Oakland church

Lent: An Invitation to be Led by the Spirit

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The journey into the wilderness begins.

On Wednesday, March 1, at 7 pm we begin the journey together in the ancient ritual of Ash Wednesday. Our heads are anointed with ashes to be reminded of our mortality; that we are dust. 

For forty days, like Jesus and like Moses, we are invited to be led by the Spirit into the wilderness of our own lives. Why? To be reminded that yes, we are dust, but not only of the earth, but also of the stars in the heavens. To be guided on our journeys, to be strengthened for the journey, and to be reminded that we, too, are God’s beloved. 

So much in our society shouts out its bad advice to us. We live in a world where in order to be considered normal we must conform to society. Our lives and the world at times seem filled with overwhelming hardships and challenges. 

Sometimes, if we really listen, we may hear the voice of God speaking to us through those least conformed to the patterns of this world, as David Guerra experienced last week in his strange and beautiful encounter with Heaven

Lent is a time of entering the wilderness of our lives, and recognizing, among the many voices competing for our attention, the voice of God, within, that is with us always. 

I leave you with the words of Pulitzer prize winning poet, Mary Oliver, in her poem The Journey, about stepping out into wilderness of our lives. 

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

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