Blooming in the wilderness

“The Stations” is a Christian devotion going back to the time people first travelled to Jerusalem to visit the sites of Jesus’ life and death. Particular attention was given to the latter and pilgrims would stop at each place on the Lord’s journey from where he was condemned by Pilate to the place he was buried.

holy-bibleThese stops, or stations, settled down by custom at fourteen and people would reflect at each one and pray for what they wanted: Jesus condemned, loaded with the cross, falling down, consoled by his mother or Veronica and so on. Each station has its drama in the life of each of us.

I was thinking of this while listening to an account of what a person was suffering: the hurts he had received and the resentment he was struggling with. And it occurred to me that he was picking and choosing his hurts and holding on to some as fuel to use in some unspecified future duel! It was, I thought, rather like an á la carte approach to the Stations: choosing this one and ignoring that. Maybe one can have one’s favourite hurts! They are the ones I feel comfortable with nursing, while the others are just too demanding to face.

Our life can be a bit of a wilderness. If we face into sorting out a neglected garden we may feel we do not know where to start. Well, the easy thing to say is; start at the beginning and work your way through it gradually. If you come to a recalcitrant buried root, take your time to dig it out and stay at it! When the big obstacles are removed they leave lots of room for new growth.

Isaiah spoke of our lives as a wilderness; “Let it rejoice and bloom and bring forth flowers.” He was looking forward to a birth and when that birth took place John, “in the wilderness”, proclaimed it. But John got it wrong. He thought the “one who was to come” would use his “winnowing-fan and clear his threshing-floor.”  In other words he though Jesus would be a new Elijah, using fire and the sword to judge the nations. But Jesus was more interested in healing and reconciling. John couldn’t quite get that – at least in the beginning.

The good news is that Jesus came to heal the whole person, not just bits and pieces – which is, perhaps, what we would prefer. If we are honest, we would like to go to our grave with some of our hurts intact. But Jesus is offering us all the stations – not just the consoling ones.

11 December 2016                  Advent Sunday 3 A

Isaiah 35:1…10                       James 5:7-10                           Matthew 11:2-11

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