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Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

One of the great traditional themes of Lent is the desert. We remember the journey of our Lord into the wilderness on the first Sunday of lent. We connect the 40 days of Lent with the 40 days of the wilderness conversion. We read in Old Testament lessons on Sundays and in the Daily Office of the desert wanderings of our ancestors. At St. James we don the sackcloth ofthe Lenten array with its desert sand overtones. We shroud and simplify so that we can enter a place away. In the Biblical tradition the desert is a place of change and transformation;moreover, it is a place of deprivation. Into this spirit many of our ancestors in faith havejourneyed as they set out to the great monasteries of the Desert Fathers.

As we enter the great fast, let us begin our journey into the desert, let us look for theopportunity to be changed. The desert is a place where we are challenged, a place of danger,a place where we need to be attentive to ourselves and to all that goes on around us. I am notsaying that we should or can all take a plane west or to the eastern deserts. Instead, we needto enter the desert at our doorstep. We need to do so both individually and as communities offaith. So that having engaged the desert, we can emerge a people transformed.In the book The Coming of God, Maria Boulding reminds us of the importance of encountering the desert experience:

The desert in our lives is the place where in our poverty, our sin and need we come to know the lord…Our desert is any place we confront God. It is the place of truth, but also of tenderness; the place of loneliness but also of God’s closeness andcare. The journey is precarious, but God is faithful, Even though our fidelity is shaky. In the place ofhunger and poverty of spirit we are fed by the Word of God, as Jesus himself was in the desert.I invite you to go with Moses and the People of Israel, the Prophets and our Lord himself and enter the desert challenges of live so that you will come forth transformed and empowered.

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Arthur Pierce Powell


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