The Oasis - February 3, 2021
Author: Rev. Eric Dupee
February 03, 2021
Rev. Eric Dupee
When Isaiah proclaimed, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,” he was saying we need to be remolded. Clean up your act, he urged. In the wilderness, change your head, change your allegiance, change your life.
From Rewilding the Way by Todd Wynward
Lent is a 40-day period intended to reflect the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness. During that time, he fasted and encountered the Devil. It was a time of testing and preparation in which he experienced the kinds of things all humans face: hunger, temptation, and loneliness. Therefore, the church’s observance of Lent is preparation for Easter, often marked by the spiritual disciplines of prayer, confession of sin, and fasting. That’s why many of us endure the discomfort of giving up things like chocolate, alcohol, or meat for the season of Lent.
When the pandemic closed things down during Lent in 2020, and it was clear that Easter would not be the celebration most of us love, I encouraged my church to view the distancing and the hardships of the pandemic as an extended Lent. Our time in the wilderness would extend beyond 40 days. Based on the information we had at the time, I anticipated things would get back to normal during the summer or in the fall at the latest.
The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 17th and we are still the wilderness of the pandemic. This Lent, I’m inviting you to join me for an exploration of wilderness. Why did Israel wander in the wilderness 40 years between slavery in Egypt and reaching the Promised Land? What was the meaning of Jesus spending 40 days in the wilderness? What is the value of wilderness for us?
We will kick off the season of Lent with a virtual worship service on Ash Wednesday. We will create a desert/wilderness landscape in the sanctuary. My hope is that having that visual will help us to embrace our wilderness time.
I’m developing a weekly Lent devotional based on the theme of wilderness. It will be digital and made available to everyone soon. As I did with Advent, I will invite you to join me on Sunday morning for a discussion based on the devotional.
Lent is a traditional time to focus on spiritual disciplines. I will also lead a time of contemplative prayer. This prayer form combines meditation and Bible reading. If you’re someone who doesn’t pray, because you don’t know how, this will be a good opportunity to learn a prayer form you can use the rest of your life.
Lastly, I mentioned in a recent sermon I would invite you to a book discussion. This wasn’t intended as a Lent activity, but perhaps it could be part of your Lent observance. I’m making it part of mine (coincidentally, February is Black History Month). The book is White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson. It is the National Book Critics Award winner. I will set up a Zoom meeting on March 18th for those who would like to join me to discuss the book. So, get your book soon and I hope you will join the discussion.