February 21, 2021: So – What Comes Next?

First Sunday in Lent

Where Do We Go from Here? is the title of the final book written by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Even after all of Dr. King’s accomplishments in his work for justice, he realized that there was still work to do.

We are happy when we achieve certain goals: a better job, graduation from high school or college, receiving the love of a certain woman or man, winning an award, the birth of a child—and the list goes on. But in most cases, we recognize the event or accomplishment not as the final goal, but as a step toward what the future holds.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus has been baptized, and has been affirmed by God as God’s beloved Son. This must have been an awesome moment for Jesus! But beyond that affirmation, Jesus knew he had earth-changing work to do. The possibilities must have seemed endless. So when the Spirit sent him out to the wilderness, Jesus was able to discern which of these possibilities affirmed God’s will, and which did not. After his forty-day wilderness experience, Jesus began his earthly mission, which was to proclaim God’s kingdom and call God’s people to repent.

When we have to make those big, important decisions in our own lives, it is important to choose the course of action that affirms God’s kingdom, and shows the presence of that kingdom in our own lives. This is a huge challenge in today’s world, and it will not be easy. But when we are faced with the question, “What comes next?” we are assured that Jesus has walked this way before us, and will continue to walk by our side.

Willie Israel, retired pastor
Asheville, North Carolina