Healing & Wholeness in the Wilderness
Our theme for Lent this year at NorthPark Presbyterian Church is “healing in the wilderness.”
In the Bible, the Hebrew words for wilderness (midbar, arabah and eremos) appear in scripture over 300 times. Many of the greatest Biblical narratives take place in “the wilderness,” which was a dangerous place. People in the wilderness had to be constantly on the move. Crops would not grow. Wild animals and bandits could strike without warning. Water was scarce.
The wilderness was not a comfortable place, and no one entered “for the fun of it.”
But what we learn from the Bible is that the wilderness is also the place where one can search for the promised land – where one can grow closer to God. And right now, the world feels very much like a wilderness. It is inhospitable, scary, and sometimes dangerous.
Sometimes even the church feels like wilderness, whether changes are new and exciting or the result of loss and pain. When the congregation we know begins to change, anxiety can set in.
Our relationships can also turn into the wilderness. Once joyful and comfortable relationships can become toxic and abusive. Hearts brimming with happiness can become desolate wastelands of grief after the loss of a loved one. Our own minds and bodies can become a wilderness of discomfort, disease, or pain, and we wonder what the future will bring.
But our tradition tells us we can find healing and wholeness in the wilderness. The Israelites received manna from the skies and found a new land to call their own. Elijah found sustenance and the strength to return to civilization and challenge injustice. Jesus himself entered the wilderness to face off against the Tempter and returned ready to fulfill his call as savior of the world.
The wilderness is not a fun place to be, but is there we can find healing. During Lent, NorthPark Presbyterian Church invites you to join us in our search for healing in the wilderness. Whatever troubles you, whatever burden you may carry, whatever feelings overwhelm you, let’s take them into the wilderness so that we may hopefully return, eased of pain and refreshed, on Easter morning.
We have no set path before us. Like our many great predecessors, we will wander to see what we find on our search for connection with God. Though in the past we may have sought new disciplines and fasts to exercise our piety, this year, we will wander and we will heal.
Join us on the journey.
Rev. Kelly Staples is Associate Pastor and Director of Youth Ministries for NorthPark Presbyterian. She grew up a member of First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport, received her Bachelor's degree from Middle Tennessee State University, and her Masters of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.