First United Methodist Church – Omaha
Rev. Kent H. Little
Date: March 17, 2019
Scripture: Adi Granth, Devgandhari, M.4, p. 527
Sermon: “Go! Trust the Shelter”
The Lenten Labyrinth is about journey. We began the journey for this season of Lent last Sunday and we continue today. As I pondered this week’s message and the text we are using a journey from last fall came to mind.
TruDee and I went out to Camp Fontanelle to journey through their corn maze. Now, I have to confess up front, I am not much of a map reader, before GPS in the car that was always TruDee’s gift…still is when we need to watch the map as we travel. As we prepared to enter the maze TruDee was the one with the map. I, on the other hand am one who was willing to just walk in and hope for the best, I mean, what is the worst that could happen, it’s just a corn field right?
We walked, and we walked, and we walked…TruDee diligently watching the map and guiding us on our way, even then running into some dead ends, finding ourselves back where we had just been, or wondering which way we should turn next.
I am perfectly happy putting myself in her hands in these situations because she is good at it. However, I will say, all the while in my mind I am tracking the placement of the music I can hear playing at the entrance and the sound of traffic from the road. Worst case scenario, should we both get lost… follow the sounds of the music and/or the traffic… there is always a way out.
Placing myself in this state of mind allowed me to better enjoy the journey rather than worry about the destination. O, I was still engaged… “I think we’ve already been here.” I would add, or “Let’s try this way…” The journey we were on was a bit evolutionary as we continued, learning along the way, watching for signs, learning what worked and what did not. It was really a matter of trusting the map, trusting one another, trusting that all would turn out well even if we did not know exactly where we were, and learning along the way.
Edward Hays, in his book, The Lenten Labyrinth, cites the logo from the American Railroad company Santa Fe; it became famous for the route from Atchison, KS to Santa Fe, NM. The slogan for the railroad is, “Santa Fe All the Way.” Santa Fe is actually an abridged name for the city founded in 1610 by the Spanish, “Villa real de la Santa Fe la San Francisco…”The Royal City of Holy Faith of St. Francis(of Assisi).” The short from is simply Santa Fe – Holy Faith. He relates the directions for walking the Lenten Maze – “Holy Faith, All the Way!”1
There is something to be said here about our journey toward Easter Awakening and Life as we walk this Lenten Labyrinth together… something to be said about trusting one another, not so much trusting what kind of destination awaits us, what it will be, look like, feel like, reveal to us… but rather trusting in the process, trusting in the journey together that we will learn what we need to learn, we will experience what we need to experience in order to emerge from this journey more grounded, with deeper understanding. And if we trust in this way, deepening our understanding of the journey, we will emerge different that when we entered, and more closely bound together as a community of fellow travelers along the way.
I think about this in relation to the text we read this morning. Jesus too is on a journey. In Luke’s telling of the gospel story, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and there are a good many reasons not to go, there are a good number of things trying to stop him, obstacles to the journey. Some of the religious leaders come to him and name on of the obstacles… Herod… wants to kill him! There will always be things that come up along the journey that will try to inhibit one’s progress. “I don’t have time.” “Too many other things on the calendar.” “The darkness of the injustice along our path is just too much to continue on.”
Just look at where we are today… working on our own journeys individually, discerning the journey for our community of faith here at FUMC not to mention the struggles of the world around us… our fellow Nebraskans struggling to save their homes and livelihoods from the flood waters, or those who have already lost so much… we need to be a part of their journey as well. Another senseless act of gun violence against our Muslim siblings in New Zealand and the grief and anger it brings to our Muslim siblings even here in Omaha… we need to be a part of their journey as well. This Lenten Labyrinth is fraught with not only obstacles, struggles, grief, darkness, and danger…it is a journey of layer upon layer of fellow travelers in need of our assistance and companionship as well as needing to walk with us as well.
This journey of lent is not an isolated, individualistic journey… it is a journey of the whole… it should deepen our one-ness with not only one another… but with the whole of the world… with the whole of the universe and cosmos… we are ALL in this Together!
However it is not like a light switch one can just flip on and we are there… it takes time, deliberation, intention, to place one foot of faith in front of the other…together. It is an evolving Journey into the maze, labyrinth of Life, ever deepening along the way…
I liked how Paul Smith, in his book Integral Christianity, The Spirit’s Call to Evolve, wrote about Religion on the Escalator. I translated his writing in my mind to “Religion on a Labyrinth.”2 He, in essence likens our journey to an escalator, ever evolving, ever moving up into new levels of understanding and connection to the Divine self. He cites Jesus comment “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them, now. When the Spirit of truth comes, that Spirit will guide you into all truth.”
While in Smith’ book and understanding of the faith, there is some sense of destination for this evolving faith and journey….. The journey and process are crucial, integral to the life of the traveler. If we move that image to the labyrinth… we move through the labyrinth ever growing in knowledge and connection learning the Way, evolving along the path as we move toward that deeper connection and oneness with one another and all that is.
Jesus’ destination may have been Jerusalem in this story, but the present moment of the journey, “casting out demons, performing cures…” this is the work of the moment… this is the journey, this is the path… and even that “fox” – not a term of endearment in his day… “will stop me.” And in the midst of his journey of his life and ministry, in this moment… he makes the invitation to the community… “gather under my wings…” a longing for his faith… for the community… to remember they are in this together… this journey is not just his; it belongs to all of us. We are not alone.
We are All in this Together… All of us… as we take the first steps together, may we trust the Shelter of the Divine… and Go.
May it Be So.
1 Hays, Edward, (1994). The Lenten Labyrinth, Daily Reflections for the Journey of Lent, Forest of Peace Publishing, Leavenworth, KS.
2 Smith, Paul R., (2011). Integral Christianity, The Spirit’s Call to Evolve, Paragon House, St. Paul, MN.