Sunday, March 9, 2014

     

What Kind of Spirit Is This?                   

 

 

  

Two weeks ago, SFTS hosted the Muilenburg-Koenig History of Religion Workshop on "Spirit." The multidisciplinary perspectives were fascinating, and yet I walked away with an acute awareness of just how much I don't know about the Spirit. Oddly, that helps me get a handle on the idea that the Spirit would lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. Perhaps, the "otherness" of the Spirit's holiness doesn't always resemble my version of goodness. While this is most likely true, I also wonder if Jesus had this experience in mind when he taught his disciples to pray "lead us not into temptation."

 

Undoubtedly, following the way of Christ in this broken world will include numerous occasions when we are tempted to turn away. Even when our intentions are noble, like intending bread for the hungry, our service might be twisted by our desires for self-congratulation. Likewise, our advocacy for social justice might be merely power grabs for our versions of justice.

 

The Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness immediately after descending upon him as he rose from baptismal waters. Early church tradition developed around these forty days in the wilderness, as a time of preparation for baptism that would occur during the Easter Vigil, after the novitiates vowed to renounce the ways of evil in the world.

 

This Lent, let's reflect on the weight of these baptismal vows. Do you want to follow the way of Jesus in a world that includes crosses? Do you want to renounce the powers and principalities of evil? Do you want to turn away from promised securities in order to follow the One that promises abundant life? Do you really want to be a disciple?

 

Holy God teach us the way of becoming a blessing,

and of the otherness of your liberating justice

...and lead us not into temptation. 

  

       

Bentley Stewart 

SFTS M.Div. Student