A 40-day road trip

Lee Miller
02/20/2012

A 40-day road trip

Young people from Westwood Lutheran, St. Louis Park, Minn., begin a trip with hope and excitement.

Text study on Genesis 9:8-17, Mark 1:9-15 Lectionary text for the first Sunday of Lent, Feb. 26, 2012

Have you ever gotten to the halfway point of a trip and everyone starts to lose it?

Whenever I have traveled on mission trips, it seems that tensions rise and are released mid-way through the journey. It’s usually related to being homesick. Once feelings are shared, we can continue. But there is always something. I can’t imagine 40 days.

Picture yourself spending 40 days with the same seven people (your family), along with two of every kind of creeping creature upon the earth.

I believe Noah was full of faith as he gathered the family aboard, but does the faith hold out when the rains fall from above and the water rises from below? I wonder, as the days lead to weeks and the water rises, does the tension become as deep as the ocean? Did Noah’s family question Noah’s dependence on the Lord, or did they join him in prayer and worship?

In the wilderness

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness is accounted for in two simple verses.

No tale of temptation, only our interpretation. The Gospel invites us to imagine Jesus’ journey and wonder how he felt or was sustained through the whole trip.

Both of these journeys have something in common: a promise of hope.

On the ark, I believe it was God’s promise that sustained Noah and his family, and that promise was the rock of salvation. I believe it was the hope that God had a future in store for them, a future filled with the fullness of life and all creation. And that hope, seeded in Noah, grew like a tree among his family.

I believe Christ anchored the ark and is at work in the story even though he is unnamed. For us, Christ is the promise from God; Christ is the power to proceed and the strength to love.

In the wilderness, I believe Christ, the Rock, brings the Spirit of the waters of baptism into dry places of wandering. When Christ was driven into the wilderness, it was to go into those places of abandonment of hope, to bring life again.

Talkback:

• Where are you as we begin our 40-day journey of Lent? Are you feeling overwhelmed, keeping your head above water? Are you drowning or desert dry?
• How will Jesus anchor you in these 40 days? How will the wellspring of life bring you renewal?
• How does hope find you in the midst of the journey of faith? What sustains you when you are weary and tired?

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Lee Miller II serves as lead pastor of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Philadelphia. St. John’s is a vibrant worship and community center and founding partner of Feast of Justice ministries for hunger and literacy. Lee is married to Heather, and together with their son, Griffin, live in the Tacony section of Philadelphia. Lee also enjoys playing trains with Griffin, and he and Heather are avid runners.

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