Alone Together: Lent 1

Posted Fri, 02/26/2021 - 10:16 by Katharine

In the first blog of the series for Lent 1 Campus Leadership Manager Katharine Crew reflects on the isolation experienced by those who have been excluded, and how Christian communities are finding new ways to create inclusive communities.

You can watch the video blog YouTube or read the reflection below:

Mark 9:12 tells us ‘And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.’

In Lent Christians remember one of the many times that Jesus was alone. Throughout the gospels there are several references to Jesus seeking out some solitude to pray and be away from the crowds who followed him. Sometimes he would send the disciples ahead of him with plans to meet later, other times he would take a few of his closest disciples with him and remain a short distance from them. But this time Jesus’ solitude takes place before he has formed this close group of disciples.

Some of the ways Christians might choose to observe Lent are used to share something of Jesus’ experience in the wilderness, perhaps by giving something up. But over this last year we have been forced to share much more in this experience of being separated. For some, this might be similar to Jesus’ later times of being alone: we might have a network of people who we know are there for us, perhaps a Christian community who are finding inventive new ways to be alone together.

But for some, this time of lockdown might be more similar to Jesus’ time in the wilderness without the comfort of knowing a close group of disciples was there for him. At CCJ I work with university students and it has been a particularly difficult time for first year students starting university without the conventional means to join a community.

In our project on faith and identity I’m hearing from students about their experiences of being excluded from their faith communities for their sexuality, race, ability, or any other part of their identity. These accounts are deeply troubling- especially as it means that people in need of support for the trauma and/ or discrimination they have experienced are precisely those who entered into this lockdown without a supportive community.

But in this past year, as we’ve learnt what it means to be Alone Together, I’ve also seen ways that people are finding new communities. From people traditionally excluded from churches by their access needs now able to play a central role in services, to people being able to access inclusive Christian groups online which they would not be able to join in person.

In Lent Christians often talk about Jesus being alone in the wilderness. But as we read in this passage this wasn’t the case. The Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness and remained with him. It’s not something Jesus could physically see or touch, but the Spirit was there. Likewise our Christian communities can share that work of the Spirit: even though we cannot physically be together, we can work to ensure that nobody is truly alone at this time.