Wilderness [Ad]Venture

SunriseForestMistIL
“In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’” — Matthew 3: 1-3

For many of us our desire to connect with the numinous leads us to venture out into the ‘wild places’.

Scripture speaks of the omnipresence of God – present everywhere, in all places at all times, and beyond time and place (eternity). Yet, we know from both Scripture and experience that the Presence of God is made known in particular ways in distinct places. Made known in the ‘Houses’ of God (tabernacle and Temple) as well as in the wild places.

God comes to us in the the wilderness, literally and figuratively. The wilderness is the place of  wandering and wondering. We venture out into the wild places to ‘wander about’, but also to ‘wonder’ about stuff that matters. There is a freedom to be and to think in the wild places, removed as we are from the noise and the distractions of urban and sub-urban life. We talk about ‘getting some space’. Wide open spaces widen the mind.

The wilderness can be an enforced experience, as it was for the People of God, fleeing Egypt and entering into the desert, where they wandered for forty years, wondering what this Strange God was doing among them.

The wilderness can also be entered voluntarily, as in the case of John the Baptist, and latterly Jesus, who spent one day for every year his people spent in the wilderness, confronting and overcoming dark spiritual forces. Aesthetes and truth seekers have been venturing out into the wilderness for millennia. Many never returned.

The wilderness is the place of confrontation. A place where we confront ourselves and our demons. Where we come face-to-face with our smallness, frailty and vulnerability. For:

“All people are grass,
their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it…”
Isaiah 40: 6b – 7

This is the reason why John the Baptiser calls the people out from village, town, and city. Calling them into the wilderness to confront themselves and their ‘sin’ – ‘The Human Propensity to F**k Things Up’ (Francis Spufford, Unapologetic). And to repent.

Advent, like Lent, is a season of preparation. Preparing for Christ Mass. And again, like Lent, it is a season of repentance. Repentance (turning back to God) is both starting point and staging post(s) on the journey of discipleship – following in the Way of Jesus Christ. There can be no true discipleship without repentance.

The questions that I am asking myself this Adventide is this: What is it that I need to confront in myself?. What do I need to turn away from? For I have heard a voice crying out in the wilderness…Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Keith Hitchman, Christ Church Toxteth Park. Sunday 10 December 2017. Advent 2.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close