Lent 2013: Fourth Sunday

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Isaiah had just prophesied that the captivity would be in Babylon. The passage from Babylon back to Canaan was possible only by crossing what was a virtually impassable desert. These verses seek to remedy the exiles’ fears about the difficulties of the journey home. The God who had long ago supplied all the needs of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai, would work even greater miracles now. Water is often used in the Scriptures as a symbol of the provision of divine mercy.

On this journey, when the Israelites anticipated being weary, faint and thirsty,the provision of water in the form of rivers, fountains, pools and springs as well astrees with far-reaching boughs and thick foliage providing a grateful shade wouldmake the journey seem like travelling through a pleasant, leafy glade. I was drawn to this passage of Scripture because I love nature, particularly trees. Trees are such a precious gift from God; they not only provide oxygen for us to breathe, but also food to eat, wood for construction, pulp for paper and shade for rest and recreation. Trees, in their great variety (there are over 10,000 species of trees), provide natural beauty for our eyes to behold. Many varieties of trees are cited in the Bible and they are seen as important to mankind. Their diversity is reminiscent of the body of Christ, each of us unique and serving a purpose, growing together, each of us worthy of God’s love. God yearns for relationship with all of us; He wants to care for us and provide for our every need. He simply wants…….us.

Lent offers us all a very special opportunity to grow in our relationship with God and to deepen our commitment to Him. This year Lent feels quite different to me. I think I finally get it! I realise that it is not simply about “giving up” something,

it is the knowledge that God wants to give us something. He wants to help us transform our lives and give us a sense of freedom and an awareness of how we live and love each other. Rather than this being a dreary, gloomy period of self-denial, let us move forward with joy and anticipation of the miracle to come!

- Bridie Cloherty