One after another, the orchestra members come from off stage to their assigned seats or places at the rear of the orchestra – violins, cello’s, trombones, tubas, clarinets, timpani, and others. Once seated, they begin to play their instrument, blowing or strumming, making their instrument give its characteristic sound. The sound is chaotic. There is no melody or harmony. Only randomness.
Then the oboist comes to the stage, while standing s/he blows an A note. Clearly. Accurately. Then all of the instruments elicit that note from their respective instrument. What was once chaotic is now harmonious. One sound. All now on key and ready to play the concert’s selection. The oboist blowing an A resembles so many other things.
Lent is a sort of A note. The world around us sounds like the orchestra, before the blown A note, almost cacophonous and absent any harmony. Each member is at first tuning and producing sound without regard to anyone around them. Lent takes us into the wilderness where there is no distracting sound. It’s like the moment when the Oboist stands, and everyone else stops to listen for the A.
The A note is pure and on key. It is like the person from Weights and Measures who compares the meat market’s scales to a perfect weight. Or like any other inspection of products to make sure they deliver what they claim. Lent asks the question, does your life measure up to your claims or is your thumb on the scale?”
There are a thousand ways, metaphorically speaking, that we can become overwhelmed by the noise and distractions of our world. Social media, television, work, even family, can push God out of one’s consciousness. So how do we return to the calm and focus of the wilderness? Christian discipline is the only way. What Jesus said to the tempter is a model for such discipline. Avoid gluttony and materialism. Quit seeking for sensationalism and human attention. Don’t allow greed for power to distract you from the humility of the Christian way.
The disciple of Jesus should seek the same harmony that Jesus had with the Father in the wilderness. It was the clear A note sounded by a harmony with God’s purposes rather than our own interests and attentions.
God of the Wilderness, please be with us as we follow you into the solitude and loneliness of dwelling in your companionship. As we shut out the noises and sensation of those who want us to follow their way, adopt their values, and live selfishly as they do. Give us hearts fixed on you alone. In Jesus’ name. Amen.