope in unhealthy ways. But Jesus models a holy way in the wilderness. Before Jesus began his public ministry, he followed the Holy Spirit into the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him. Jesus faced this wilderness willfully and with purpose. The Holy Spirit knew who Jesus would face there at his weakest point. We face our own demons in moments of such weakness. But Jesus had an anchor to ground him in the truth, to help him not get swept away, to help him through. Jesus was anchored in the word of God. That’s not to say that just reading the Bible will give us all the answers and make everything better. But the Word of God in our hearts anchors us in truths greater than the lies we face in the wilderness. The Word of God reminds us that we are somebody who matters and worth continuing to fight for. We are God’s own children, made in God’s image and with great purpose. The Word of God reminds us that not only does God love us, but there are people, a community on our side, rooting for us in the wilderness. We are not alone. The Bible gives voice to men and women throughout centuries who have faced hardships and struggles and who God has been with and who God used for God’s purposes. The Word of God anchors us in promises more lasting and worth struggling for: the promise of God’s presence, the promise of God’s blessings, the promise that we have valuable gifts to offer others in the world that need us. The Word of God anchors us in the promise of the grace of God, forgiveness, unconditional love, and belonging. Jesus faced each temptation in the wilderness by grasping his anchor, the Word of God. And Jesus becomes that anchor, the living word for us. He entered the wilderness to show us that we can always find him there and he will be for us, the bread of life. He will guide us home. With him we emerge: we come into view, the view of the Kingdom of God, having survived our many difficult and demanding situations of this life. “When I have no more strength left to follow, Fall on my knees, pilot me, Savior please.”

Let us Pray: Satisfy us with your love in the morning, and we will live this day in joy and praise. We praise you, God our creator, for your handiwork in shaping and sustaining your wondrous creation. Especially we thank you for      the miracle of life and the wonder of living…      particular blessings coming to us in this day...      the resources of the earth...      gifts of creative vision and skillful craft...      the treasure stored in every human life... People of God, for what else do we give thanks? Add your own prayers of thanksgiving. We dare to pray for others, God our Savior, claiming your love in Jesus Christ for the whole world, committing ourselves to care for those around us in his name. Especially we pray for those who work for the benefit of others . . . those who cannot work today . . . those who teach and those who learn . . . people who are poor . . . the church in Europe. . . . and those of this community:  The family of Joan Harris, Dick Shepley and his family, John and Susan, baby Kellan, Mary, Sharon and Tom Herrold, Duana, Larry, Jennifer Watkins, Brenda and Cliff, Bob, Rochelle, Karen and Steve, Barb and Butch, Sharron Blezard, Marcia, Rose, Phil and Alice, Stanley Hope, Jake, John, Julie, the nurses of our Medical Outreach Clinic and… People of God, for what else do we pray? Add your own prayers. As you cause the sun to rise, O God, bring the light of Christ to dawn in our souls and dispel all darkness. Give us grace to reflect Christ’s glory; and let his love show in our deeds, his peace shine in our words, and his healing in our touch, that all may give him praise, now and forever. Amen. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit watch over us. Amen.

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