Desert Journeys 1
March 1st 2017
Today is Ash Wednesday, when we are invited to travel with Jesus out of our comfort zone and into the wilderness and to follow him as he experiences temptation and hardship. In his desert journey, he was completing a biblical tradition. Moses and Elijah met God in the desert, and John the Baptist first appeared there as a voice crying out in the wilderness proclaiming the coming of the kingdom.
I can’t help thinking of the deserts of the Middle East and North Africa today, and the many refugee and migrant journeys that have been made across them over the last year. As it was for the Israelites fleeing from their Egyptian oppressors, for those escaping war in Syria or poverty in Africa the desert has been a place of hope but also great suffering and danger, especially for children. The ashes many people will receive on their foreheads today are a sign of our mortality and remind us of the fragility of human life. Where is God in this? The recent outcry at the dropping of the Dubs scheme to take in 3,000 unaccompanied children is to me a sign of God on the move, pricking consciences and prodding us into action. From the desert of the camps we are being called to resist Europe’s increasingly strident rhetoric on refugees and to think honestly how we can work towards bringing in his kingdom – to be the voice that ‘cries in the wilderness’ and prepares his way.
Associate Priest, All Hallows by the Tower