SERMON TITLE: “In the Wilderness”
SERMON TEXT: Mark 1:9-13
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: February 18, 2018, at First UMC—Boy Scout Sunday (Troop #577 with us)
Since many of you have asked about my recent vacation, I thought I’d show you a few pictures. My husband and I drove to southwestern Oregon to visit Steve’s mom and his brother and sister-in-law.(1) The weather was very accommodating for travel, and so we also went to the Pacific Ocean.(2) Our day on the beach was quite warm for early February and only a little windy. We saw daffodils and some trees already blooming, and the rolling hills had already greened up nicely for the grazing cattle and sheep.(3) The evergreen fir and pine forests of the Cascade Mountain Range and the grassy hills of western Oregon were quite a contrast to the barren and brown open spaces of eastern Oregon and southern Idaho that we had to drive through to get there and back.(4) But it’s probably that less-colorful part of our journey that connects better with the biblical landscape of today’s gospel story.
In some translations of the Bible, we read that Jesus went out into the “desert” for 40 days. In other translations, like the New Revised Standard Version of our pew Bibles, we hear the word “wilderness.” To me, those words conjure up different ideas—with sand, cactus, and parched-earth on the one hand and wet, green, mountain forests on the other hand. I suspect that Jesus’ desert wilderness was something in between—a wild, deserted space without much growing there. But whatever the geography was like for Jesus, we know that the wilderness was an important spiritual time. On this first Sunday in Lent, let’s think about Jesus’ experience and what we can expect when we find ourselves in the wilderness.