Thursday, December 12, 2013

What Wilderness Do You Wander?

Our texts for this third Sunday in Advent are Isaiah 35:1-10 and Matthew 11:2-11, which you can read here.

Have you ever been to the wilderness? I don't have a lot of wilderness experience, but I do remember the shock of my one major wilderness trip: to the Grand Canyon. As we were driving from Nevada through Arizona to reach the canyon, I was stunned to pass a road sign that said, "Next gas station 57 miles." 57 miles? Who knew there were still places in America you could travel 57 miles without finding a gas station...or even an interstate exit! Where was I?

Then I got to the canyon, in all its majestic rugged beauty, and my favorite picture of all the MANY I took there is this one:
It sounds silly, but maybe not so much I guess after I professed my draw to trees and my desire to be one in the sermon last week: I fell in love with this stubborn, scraggly thing that had stubbornly taken root in rock, pushing through the most hostile of climates and circumstances to find life. This is what you find in the wilderness: stubborn, resilient beauty. Life in unexpected nooks and crevices.

Today's passage from Isaiah reminds us that there IS life even in the wilderness--where there seems to be just nothing. Matthew's Gospel reminds us that even in the dark wilderness of a prison cell, just beyond the walls (and even within them) there IS God at work, even in places where it can be hard to see just what's going on. 

We all find ourselves in different wildernesses from time to time. Look at the various wilderness pictures below. Which one resonates with you? Where might you need claim that "The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing"--even the one you may be walking, wandering, or driving through this day?

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