Lent has begun. When last we saw Jesus he was in the wilderness fending off temptation. So, what are the disciples doing? What are they up to? For that matter, what are we up to?

The Bible doesn’t really go into the personal lives of the twelve we’ve come to know as Jesus’ disciples. We do know that they were Jewish, members of their community, family men with wives and children at home depending on them. Some made their living as fishermen; Matthew collected taxes, which made him about as popular as an Internal Revenue Service agent is today. Later on, as they met and decided to follow Jesus in his ministry, they shifted their lives to accommodate this extraordinary choice.

It is because of that one choice that we know them now. And it is because of that one choice that we know ourselves as disciples of Jesus.

Take this minimal snapshot of life in the Middle East in the first century, add in the human yearning we all feel to enjoy life, make connections with other people and care for our loved ones. Although daily life was vastly different, lacking our modern conveniences and comforts, in its way it included many of the same, simple rituals we encounter: waking up each day; preparing and sharing meals together; going out into the world to make a living; spending time with friends and family at worship and holiday celebrations. Each night they watched the sunset, the moon rise and retired to their beds to rest.

Now add in another dream common to all humanity, that of hope for something more, something beyond what we see in front of us each day. What did these future followers of Jesus dream of in those weeks before meeting him? How was God moving among them, stirring their hearts to be open to Jesus’ words and ideas? Did they sit outside on their doorsteps, after their families had already fallen asleep, searching the night sky for answers to age old questions? Had they all but given up on believing that the Messiah would ever come and deliver them and all Jewish people from the never ending tyranny? Did they allow themselves to dream of freedom? And if they did, what did freedom look like? And if they allowed themselves these hopes, how did they get up again the next morning to face the day?

Somewhere in their everyday living and everyday faith, each of the disciples found what they needed to put the next phase of their lives in motion without even realizing what they were doing. They didn’t know that Jesus was preparing himself for the three years of public ministry that were about to emerge. Other rabbis had attracted followers, but their names are not remembered or lived by as is the name of Jesus. These faithful followers of Jesus would not necessarily have seen themselves as followers of anyone, let alone a renegade rabbi drawing the attention of thousands and the ire of Rome.

But somehow, in some way, God moved among them, through them and around them, making them ready to make a choice that would affect the rest of their lives, a choice that would also affect the rest of our lives.

It is very easy for us to set these fellows apart from us, bringing ourselves to believe they had inside information or even no choice about their roles in Jesus’ work. Setting them apart means setting ourselves at a distance, making it easier to believe that we are not up to their level of character or value as followers of Jesus or as servants of God. It is easy, isn’t it?

But it is also a modern convenience, a comfort we frequently lean on to create a distance between what we believe and how we act. Yet we find ourselves in the same position as Jesus’ disciples, a place of preparation for literally God only knows what, but it is we who share the privileged point of knowing who and what Jesus was about. We hold the advantage, almost all the cards. The disciples didn’t know Jesus was coming into their lives, were not aware of the hopes and dreams that would be fulfilled by his presence and had no idea how much their own lives would change in almost the blink of an eye. Perhaps the not knowing played in their favor.

Either way, God is moving among us, through us, and with us to bring about the fulfillment of hopes and dreams of which we may not even be aware yet. God is working among us, through us and with us to change the world during this preparatory time of Lent. It is our job, as it was the job of the disciples, to dream boldly, pay attention for the whispers and wonders of God’s spirit and be ready to make our decision when the time comes.

Author's Bio: 

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay with a double major in Communication and the Arts and Social Change and Development and a minor in Women's Studies, was ordained into the ministry of the Moravian Church in North America after completing her Master of Divinity degree studies through Moravian Theological Seminary. Over twenty-five years of experience in individual and community ministries gives Rev. Kemp an informed perception about faith, its implications and struggles in everyday life. Rev. Kemp focuses her work on helping people understand their faith and how faith can become transformational in their lives. Challenge your faith - visit http://www.creatingwomenministries.com.