As you know by now, one of my favorite ways of talking about the life of a Christian is to say we are walking the Way of Jesus. It’s what I’ve called the discipleship class I’m teaching, and I am calling our Wednesday evening Lenten supper series “A 40 Day Walk with Jesus.” Why, you ask? The word “Way” is rich with meaning in both the Old and New Testaments. In both Hebrew and Greek, the root word we translate as “Way” carries at least three meanings:
- a literal road or path
- a way of being, a mode of living
- a philosophy of life, a perspective, a pattern
In fact, one of the earliest names for the Christian community was simply “the Way,” as we see in Acts (9:2, 18:25-26, 19:9, 19:23, 22:4, 24:14, 24:22).
Often Lent is described as a journey with Christ to the cross. I have spoken of it that way many times. Recently the metaphor of a Lenten “journey” has been criticized by Lutheran biblical scholar Rolf Jacobson, who points out that a “journey” makes it seem as if we are reaching some spiritual destination by our own power, or that we would choose to go all the way to the cross.1 Instead, what we believe is that Jesus is on a journey and that he journeys to find us wherever we are! And yet our lives are a journey. We journey through the phases of life, from school or training through a career; from meeting the love of our life through the growth of a family; from a moment when God found us through countless experiences as a member of the Body of Christ.
What Jesus does is find us on our Way, and his Way merges with our way. In Lent, we will hear story after story of Jesus journeying to find people who are lost or left behind along the way. First he meets Nicodemus, an important but misguided Pharisee; he has a thrilling conversation with a shunned Samaritan woman at a well; he heals a man born blind; and he responds to the death of his dear friend Lazarus by giving him new life.
Let me be clear – none of these characters set out on a journey to go find Jesus. None of them decide figure out the mystery of the cross on their own. Likewise, we cannot cross the gap to find God, and with the cross looming, I think we’d be turning and running just like the disciples did. But Jesus does find us, whatever way we’re going, and he opens the door to his Way. So whichever way you may be going, don’t be surprised if Jesus bumps into you over the next few weeks. This Lent, Jesus will open your eyes and unstop your ears – you will feel the Spirit moving, the water rushing over your head, and taste the goodness of God in bread and wine. When Jesus meets us, he will expose our sin, our ways of death, our mortality and our absolute need for God. And then he will love us to the end. He will go all the way. That is his Way, and by his grace and power, it will take the place of the ways of this world in our hearts.
By the way (hehe), here is the schedule for our Wednesday Lenten evenings:
A 40 Day Walk with Jesus
This Lent, we will be taking a walk with Jesus – a journey into our Baptism, a journey with Jesus to the cross. Each Wednesday night we will gather at 6:00pm to share a simple soup supper which will be followed by discussion and activities centering on the promises we make in Baptism. We will close with a brief Lenten devotion. These evenings will be shared by St. Jacob’s and Trinity, and we will be alternating locations.
March 12 – at St. Jacob’s – Love: Compassion for God’s children
“to live among God’s (faithful) people (and unfaithful ones too)”
March 19 – at Trinity – the Wisdom of God: Faith Seeking Understanding
“to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper”
March 26 – at St. Jacob’s – Vocation: Our Calling(s) in the name of Christ
“to serve all people, following the example of Jesus”
April 2 – at Trinity – Justice: Seeking First the Kingdom of God
“to strive for justice and peace in all the earth”
April 9 – at St. Jacob’s – Witness: Claiming our Voices
“to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed”
1Rolf Jacobson, “Rethinking the ‘Lenten Journey’: The Train Has Left the Station (Part 1 of 2),” http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?m=4377&post=3025 (accessed February 26, 2014)