“He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.” – Mark 1:12-13
The Rev. Jed Mannis sets up a communion table on the Cambridge Common every Sunday and leads the homeless members of the Outdoor Church in worship. The kids of my former congregation used to make sandwiches for them. We’d consecrate them at our own table before lugging them to the Common in baskets. On one of the rare days I roused myself to go with them, Jed asked me to read scripture—the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.
I’d never heard it before. Not like that, anyway. Not in situ. Not in a bitter wind. Not with a small wooden cross falling over and crashing to the frozen ground. Not in the company of people who live in a wilderness of indifference and violence all the time.
I read the story of Jesus’ struggle with Satan while heads around me nodded knowingly. When I said that Jesus was with the wild beasts all that time, two of the men exchanged glances. Yes, they knew about that too. When we came to the angels waiting on the exhausted Lord, one of them interrupted and said to Jed, “You are my angel.”
Jed told me that earlier, at the service in Porter Square, when he’d read the line about Jesus preaching that “the time of salvation is now,” a woman had wailed, “Now? Now? What does that mean, now?”
As I said, I’d never heard that story before. Have you?
Situate us to read your story, Jesus. Place us where we need to be to hear it for the first time.
Mary Luti is Interim Senior Pastor, Wellesley Village Church, Wellesley, Massachusetts.