The daily Office readings today include the opening chapter of the Gospel of Mark which recounts the baptism of Jesus by John in the River Jordan. You might remember that the real climax of that story is when God declares the belovedness of Jesus.

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. And 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. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

Yesterday at St Aidan’s I preached about Jesus staring down forty days in the wilderness. I posited that to have any conversation about entering into our own wilderness experiences we need to rewind just a touch to hear what Jesus experienced just before he entered into his wilderness experience. I then offered, as testimony, my own experience of entering into the wilderness of travelling home to Newfoundland for my Mom’s funeral.

The truth is that we all take on wilderness moments — but we must be reminded of the voice of God who has declared us beloved. I am fortunate that I made my journey into my personal wilderness reminded of the love of God as expressed by the people of my community – from the hug of a parishioner in the late evening having received the news of mom’s death, to cards, to flowers, to notes and letters and expressions of sympathy.

Each of us needs to be reminded that we are loved – and in ways that are deeper than the paper-thin expressions of the Hallmark holidays like Valentine’s day. We need people to remind us that the abiding love of God is real and it is expressed in the community – the communion of saints.

As you journey through Lent and as you face your won wilderness – remind yourself of the voice of God that echoes through the people who hold you us…. the voice is whispering in your ear — you are beloved — beloved is where we begin….

Beloved Is Where We Begin

If you would enter into the wilderness,
do not begin without a blessing.

Do not leavewithout hearing
who you are:
Beloved, 
named by the One 
who has traveled this path before you.

Do not go without letting it echo in your ears,
and if you find it is hard
to let it into your heart,
do not despair.
That is what this journey is for.

I cannot promise
this blessing will free you
from danger,
from fear,
from hunger
or thirst,
from the scorching of sun
or the fall of the night.

But I can tell you that on this path
there will be help.

I can tell you that on this way
there will be rest.

I can tell you that you will know
the strange graces that come to our aid
only on a road such as this,
that fly to meet us
bearing comfort
and strength,
that come alongside us
for no other cause
than to lean themselves
toward our ear 
and with their curious insistence
whisper our name:

Beloved.
Beloved.
Beloved.

—Jan Richardson

From Circle of Grace

You can hear yesterday’s sermon here….

 

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