Lent 2021: Wilderness Experiences by Dana Williams
Updated: Feb 19
"He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry."
February 18, 2021
The tradition of fasting during the Lenten season is inspired by Jesus's time in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights. There is some variation in the telling of this time in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). In Mark, Jesus is tested by Satan during this time. Wild animals are his companions, and he is attended to by angels. But there is no mention of his fasting. In Matthew, Jesus prepares for Satan's test by fasting for 40 days and nights before Satan's test. And this leaves him vulnerable to the devil's temptation, the first of which is to make bread from stones. In Luke, the devil tests Jesus for 40 days and nights, and Jesus fasts during these days. The one shared experience in all three gospel texts is this: the Spirit drives Jesus to the wilderness, and Jesus emerges from the wilderness filled with the Spirit.
Like Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we may each have a different perspective about what suits us best during the 40 days of Lent. Some will fast from certain foods; some will embrace sacrificial acts that, through an absence, encourage attention to Jesus's sacrifice; and some may add a spiritual activity that removes any imagined distance between God and God's creation.
Whatever approach you take to Lent this year, embrace the gift of the Spirit, even as it pushes you into the wild, into unfamiliar territory. And trust that you will emerge filled by God's spirit and ready to do the work of kingdom building on earth, as it is in heaven.
Prayer: God, thank you for preparation and for wilderness experiences, for the angels that encamp around us, and for the gift of the Spirit that readies us all for co-creation with you.
Sister Dana Williams
Bethel 21 Historical Society
The members and friends of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church
have written their devotions and reflections on the impact of the season of Lent
in their lives. Each testimony in the booklet is a personal reflection of the
We welcome you on this journey with us as we discuss our sacrifices and hope
that some aspect of the scripture, reflections, or prayers will inspire you as you
experience the season.
Read along with us each day or download the book to read along with us offline. May God bless and keep you throughout this season of reflection.