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Entering a wilderness time
pastor corner

Pastor Devin Strong, Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church

When you hear the word “wilderness,” what comes to mind? Lots of us probably recall trees and forests from our own camping trips with Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts.

Perhaps we think of relaxation and fresh air or hard work and cooking our own meals. Those of us who grew up going to church camp may recall outdoor worship services and marvelous experiences of Christian community.

In the church we have just entered a wilderness time.

It is the season of Lent, that journey of 40 days—excluding Sundays—between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Of course, in the Bible the “wilderness” is anything but verdant forests and tall grasses. Both the Old and New Testaments were written in harsh desert climates, so wilderness is anyplace away from the city center, the safety of community, protection from the sun, and the proximity of a reliable source of water. In the scriptures wilderness is a place of solitude and potential danger. 

At the same time, wilderness is also some distance from the corrupting influences of the corridors of power.

John the Baptist preached in the wilderness, precisely to get away from the excesses of Jerusalem. Just as it is for us, the wilderness has always been a place to get closer to God.

The 40 years that the Israelites spent “wandering in the wilderness” were also a time of learning and spiritual formation for God’s people. Out of necessity, they grew to rely on God like never before.

It seems that we are in a wilderness time, not just in the church but in the culture as a whole. A great deal has been written about the political and cultural divisions between us. Each of us has retreated to our favored corners for news and social media. We throw shade at one another from the comfort of a like-minded community.

In recent days Russia has invaded Ukraine, and blood has begun to spill. Politicians are scrambling to keep up with public opinion and figure out who is to blame.

If that is not dangerous enough, many of us are facing our own wilderness experiences as gas and food prices continue to rise and our paychecks do not stretch to meet them. We have health challenges, family conflicts, and an ever-changing community.

You and I are at risk of facing a barren sand and deep thirst.

How do we meet the Almighty in this wilderness?

How can you and I use this difficult season to be spiritually fed rather than just going hungry? The first step is to open our eyes and realize where we are. As a society, we are not in an ordinary place of routine. We are in the midst of a risky and dry landscape. We will not survive the wilderness by going off by ourselves. We need to pool resources, help each other, and gather in the broadest possible community for our very survival.

These are the topics that we will explore at Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church on Wednesdays throughout the season of Lent. Join us March 9, 16, 23, 30, and April 6. A free dinner is served each week at 6 PM followed by an informal worship service at 6:30 as we wrestle together with the theme In the Wilderness. 

Go to for more information. All are welcome! Together, we can find a way out.

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