by Laurie Gudim
“Here is the Lamb of God,” says John the Baptist in today’s reading. And we are brought back to the basics of our faith. That’s a good place to be at the beginning of the season of Lent, that time we have measured out for shedding the extraneous and returning, open and penitent, to the most important relationship in our lives.
In Lent we come out to the banks of the Jordan. We are looking for something that we could not find in the city. Our souls are full of a powerful yearning – for our birthright – for our place – for ourselves.
Perhaps we have been out here before. Maybe we have repented already, already turned around in our thinking and placed our lives in the hands of the Mysterious Creator who loves us. Maybe we have gazed at the wide expanse of desert beyond this edgy river and seen the reflection of ourselves.
But idolatry is a constant temptation. Putting status, power, money, acceptance and all the other things we think we need in place of God in our hearts happens insidiously, imperceptibly, but grows over time until we are completely turned around and disoriented. So here we are again, blindly answering the deeper longing. With all our hearts we reach for an acknowledged connection between ourselves and our God.
This is the place for taking or renewing our vows – the promises we make at baptism. This is the juncture where we choose to take on the yoke of discipleship – again and for the first time. And here on the banks of that river that marks the boundary between the world of human priorities and the Way of God, here is where the Forerunner points to the one who is to come after him, the one who opens his admonition to repent into new dimensions, like the unfurling of a huge, luscious flower. Here is where we meet the Lamb of God.
Behold the Lamb of God. This is an invitation to contemplation. In the stories we hear in scripture, in the silence of our prayer time, in our studies and in our interactions with one another, we seek to behold Jesus.
Who is this Son of God who takes away the sin of the world? Who is this God-Man to whom John points, here where we stand together at the edge of the world? The season of Lent presents us with our opportunity to take the time to face that question and explore it, once again for today. This is our chance to slow down, to fast from other concerns, and to see.
The most important thing we will ever do is to speak for Christ about Christ – out of Christ. Here is the Lamb of God. In this Holy Lent, let’s set all else aside and hang out on the banks of the Jordan with him.
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.