So it begins. Today Ash Wednesday invites us to observe a Holy Lent, starting with confession and pardon and being marked by the cross of Christ. Now, in churches we use “journey” language with Lent a lot, even beat it to death. But it fits. Partly because for us personally nowadays it’s a longer-term, 40-day trek towards a far-off destination, the hope of Resurrection. It isn’t easy, nor is it really meant to be since the 40 days also connects to Jesus’ wrestling with Satan in the wild (Mark 1:12-13). We try to sacrifice of ourselves and dig in with God. And in the gospel, like Mark, the action follows a kind of path that’s blazing towards Jerusalem and some fell words and deeds by Jesus.
Our church family is going to approach the Lenten journey with a special language. We’re trying to go on a kind of “walkabout” together. Walkabout is a rite of passage for Aboriginal Australians that involves a long-term wilderness time, following ancient pathways across vast tracts of rugged countryside. I understand they take hardly anything with them and survive with nature. Sounds a little insane to our well-ordered, over-scheduled, and safe American culture. It’s the kind of thing somebody like this might do:
(Sorry, I had to squeeze Dundee into this somehow). Maybe we need walkabout to mess with our culture or our “normal”. No, we’re by no means observing anywhere near the authentic Aboriginal version. Duh. And I don’t want this idea to in any way mock their way of life. But we’re to learn from them, and to use this image in our effort to glorify God in Christ Jesus.
It’s also an image that shouldn’t water down Lent. Let’s not settle for pretending this is some kind of nice, little pleasure-hiking trip. The goal is to remember the two challenges before us from last week, carrying over into Lent: to get to know Jesus as a living, breathing person; and to listen to him (which produces action). We intend to walkabout being led by the Holy Spirit; hence, a “holy walkabout”.
Commit to this season. There will be good opportunities for support and sustenance as we travel together, especially on Sundays when we celebrate the Lord’s Day as a journeying community. Another special tool is the conversation we can have here. My Lenten commitment is to post a devotional each day, often something simple or brief, as we focus on walking towards great hope. So check in, leave your comments, and keep those feet moving.