A minister had invited their favorite seminary professor to offer a presentation to the congregation on the life of Jesus. The professor spoke about several of the significant events in Jesus’ life, including his baptism at the Jordan River.

The professor proposed that the baptism served as a revelation of God’s presence in Jesus. But after a little back and forth between the professor and some members of the congregation on that point, another member – a long time member who rarely spoke but who everyone recognized as a person of deep faith – said this:

“I see something else.”

Intrigued, the professor asked, “So what do you see?”

“The story says that the heavens were opened, and the spirit of God came down”, the member said.

“Yes” the professor affirmed.

“Then what I see”, the member continued, “is that God’s Spirit was let loose in the world. And that is a dangerous thing.”

That member was so right. It is a dangerous thing for the spirit of God to be let loose in the world.

It’s dangerous because that Spirit, as it did Jesus, then sends us out into the wilderness to face the constant temptation to let our lives and the world be ruled by personal gain, misuse of power and privilege, and self-centeredness. It’s dangerous because it constantly challenges the accepted ways of culture and nation. It’s dangerous because its call to relationship, to love our neighbor – and our enemy – as ourselves, leaves us constantly vulnerable; constantly vulnerable to disappointment and discouragement; to headache and heartache.

But oh, the reward…Emotional and spiritual strength, wisdom and courage. Freedom of heart, mind and soul. Integrity – undivided completeness; wholeness.

The sacred season of Lent that we are now entering together is our call to once again follow Jesus on the road from baptism, to wilderness, to cross. And it is also our call to let God’s spirit loose in the world all along the way like he did.