Torah                 1 Samuel 16:1–13

Writing              Psalm 90

Prophet               Joel 2:1a, 12–16

Gospel                Mark 1:14–15

From the earliest days, the season of Lent has begun with a reading of the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, as this story attempts to give a biblical context for the season of Lent. Yet the parallel is somewhat false: the biblical reference is undoubtedly not to a literal 40 days, nor is Lent exactly 40 days. Beyond that we are not beginning our ministry, as Jesus was, nor are we facing the realities that Jesus was facing.

Furthermore, however, the reading of that story grounds the season ever more fully in fall/redemption theology and the sense of temptation to sin and the need to be rescued from that. Accordingly it seems important to move away from that tradition, and instead to begin the season with Jesus’ call to repentance.

In so doing, it pays to remember that the biblical meaning of “repent” is to “turn around.” We turn away from sin, yes, but even more importantly we turn – or return – to God. Rather than journey into the wilderness, we journey from it in the via negativa. We recognize that we are there, that the wilderness, the darkness, is a part of our life already. Not to be feared, nor to be avoided, but to be recognized, and journeyed through. When we repent, we return from exile to our true home, which is in God.

As we repent and start again, we read the story of Samuel moving through his own time of via negativa to anoint young David as the future ruler. A lament psalm, and the traditional Lenten reading from the prophet Joel (usually read at Ash Wednesday) round out the readings for this first Sunday.

© Donald Schmidt “Taken from Emerging Word: a Creational Spirituality Lectionary by Donald Schmidt. Copies are available from him.”

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