by Bob Wickizer

Rev. Bob Wickizer
Deuteronomy 26:5-11; Psalm 91:9-15; Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13

Fast food, 24x7, instant messaging, email, overnight delivery, global access, lunch in ten or it's free, Gigahertz PCs, zero to sixty in six seconds, e-business, just in time delivery, even church services that finish in one hour or less all form the cultural backdrop for how we approach the season of taking stock of our lives and making penance for what we find. How are we ever going to stop and hear the still, small and slow voice of God in the midst of pounding, frenetic lives?

Even though we think of previous generations having less busy, less stressful lives, that notion is only wishful thinking. The defining characteristic of a new generation is that it involves a more hectic pace and a more stressful life than the previous one. Every generation from the year 2000 BC to the present has endured their own unique forms of stress and alienation, both tending to isolate us from God.

In the third and fourth centuries, some members of various Christian monastic communities discerned their calling away from the rigors of monastic life. They found that monastic life in a community setting was too easy and they felt called to get completely away from the influences of the civilized world. Many found their way to the Syrian or Egyptian desserts where they would spend as much as ten years or more living in a very small area on top of a natural rock tower 20-50 feet high. These colorful monks were referred to as the "pillar saints" and were considered in their time to be the holiest persons alive. Kings would come to the desert to seek their counsel. Their food and water was hauled up to them by rope from the desert floor. For people of many religious beliefs, the desert experience purifies the soul bringing our human nature as close to God as possible, just like Jesus did before beginning his ministry.

One key difference between these pillar saints and Jesus in the d ...

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