Your ways O Lord are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
1 Peter 3: 18-22 The water of the flood is a type of the baptism which saves you now.
He was tempted by Satan and the angels looked after him.
Imagine setting out on a journey and not knowing where you were going! I suppose if someone you trust is leading you, you might be persuaded to head off, but normally you really would need to know where you’re going and why.
If you were setting off on the journey by yourself, with no idea of where you were going, other people would rightly question your sanity!
The football season is starting up in the Rugby Codes and the AFL. In the same way, if players and teams started the season with no clear goal in mind, we could well ask, what they were doing playing the game in the first place. The Cricket World Cup is already being played with clear purpose by all teams.
Along the same lines, if we were to start off on a journey, and we had some idea of where we wanted to arrive at journey’s end, and we headed off without the necessary supplies, clothing or equipment that the journey required, then we’d end up in strife again.
Putting it all like this seems obvious and trite, but in fact it is exactly how our world behaves so much of the time.
The energies shaping much of our world involve a frequently futile search for power, ownership or “success”.
A couple of years’ ago The Labor Party got busy consuming itself, lost its identity and its mandate to govern.
In some respects, the present Government is going the same way with its leadership uncertainty and the way some of its members politicised the Human Rights Commission’s recently published report on children in detention, to give just one example. Combat rather than policy, power rather than authority drive many of our political behaviours.
Europe is doing a pas de deux with Greece to see if Greece can survive as a member of the European community by rescuing it from its excessive debts. The process involved is note pleasing the new Greek Government very much.
Refugees these past weeks have been flooding from Libya to Italy in great numbers.
The direction of our world community is increasingly erratic and dangerous.
We seem to be ok at the shorter journeys, through school, university, marriage preparation, a cruise, a trip to Europe and so on.
It’s the longer and ultimately important journey that seems too much for us to take in! We baulk at addressing the demands of the long haul. The shorter journeys are enough to fascinate us, so we tend to focus just on them and the result is the chaos in which much for the world finds itself.
The story of Noah and the ark serves as a timely call to us as we begin this short intermediate journey through Lent. The time on the ark is coming to a close and a new journey is about to begin.
So that this journey might continue free and purposeful, God establishes a comprehensive Covenant with Noah and all his descendants, and with every living creature.
God tells Noah: “Here is the sign of the Covenant I make between myself and you and every living creature with you, for all generations: I set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the Covenant between me and the earth....Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will recall the Covenant between myself and you and every living creature of every kind.”
It is this Covenant that gives us direction, calls us back when we have lost our way, and in which our salvation and that of all creation will be accomplished.
After all we are created by God, we are made for God and we are nothing without God, so it makes sense that we stay tuned in to God’s great Covenant with us.
Now that’s easy to say. Most of us are a bit like Greece perhaps, or our various Political Parties. When it comes to the main game, we become seriously lost, and the whole Covenant thing with its rainbow reminder, fades from view.
Jesus heads into the desert. He was with the wild beasts, was tempted, and angels came and tended to him. It is in the wilderness, stripped back to his basic self that Jesus hears and understands the Father’s Love for him and his mission to bring that saving love to our world.
For most of us, it’s only in the wilderness that we get to remember the bigger picture. It’s only when all our illusions have been stripped away and all we’re left with is a bit of rocky desert and a couple of wild beasts, that we notice the rainbow and remember once again God’s promises.
Some of us end up in the wilderness without trying.
Some of us probably need to make a decision to go there, so that we can feel our poverty once more, our total dependence on God, and re-engage with the most necessary relationship in our life.
It’s the relationship which alone makes sense of every other Love, for every other True Love, is simply an image of the Love of God.
The wilderness is calling to us this Lent, and for each of us that will mean different experiences. It’s not a matter of climbing into our SUV and going bush. It is rather, deciding to take the journey into the inner wilderness in order to listen for the still voice of Love who calls us home to our deepest truth and freedom.
May this Lent be well lived and well blessed in your heart and in your home.