Mark 1: 9-15 (Lent 1B)
9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” 12And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. 14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
Jesus entered the waters of baptism and emerged into blessing. But on the heels of blessing came the Spirit who drove Jesus into 40 days in the wilderness. In Mark’s version, the specific nature of these 40 days of temptation by Satan is not described for us.
Perhaps it is also so with us. We emerge from the waters of our birth into life with God and are pleased to hear words of affirmation that we are God’s beloved. But when the Spirit drives us into a spiritually or emotionally dry place (as the Spirit inevitably will), do we learn to resist temptation, clarify who and whose we are, and ultimately rely on the waiting ministrations of God’s merciful angels?
With this meditation quilt, ponder your baptism. Silver threads of water carry you back to the cleansing and refreshment of your own spiritual birth. Where did you hear affirming words that you are beloved by God? How did you sense or feel God’s embrace of you, just as you are?
+ Next, consider your own spiritual path that led you from these waters toward a wilderness. Where was the Spirit in this time? How did you experience this path as growing increasingly dry? Where did your spiritual life begin to lose its “shine” and become dull?
+ Now, enter the wilderness. Feel the times of your spiritual emptiness. Reflect on the times you felt tempted, abandoned, uncertain of your call. Feel it all. Feel the thirst.
+ Going yet deeper into the wilderness, you notice the individual stones. But there, something catches your eye: a glint, a flash of light, of gold. Barely visible, hidden in the crevasse of stones, is something small made of gold. A treasure. A ministration of angels. Hope.
+ Your time in the wilderness comes to a close, and you make your way back along your spiritual pathway to the water. You drink and are refreshed. You begin the next step of your life of discipleship. You may – at times – return to wilderness times, but in these and all times you follow Jesus, and live in the Spirit.