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The title for this month’s opening letter to the Progress comes from Walter Brueggemann’s Lenten devotional. I know it’s hard to believe, but Lent begins in just a few weeks.
“A Way Other Than Our Own” is another way of saying the most fundamental Christian creed: “Jesus Christ is Lord.” It stands to reason that if Jesus is calling the shots, I am not. And the truth is, that is a very difficult and good thing.
If I were in charge, I would not choose wilderness wanderings and suffering. I would vote for more television-time and snack foods. I would take unlimited field trips to new, undiscovered places that require little effort to get to and maximum pleasure. I would prioritize barbeques and bigger checking accounts and while I am at it, I think I deserve a brand new oversized, tricked- out, pick- up truck that can pull my new and improved boat. I won’t worry about the fuel because my lottery winnings would be more than ample to fill the tanks.
The truth is: If I oversaw my life, I'm pretty sure my short lived, adrenaline driven, self-indulgent experiment in lordship would lead to misery. The thing that no one wants, and everyone seeks to escape, may be the most valuable spiritual commodity of all- the benefits that come from suffering, humility and dependence.
Professor Bruggemann is onto something big. He did not create the concept, but rather he interpreted it from his Bible. From very early times, God has been calling people out of their rou- tines to escape, learn, be tempted and to discover the value of what it means to come to the end of one’s self through a journey that is sacred and special to each one of us. You and I are on that blessed journey of faith. Not only us but the whole congre- gation walks in the tradition of Israel, seeking to be faithful in an environment that has as many questions as answers and de- serts as mountain tops.
But the resources we do have are more than adequate to thrive. God is present through Christ by the Spirit. God’s word remains to speak to individuals and congregations that seek direction. This has been and always will be the case for those that walk with God. At the end of this month, we all make a deliberate effort to recognize and live in that reality.