Kindred in Christ,

After taking a couple weeks off to enjoy time with family and our new corgi puppy, Tato, I am excited to be back with you! I am also excited to begin our new worship series, Lessons from the Wilderness. As people we often find ourselves in “wilderness” spaces throughout our lives. This usually looks like when we have lost a grounding (such as a job, relationship, church building, routine etc.) and before we have replaced it with another one. These transitional spaces can be scary at first, but they are also sacred and often bring us into new realities with God. Brené Brown writes in her book, Braving the Wilderness, “The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.”

Throughout the biblical witness, we see that God shows up in the wilderness and that God’s people often learn special lessons that could only be found in these uncharted spaces. This week we will kick off our series by reflecting on the story of Elijah, and a time that he found himself in the wilderness (both literally and figuratively). As a mighty prophet, Elijah was used to success in ministry and life. However, in the passage this week (1 Kings 19:1-18) he finds himself alone and has given up. Yet as reflected in the He Qi’s painting above, Elijah eventually learns the spiritual practice of receiving well. As he receives the gift of bread and water in the middle of the wilderness, he learns that what was true all along—everything we have is a gift from the earth, from our communities, and from God. He also learns that he is part of a much bigger story, one not limited to his own strengths and vision. This is a hard spiritual lesson, but an essential and liberating one for our lives of faith.

Join us as we reflect deeper on what it means to be a people that know how to receive well as we journey the wilderness together as a community. I hope to see you on Facebook Live!

– Rev. Paul Ortiz