On The WayPosted on: March 6, 2019, by : David
‘On the Way’ is our theme for worship during the season of Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday (March 6) and running over six Sundays to Easter. It’s a journey theme – Lent is often characterised as a ‘journey with Jesus to Jerusalem’. But the journey motif can be misleading. Because we are likely to assume, given any journey has a destination in mind, that the destination is the point of the journey.
We may assume that the purpose of Jesus’ journey is Jerusalem and the drama that unfolds there, but that is to devalue the encounters that Jesus has along the way. Similarly, if we think that the purpose of our Lenten journey is Easter, we may miss the wondrous delights that are presented to us ‘on the way’. As we’ll discover in our gospel readings during Lent, what mattered most to Jesus was not the destination but the journey, the people he engaged with and the stories he told along the way. Perhaps this is true in life: it’s not the destination that matters most, but the journey; it’s not the outcome that matters most, but how we attend to the travelling.
Edward Monkton’s cartoon, The Zen Dog illustrates this. Which may be why much of the Biblical literature, and almost all of the gospel story, is couched in terms of journey: the journey through the wilderness shapes and forms the ancient people of Israel; the birth of Jesus occurs in the context of journey; the story of Jesus’ ministry is told in the context of journey – through Galilee, into Judea and on to Jerusalem. The journey is a metaphor for life, and we are invited to immerse ourselves in it!
I suspect that we have become too task-oriented, too outcome-focussed for our own good. We may joke about the children in the back seat with their constant ‘Are we there yet?’, but we are just like them – or more precisely, they are just like us. Our preoccupation with destinations, targets and results is a function of our insecurity, our fear, our need to control/determine/assure our future. Whatever happened to our faith and trust in God, our dependence upon God, our assurance and reassurance in God’s grace and providence?
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, you will find me, says the LORD. [Jer 29:11-14a]
God invites us to view life, live life and experience life as a journey – to savour every moment, to seek the awareness of God in every second of every minute, to be open to what God is going to teach us, reveal to us, offer us in every experience along the way. We are invited to cultivate a real awareness of the world around us: to see – really see – the birds and the flowers and the people we pass; to listen – really listen – to the sounds of creation, the sounds of people, the whispers of the soul; to be really present to every moment.
Because the journey really is more important, more formative, more instructive than the destination!