Lent 1 – 2/22/2015

Today I’d like to talk about covenants – In the Old Testament reading we had the story of Noah and what traditionally is known in our faith as the first covenant between God and Humans – God would never again destroy the earth using water – In the covenant with Abraham – we see God promising to build a great nation through the faithful man – The faithful persons are to enter into a relationship with God

Today we have what we term in the church as our Baptismal covenant – Through our Baptism we enter into a conscious relationship with God – we are marked as God’s not through circumcision but through water and the Holy Spirit

Today in the Gospel we see that played out in the life of Jesus – what is different between Jesus’ baptism and those being done by John on the others who came to him at the Jordon – The Holy Spirit – there was an indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Jesus – and in Mark it had a dramatic impact of Jesus’ life – it drove him into the desert

You know when I was reflecting on this passage this week I was reminded of a time when I was a kid – there was a wild field between my house and the school yard where we would go and play baseball – in the early summer it was also home to nesting Red-Winged Blackbirds – anyone who tried to cross that field would be harried by these birds – they would drive you from the field by diving and pecking

This is the image I get of the young man Jesus – fresh and full of the Spirit as he comes out of the water having been baptized – and he is so filled by the experience – the Holy Spirit drives him – compels him to seek solitude in which to contemplate what and how his ministry is to take place – he is driven to the wilderness

The wilderness was much closer to civilization in Jesus day and region – people were not so civilized as now – Just to the east of the Jordon there is a place of great wildness even today – Jesus begins his retreat – his refining – sheds the skin of the carpenter’s son and becomes the Rabbi – the Healer – the Preacher – the Gospel Bringer – through the Power of the Spirit

Through his Baptism he entered a new era of his life and brought to us the means by which we too can lead a life of purpose and service – For if we look at our Baptismal vows – we see that they are about living a purposeful life – one of prayer and service – one of fellowship and seeking to see divinity in the world

We become partners in Christ through our Baptisms – through our covenant with God through Jesus – this is the New Covenant we talk about each week when we partake in the Eucharistic meal – We say this is the Blood of the New Covenant – a covenant where sins are forgiven – a covenant not based upon a people but on love

You know we hear a lot today from the more fundamental sects of our faith the emphasis on the Laws of the Torah – Paul in his letters addressed that over nineteen hundred years ago – we can live into the Mosaic Covenant which is found there – the Abrahamic covenant between God and the offspring of Abraham – and if we do that we are called to follow the law – all 600 of them – Paul saw this as a millstone – today though we who are Baptized into Jesus’ covenant with us need follow the covenant he gave us – to love each other as he loved us

Remembering that he loved us so much – that he sacrificed all he had so that we might be free to have a real relationship with the divine – for God lives in love – life abounds in love – we sacrifice for the things we love – and when we look at what we sacrifice for we show the world what it is we cherish above all else

Some of us love our jobs and careers above all else and so sacrifice our families and relationships to that love – some of us love money – or drugs in their various forms – and we enter into our own private covenants with our bosses – we covenant with the things of the world

We’ve been talking this Lent about taking on new ministries new ways of being – this will take sacrifice – we’ll sacrifice because there we are finite beings with finite time and resources – when and if we move out of our comfort zones to try that we are reinforcing our Baptismal covenant – and like all the covenants we have and enter into with the Holy Spirit God will meet us where we are

Jesus went out into the wilderness and struggled with Satan – the enemy of self and togetherness – the one who asks what’s in it for me – and Jesus might of asked himself that in his solitude as he looked at the path his ministry was liable to take – he was waited on by angels – messengers of God – and there are angels in many guises throughout our lives even in the wilderness – even in seeming aloneness

Angels let us know we are not alone – even in our solitude – it is the blessing of the community of faith we share – when we go through pain – suffering – depredation – there are people of the light to call us home – Jesus experienced that and we are promised that – He is with us – that is the New Covenant

We can have a real relationship with God – that is the covenant we are asked to remember – and for us that covenant starts with our Baptism – God will not destroy us by water as the story of Noah tells us – God will restore us – through the love shown to us by his Son – It may come about immediately as happens quite a bit in Mark’s Gospel – it might take place slowly over 40 days or 40 years – however long we are in the wilderness – God is in covenant with us when we turn to him – even when we don’t turn to him too – even though we don’t see it

Join us this Lent – to walk out into a deeper understanding of our covenantal call – listen to the angels waiting and rebuke the powers that try to separate and divide us – the Love of Christ holds the manna to feed us our spiritual food – it is free with the dawn if not hoarded in the night – let’s together venture out compelled as Jesus was by the power of the Holy Spirit and perhaps God will say to us a journey’s end – In you too I am well pleased

AMEN