Thursday, 22 March 2018

Musing on God's covenants

This week at Wesley I reflected on portions of Jeremiah and the Gospel according to John. 

We sang a refrain, words and music by Robin Mann (in the All Together series, number 337) . 

Sing : the grass withers, flowers fade, but the word of God lasts forever 

I will write a new covenant on their hearts, God says through Jeremiah. Even when God’s people have let their commitment to the covenant wither like grass, fade like flowers – God will promise again and again, God will keep God’s promises: evergreen, God’s word endures.
Listen to the poetry in the verses that follow what we’ve heard today:
Thus says the Lord,
Who gives the sun for light by day
And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar –
The Lord of hosts is his name:
If this fixed order were ever to cease
From my presence, says the Lord,
Then also the offspring of Israel would cease
To be a nation before me forever.

If the fixed order were ever to cease, only then will you stop being my people.
As long as creation lasts, so does God’s promise.

Christians have chosen to see in Jesus a fulfilling of what prophets such as Jeremiah speak in such proclamations of covenants to be made, perhaps especially this one which is spoken of as a ‘new’ covenant, the only time the prophets speak of a ‘new’ covenant.
But, prophecy in the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament is not fortune telling or future sight. It is primarily a naming of what is and the likely consequences of the peoples’ actions. It is a speaking of God’s promises, a calling back to God’s way, and it is often a proclamation of hope in the midst of great suffering.
It is not wrong to see Jesus as the instrument of the new covenant Jeremiah proclaims. Generally, it is an act of faithful interpretation: interpretation of experience in light of scripture, and interpretation of scripture in light of experience. Which is why there are references to Hebrew scriptures throughout the Gospels: Jesus and the tellers of his story are interpreting who he is and what God does through his life, death, and resurrection, as part of the ongoing story that is told in their scriptures and tradition. We continue to do that when we engage with our sacred writings and traditions, and this keeps them vital and alive.
We do, however, do a disservice to Jeremiah, the book, the prophet, the tradition, and to God and ourselves, not to mention the continuing Jewish communities of faith, when we claim that Jesus is the only interpretation of such prophetic texts.
For, whether or not the new covenant Jesus makes is the one promised by God through jeremiah, Jeremiah speaks of God’s ongoing action of renewal and reconciliation. The people of Israel are anticipating new things from God because they have learnt from the stories of their ancestors that they can expect God to renew promises, keep promises, make new promises, even when they have broken them, and should really suffer the consequences.
To pick up from that beautiful poetry in Jeremiah:
Thus says the Lord:
If the heavens above can be measured,
And the foundations of the earth below can be explored,
Then I will reject all the offspring of Israel
Because of all they have done.

even as we have heard that God will forgive, God reminds the people that the covenant makes demands of God and the people if the covenant is broken. It is only by God’s grace that God withdraws from the rejection demanded by the betrayal of unfaithful people.
God’s grace is infinite – can the heavens really be measured? They are vast beyond our comprehension. Can the foundations of the earth be explored completely? Well, I suppose we’re getting close, but no, not really. So because of all they have done, God’s people ought to be rejected by God, but God’s faithfulness is not as fickle as ours. It is as unfathomable as the heavens and the earth, which we understand only in part.
Grass withers and flowers fade, but God’s word endures.

Sing: the grass withers, flowers fade, but the word of God lasts forever 

As followers of Jesus, we are people living in covenant relationship that is made through Jesus, as we remember and celebrate in baptisms and the eucharist. In the portion of John we heard today, we hear God’s promise – Where I am, there is God. Jesus is incarnate in humanity, God is incarnate in humanity. God’s promise not only endures, but adapts in relentless pursuit of reconciliation. Covenant is relationship, and that is what God wants, loving, healing, relationship.
And lest we become complacent with all this talk of God keeping and making covenants, as if there is no cost to the keeping of a covenant for God or for us, let us listen to the promise Jesus makes again. This is one of my prayer-poems, with copies at the door.

Jesus’ promise

When I am lifted up
I will lift you up
I will bring you with me
where I am going.

Hung out to die:
come with me;
laid out to rest:
come with me;
into the arms of death:
come with me,
stay with me.

When I am lifted up
I will lift you up;
I will bring you with me
where I am going.

Whatever the cost – and it is great – in Jesus, God says to people of all nations, I will be your God. As it endures, God’s promise also extends.

Notice it is Andrew and Philip to whom the Greeks come. Andrew and Philip are, in John’s gospel narrative, the first Jesus calls to be his disciples. Now, they receive the approach of the first in this narrative of the gentiles seeking to be Jesus’ disciples. Discipleship is passed on, the circle expands and includes more and more into God’s covenant relationship. We participate in that relationship through our relationships with each other.
What about the response to the request, we want to see Jesus – which in the cultural context of teachers and disciples is a request to become disciples.  Jesus’ response to the Greek enquirers, is that one comes to Jesus, one becomes a disciple, through his death. This covenant is made with Jesus’ blood: his death and resurrection are the means by which God pursues reconciliation this time.
Further, it is also through our own ‘death’ that we enter this covenant relationship. For as we have heard earlier in Lent, we hear again today, you must lose your life in order to gain it. Life in this covenant relationship is different to life according to the ways of the world, and we have to let our ‘worldly’ life go if we are to embrace life reconciled to the ways of God’s love and wisdom. Such a way of life is characterised by the mutuality of God, Three in One, and God with believers, believers with others. John sees Jesus’ death and resurrection as congruous with his life, and the mutuality of Jesus with God is highlighted through John’s portrait of Jesus, a mutuality that characterises covenant relationship with God.
Mutuality seeks to respect, affirm, nurture, and encourage the full dignity of each person in the relationship. Here at Canberra Central, I have been learning how you have been reshaping pastoral care from the sole responsibility of elders to the shared reciprocity of all members of this parish in a way that embraces this respect and encouragement of the full dignity and wellbeing of each other. This is covenant relationship. This is relationships of promise: I promise you loving kindness in pursuit of your wellbeing, and I accept your loving kindness in pursuit of my wellbeing.
We may not spill blood in the making our covenant relationships with one another, but it will cost us something. We will have to give up the ways of the world, so very hard to resist, ways that pressure us to seek our own wellbeing first. But although we are sold ways to find success, riches, sex, a particular kind of family or beauty or life, the ways of the world will not lead us to the wellbeing we will find in covenant relationship with God. It will hurt, it will cost us much, but as with the wisdom of God which we recently discovered is foolish in the eyes of the world, wait for the paradox: though it will cost you much, it will give you more than even the world can promise you.
Jesus will lift us up with him on the cross – but then Jesus will lift us up with him into resurrected life. And as we heard from Thorvold Lorenzen this week, we know resurrected life by walking resurrected life, by living into covenant relationship with God who relentlessly seeks reconciliation with creation. Through living relationships of reconciliation, we know the reconciliation of ourselves with God, the promise God makes again and again.
So let the grass wither, let the flowers fade, and see through it all the relentless, evergreen love of God, whose word, promise, covenant, endures to keep us in relationship with God, for the sake of our life.

Sing: the grass withers, flowers fade, but the word of God lasts forever 

Thursday, 8 March 2018

On death as choice

In our parish during Lent, we are holding four discussion evenings on themes of death, resurrection, life after / beyond death. Topics we rarely engage in seriously, for they are big, and our ideas tap into deeply held beliefs, and it makes us vulnerable to expose them and bring them into conflict (however friendly and respectful) with the different ideas of others.

This week, it was my turn to facilitate the discussion. A few of our congregation couldn't be there, and have asked for notes. Friends further afield are also interested. So here is roughly what I said.

Lent discussion: choosing life rather than death. Surviving depression and suicide
Claim this as a safe space, in which we will only share as we feel comfortable, will listen attentively, respect each other, and not tell anyone else’s story without permission.

Last week, Ockert said that we love facts, but the one fact that is more certain than all is the one we do not talk about: we will die. That is a fact.

This evening, we’re going to consider whether, or when, death can be a choice. Why don’t we start with the ideas and questions we are each bringing to the room. Take five minutes to discuss on your tables – can death be a choice?

my ideas

– protecting another

– the choice may be to accept death

– euthanasia – choosing death, or how to die?

– suicide – is choosing death

A personal story might speak truly to these issues and questions. As Ockert and I talked about this series, it occurred to me that such a story might add something helpful to our series. The only story I can tell is my own, and it’s suicide I’m going to talk about, since I know more about it than euthanasia from my experience.

I’ll use poetry a bit to tell this story, because poetry can speak about mysterious and profound experiences in a way that ordinary language sometimes cannot.

This is my story. I am going to tell it openly and honestly, as I have in public settings such as my blog, and my poetry.

You are welcome to ask me anything about my experience. I will be honest about what I can and cannot say, share, answer. Is that ok?

I don’t tell this story to evoke your pity. I am well, I am resilient, I am ok. Yes? I tell this story because the health of our communities depends on those of us who can talk about our experiences of depression and suicide doing just that. We will reduce stigma, and promote greater understanding, and in that way help nurture greater health for those who live these experiences.

I descended into an experience of major depression after high school, five years of isolating back injuries, stress and pressure of year 12, etc. Realised when I was studying for first year psychology exams at uni that the symptoms of major depression were visible in myself.

At first, I kind of pulled myself out of the funk I was in, acknowledged it, and began to talk with friends and family at bit about it.

It got worse.

Then it got really bad, and I started turning into the driveway, switching off the car’s ignition, and sitting there a moment or two a little surprised that I was sitting there, because I had this recurring thought about not turning a particular corner on the way home, and instead driving straight into the tree on the corner.

Poem: 'On not hitting a tree' 

After “Five Thousand Acre Paddock”, Philip Hodgins 1.
 There was only one
tree on the corner and I
drove straight past it.
 Flowers mark the tree
where the car ended
up. I think to myself
that could have been me
 only I would have done it

The final straw of a less than desired essay grade tipped the whole cart over and I sat in the kitchen of the house where I boarded with an older friend from church, alone, contemplating which way I would choose to end my life.

Poem – ‘sinking’ 

I sank to my chair
I stared at the telephone
the bottle of wine
the car keys

I took up the phone
I put it down
I dialled no number

I took it up
I put it down
again and again

wanting to ask
made it no easier to call

I took up the bottle
put it to my lips
I swallowed no wine

I took it up
I put it down
again and again

wanting to forget
made it no easier to drown

I took up my keys
drove holes in the table
I went nowhere

I took them up
I put them down
again and again

wanting to crash
made it no easier to burn

away from the car keys
the bottle of wine
the telephone
I sank into my bed

pause for conversation 

Living had become too painful. For me, depression is a physical ache, with enourmous fatigue, emotional vacuum or overload, and often nausea or a general feeling of being unwell. My thinking is foggy, my appetite is all over the place, and I don’t get any enjoyment from anything. It affects my whole being, so that I hurt constantly, and in many different ways.

Living had become so painful that the only way I could see to stop the pain was to stop living.

That evening when I realised my housemate would be home soon, I finally shook whatever paralysis had come over me, and crawled into bed, where I cried myself to sleep, in my despair at my inability to actually end my life.

I woke the next morning with the thought that I seemed to have chosen to live, so how was I going to manage ? I made decisions to talk to the GP, tell my mum what was happening … slowly, ever so gradually, I began to climb out of that very deep dark hole.

Before we consider the choice to live, I want to pause with the choice to die, and consider where in the Bible, characters have chosen or longed for death. 

Samuel (1 Sem 31:4) and Ahithophel (2 Sam 17:23) seem to choose death out of some sort of sense of honour in war; Samuel to avoid the dishonour of being killed by his enemy, falls on his sword, and Ahitophel after the dishonour of David's escape, hangs himself. Interestingly, Ahithophel is buried in the tomb of his father, unlike the long Christian practice of unmarked graves and no proper funeral for those who died by suicide. 

Judas is the only suicide in the New Testament, regret a strong element to his choice, and perhaps also a sense of honour? Interestingly, there are two different accounts, one in which he went away and hanged himself (Matt 27:5), and the other in which he gutted himself in a field then named 'field of blood' (Acts 1:18). 

Job longs for death, as does Elijah (1 Kings 19:4), Tobit (3:6), and Jonah (4:8), but all of them leave the decision for whether they live or die in the hands of God. 

For the writer of Ecclesiastes, the suffering of the world, full of evil, is so great to bear, that it would be better for those who live and have experienced it to have never been born, rather than live this awful life. 

Paul has mixed feelings about death, almost longing for it because it will bring him closer to Christ (Philemon 1:23). 

What I didn't find, and I haven't done a comprehensive study, is any condemnation of those who wish for or even choose, death. It seems a very human response to the immense suffering we experience. 

[We did talk about Jesus and whether he chooses death, or life; a life and a way of life that seemed to be leading him towards execution. We wondered, though, whether his choice was for life, life that transcends this earthly life] 

One of the ways I thought about it later, visualising the experience, was that at the bottom of that hole, I had sat with my hand on a trap door escape, thinking I was alone. But I realised I was not alone, for there was one I had not shut out – God. I occasionally forget God is here, in some part of my conscious, distracted knowing; but in my deepest core being and knowing, God is, always, and I don’t appear to be able, or want, to let that go.

And for me, as I reflected on my decision to live, that seems to be why and how I chose life rather than death that night in my friend’s kitchen. Because I would not choose to let go of God, to be where God is not.

And here, death means more than simply the end of this earthly way of being. For me, life is synonymous with God, and death synonymous with turning away from God. I don’t think God abandons those who take their own life, for whatever reason. I do think that for me, the choice to pull on that escape hatch felt like a choice to leave God, who was there in the darkness with me. Examining my choice to live helped me to turn back towards the light that was there all along. And that gave me enough hope to take my hand off the trap door, and begin to find a way to embrace life more fully again.

I can continue to choose life, continue to experience wellness even in the midst of living with depression, even when it gets very dark indeed, which I’m afraid it has once or twice since then.


A long way from Venice, Antonio & Shylock, an attacker seeks his prey

With stealth, Darkness approaches
out of the radiant day.
He is your foe in a tightrope war,
seeking another fray.
You’ve beaten him before,
you know how to win,
but this war is never over,
he will reappear again.
You cannot jump, you cannot fall,
into the unbounded chasm below,
for that way is to lose.

You have no choice, you must fight,
if you want your chance at life,
and you know what you must do.
From the shadows he will strike,
anticipate his move;
You must prepare your bosome for his knife.

When we make a choice to die, it is never in a vacuum

Blue, Koala? [Listen here] [Buy the book here]

Something that has been important for me is that even though I have family and friends close enough to hold light when I cannot, and they are integral to my living, and living well, I do not make the choice to live for them. What a burden that would be for them and for me. I chose, and continue to choose, life – for the sake of life, and for myself. These days it is less a choice between life and death, and more a choosing to live well, to embrace life’s fullness and richness, and to nurture wellbeing for me and the communities in which I dwell.

I ran out of time to read this final poem, but people had it on their hand outs. 

tenuous wholeness

beneath a sepia sky
of rainclouds reflecting
streetlights my cheeks are wet,
not by rain,but by the profound
discovery of wholeness, 
however tenuous, 
painted against a black 

scars an etching of regret, 
edges faded and worn, 
colour stretched and yet –
piercing through to the heart
eyes that shine despite it all
for a precious, 
tenuous moment

All poems included here are (c) Sarah Agnew, and are included in On Wisdom's Wings (Ginninderra Press, 2013), available for purchase from me for $25.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Midweek Musing: a new presbytery

Along with a new city, new congregation, new state/territory, I also have a new presbytery to get to know. Saturday was the first time I gathered with the meeting, and I noticed a few things.

The meeting is very anglo in its ethnicity, only a couple of people in the room with different coloured skin. While many of our congregations are quite diverse in our ethnicity, mine included, the representation in the regional meeting is not. I wonder why that is? Is the multicultural nature of the congregations indicative of a more transient element of the population, not here long enough to become the known and trusted members to take on such roles and responsibilities? Are our meetings and structures quite western, and therefore alienating to people from different cultures? I wonder.

The mood was positive, light, full of humour. People were happy to be there, happy to see each other, happy to share a joke with each other. In their welcome of me, it was clear that people had paid attention to the communication about which new ministers were moving to the presbytery, what our gifts are, where we've come from. One of my fellow ministers in the presbytery expressed the hope that the wider presbytery would be able to share in the gifts I, and other of our new colleagues, bring here. While the commitment to the work of the congregations is clear, the vision is wider, to the whole church.

Our meeting facilitators were positive, and clearly committed to enabling the work of the churches as the embodiment of the body of Christ in our local settings. There is a proactive element to their work, and openness to their communication, a humility in their leadership and willingness to laugh, even at themselves.

I was greeted by one of my new presbytery colleagues with a hug – we've met once before, and have many mutual friends, but I was delightfully surprised by this sisterly welcome.

As I said goodbye, another fellow minister said, I'll see you at the ethics and ministers' gathering in a couple of weeks. It's fun, we have a great time.

Of course nothing is perfect, and I'm sure the imperfections will become visible soon enough, but overall, I think I am going to like it here in the Canberra Region Presbytery.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Midweek Musing: stories and sunshine

This week, an episode from the adventures in getting to know my new city.

Annette was visiting for the day, in order to experience the Songlines: Seven Sisters exhibition at the National Museum. We spent a wonderful two hours immersed in a story that is held by a number of Indigenous Australian communities, and traverses much of the country from the West towards the centre. To have the story told in Indigenous voices, via the app we could download and listen to on our phones with our headphones, connected us to the story in a very rich way. Various artistic media were employed so as to evoke the stories and our senses. I am deliberately not telling you the story itself, for that is not my story to tell.

Lunch by the water reminded me of one of the things I missed most during my Scottish Sojourn: the outdoor lifestyle of Australia. It's just not possible in a country that is so much colder and wetter than ours. Actually it was an interesting paradox or juxtaposition or something, for Edinburgh is a very walkable city, and I did walk everywhere, so was outside a lot. Even so, I was paradoxically also quite stuck inside for three years. Pubs and cafes mostly don't have verandahs as they do in Australia; I lived in appartment buildings, three floors up with no balcony. There was no living outside, no lingering or eating; I occasionally took lunch or study to the courtyard of my complex, but then you're stuck with the cigarette smoke that seems much more prevalent in Europe than Australia, and because outside living is not a thing, it is not provided for, so it is uncomfortable and difficult.

Then we spent a few hours at the portrait gallery, enjoying the stories of Australians of different eras and contexts.

Then, over coffee, Annette mentioned the National Rock Garden. Naturally I was curious, so we found it on the map and went to take a look.

Not what you were expecting, right?

This seems so typically Australian, with our Big Pineapples and Bananas and Rocking Horses and Guitars (look them up). Big Rocks. We decided to give awards to some of the states for their rocks.

NSW: greediest, for they have two different rocks.
WA: yummiest, for theirs looked to me like a giant block of chocolate.
Vic: most hipster, for its top hat look.
SA: prettiest, for its all rainbows and sparkles.

You come down from the National Arboretum, cross under the Tuggeranong highway I think it is, and there it is, a collection of rocks beside a car park and a roundabout. Actually, my parents and I discovered the roundabout with its horrid speed bumps when I missed the turn onto the highway a few weeks ago, but didn't realise the rocks were something of significance. The Federation Rocks, opened in 2013 as part of the celebrations of the centenary of Canberra.

Be sure to check them out on your next visit!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Midweek Musing: Enter the dark

Lent began this week, and we went into the wilderness with Jesus. 

Consider a seed. Part of a flower or tree or blade of wheat. It has lived with the plant, breathed with the plant, then felt the time draw near for it to leave the plant.

Separation. Loss. Grief.
Or life as a seed independent and free.

But if the seed remains a seed, stays as and where it is, it will dry up, its life will fade, and all the potential within will go unrealized.

The time draws near for the seed to fall from the flower, the tree, the blade of wheat. Scary and liberating: and only just the beginning.

Jesus’ baptism seemed full of life and joy and freedom, too. Perhaps it was also, at least a little awe-inspiring, if not downright frightening, with the heavens torn apart like that.

And it was only the beginning.

Parting company – from pray the story blog

tear the clouds apart,
rip open the sky,
let me through, let
me through - and Spirit
nose-dives like a dove for
a worm, 'tward Wisdom
Incarnate to embrace,
as the voice, the Source
declares what is: Beloved,
offspring of Love Divine,
such delight --

and then she turns,
she drives him out to the wilds
and the beasts; did Spirit speak
to the angels as they passed
in flight? Don't leave him
alone, though he must go and we
must stay, I'm away
to wait for time to pass,
and to mend the hole in the sky ...

To realise the potential of this baptized life, Jesus had to enter the wilderness, as a seed must enter the ground, the dirt, the deep, dark, earth.

The time comes in any journey towards life for a death, a letting go, a withdrawing from the light.

In the warm embrace of earth, the seed might find comfort, perhaps even joy in leaving the light for a darker place.

But then it begins. The seed bulges, expands, early joy at growing bigger replaced by pain when its shell cannot contain what is growing inside. The breaking open hurts like nothing the seed could imagine, if seeds could imagine; and if it could scream, I imagine it would scream
Pink roots stretch from within to draw deeper into the earth. A single, fragile, green shoot unfolds, slowly reaching back towards the light and a new becoming.

For Ash Wednesday here this week we saw a film composed of images by UK artist Si Smith, images of Jesus during his forty days in the wilderness.
Early on, the images depict Jesus a little perplexed at his situation perhaps, then delighted, as he played games with rocks, watched foxes, talked to birds, and lay down to closely observe a flower.
The joy of Jesus’ solitude turned to pain as the artist imagined the heat of the desert, the agony of hunger, the demons we face when we are alone with ourselves.

The very first images of this series depict Jesus putting down his carpentry tools and walking away from the town, more his own choice than the being driven out by the Spirit of the story in Mark’s gospel account, and my poem.
Jesus withdrew from his old life in order to enter the new one. In Smith’s forty images, we are invited to consider that Jesus needed a season between his season of carpentry and family and that of announcing the realm of God. A time in which the shell of the seed broke open, so that the promise and potential could begin to emerge.

It is a seasonal cycle the earth enacts with each turn around the sun; constant letting go in order for life to continue to grow. And it may seem beautiful in creation, but it is costly and painful, too.

So why is this important for us?

We are entering a new season as a church, the season of Lent. Our church calendar is like the earth’s turning around the sun, bringing us regularly into the different parts of the story that will stir something in us to keep us growing and alive.

And in this season of Lent, what is provoked is a withdrawing, a letting go; a sometimes painful shedding of old shells, old ways, in order to take on something new, to emerge renewed and ready for who we are to become.
Lent is often described as a season of repentance, which we might think of as a change of heart, a change in the way we relate to one another and God and ourselves. [Dorothy McRae-McMahon / Andrew Collis Bringing the Word to Life Together Year B]  If to repent is to change, to turn around, then Lent is a long, slow, turning back towards the way of God during which we pay attention to the ways we have chosen ‘death’ rather than ‘life’. The ways of God that the psalmist prays to remember in our psalm today, and throughout so many of the psalms, are ways of vitality, of fullness of life. The ways we choose are often paths that diminish vitality and fullness of life for ourselves and each other.
To truly turn away from diminishing of life, to truly embrace the fullness of life, we must understand the paths we have trod, the ways we have been. It is no good to close a door on the darkness and pretend it does not exist.
That darkness may be our own greed and selfishness and unkindness. That darkness may be the collective systems of power and abusive injustice. We cannot change any of it without facing it, seeing it for what it is, and understanding it.
[riffing off provoking the gospel]
To live more fully into the light, we must first enter the dark.

That is the invitation of this season of Lent.

I would like to finish with the litany I wrote for our Ash Wednesday service, an invitation into this season of withdrawal, of blowing out the candle and paying attention to the dark in preparation for reclaiming the light once more. I invite you to close your eyes if you wish, and use this as a meditation.

In secret
(Sarah Agnew)
litany based on Matt 6:1–6, 16–21

Come into a secret room,
come away from the crowds
and the light.
Come into the secret room
of your heart, your depth,
your all.

Here you are met by God,
and God alone.
Here you confess to God,
and God alone.

In secret, name your hurts,
your fears: none will hear
but God.
In secret bear your scars,
your tears: none will see
but God.

Here you will need your courage,
here you will need to be brave.
But there will be no fanfare,
no heroes’ welcome as we look
only to ourselves.

Look closely, look with care
and attention, at your fullness
of humanity.
See and do not turn away
from what you have done or left

Look closely, look with care
and attention, in a mirror
of God’s deep loving;
look, be seen, and in this secret
place of honesty, find hope,
and healing, and humility.


We enter the darkness knowing that death is only the beginning. We enter the darkness with hope and trust that we will emerge again into the light.

For the seed is pulled by the sun’s rays, and emerges to grow into a flower, a tree, a blade of wheat.

Jesus is carried by angels out of the wilderness, and emerges to grow into the Christ, Messiah, Redeemer of all that lives.

And you. This season of Lent, as you enter the wilderness, the deep earth, your own self, may you break open towards new life, the way of life towards which we are called by God.