Wilderness: risking hope in the wild places

Posted by Victoria Mason on March 30, 2023

Lent Series

Throughout this Lent we’ve explored the Difference course’s sessions in a five-part series themed, ‘Wilderness’. We looked at God’s call, Crossing Divides, Navigating Disagreement, Practising Forgiveness, and in the final part, Victoria Mason, explores ‘Risking Hope’ – what hope looks like when challenges remain unresolved.

This Lent we have been privileged to walk with people who are wrestling with the meaning of peacemaking and justice in diverse and challenging contexts. Rev Megan Powell du Toit and Rev Dr Michael Jensen (4min film) described building a friendship and working partnership in the knowledge that deep disagreements would remain. US peacemaker, Jer Swigart, shared about his experience of fostering connection across huge political, cultural and social divides. South African journalist, Lukhanyo Calata (6min film), told his story of seeking justice for his father who had been killed – and asked what forgiveness means in that situation.

Each of these people are taking the risk of walking a wild and rocky path to pursue relationships and societies filled with God’s peace, renewal and justice. Their stories speak to the cost involved in journeying with pain, complexity and unanswered questions.

But in each of these stories we have also seen glimmers of hope. I wonder which of the following speaks most to you:

“And yet, as I turn my eyes to Jesus in this time of Lent, I am reminded that God has consistently and persistently chosen to suffer this grief, again and again. For it is the cost of love and the companion of hope. My faith calls me to what seems unreasonable hope. Or is it unreasonable?”

Rev Megan Powell du Toit

“It is also the case that the Christian hope ought to make disagreement, even where the issues are deeply personal and complex, not terminal. It is possible to have my firm convictions about Scripture and still say ‘as far as I know’. What I do now is that we now ‘see through a glass darkly’ – but one day we will see face to face.”

Rev Dr Michael Jensen

“We began to recognize that what we shared in common far outweighed our differences. As the miles grew, so too did the reach of my empathy…Three years later, our friendship continues to deepen and it’s transforming me.”

Dr Jer Swigart

“It’s important for me that I fight for justice for [my father’s] life…There is some progress that we are making in trying to secure my father and his comrades justice.”

Lukhanyo Calata

Throughout Lent we have reflected on the Israelites’ forty years in the desert and Jesus forty days in the wilderness. We know that, even beyond Easter, parts of our journey will still be wild, difficult or challenging. The resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday doesn’t erase the wounds inflicted on Good Friday. Instead, Christ – with the marks in his hands and side – proclaims that He is with us always and that the forces of violence and death do not have the last word. We continue to journey through our wildernesses, accompanied by God who chose to go there too.

Victoria Mason is Editorial Manager and Theological Lead for the Difference team.

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