A Lenten Journey: Climbing to the Cross – FIRST Sunday

Mark 1:9-15, Today’s New International Version:
One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” 

The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him. 

Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

“You bring me great joy.”
I cannot imagine hearing anything more delightful,
     more affirming,
     more satisfying. 

We all yearn for that, I think:

to be a source of joy in someone’s life. 

And this goes way beyond what most of us think of when we hear the word ‘romantic.’ 

I happen to be a big believer in romance, true romance – 
     not melodrama, 
     not soap opera, 
     not fuzzy hearts and x’s and o’s scribbled on the bottom of a gooey card. 

Romance that lays a sure foundation,

romance that resonates with commitment,
romance that walks with us through all of it –
     the high-endorphin times and the bottom-of-the-pit times,
     the fireworks and the clean-up afterwards,
     the shared laughter and the separate tears. 

“You bring me great joy.” 

Yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

That’s what I want.

But then…
there’s this little phrase:
     “The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go out into the wilderness…”

Um. This is sounding less and less romantic.
Wilderness. 40 days. Temptation. Wild animals. SATAN. 

There is the saving grace of ministering angels.

But gee whiz, this is decidedly UNromantic, don’t you think?
And yet…
I wonder:

A beautiful and encouraging word at the river.

A time of testing and struggle in the isolation of the desert.
A brand new ministry of fulfillment, repentance and GOOD NEWS. 

There must be a connecting thread here.


And I’m thinking, it just might be romance, after all. 

     A sure foundation.
     Walking through the good stuff and the hard stuff, sometimes alone – but never abandoned.
Maybe, just maybe.

This could be how good, true romance is really built,
built to last.
For eternity and beyond.

Saint Theresa thought you were the most romantic thing going, Lord. And maybe she was onto something. She, and a lot of the mystics who came after her, encourage us to take a good long look at You. A long, loving look at the Real. And when we do that, maybe we’ll see You, looking back at us, whispering, ‘You bring me great joy!’ Wow.

Click here for day one of this series and an explanation of what it’s all about. 

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