Pastor’s Column for October 2020 Epistle
Dear Friends in Christ,
It seems only appropriate that our Old Testament readings the end of September through October (every Sunday but Reformation Sunday) report the Israelites time in the Wilderness. They are free from the Egyptians, but they have not yet arrived in the Promised Land. Once they reach Mount Sinai, they will start receiving instructions about how to live together in community. It is actually the time before Sinai that I find even more informative for our current circumstances because they wonder where God is. In Exodus 17, Moses ends up naming the “place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’” (17:7). We are in a middle space and time right now, occasionally wondering if the Lord is among us. Many of the rituals, totems, traditions where we have experienced the Lord have been taken away or altered. And yet, in my conversations with you, in cards and email and texts I receive, in stories I hear second-hand, I know that you and I are learning to recognize God in our midst. It is as if one of our five senses has been taken away and the other four are elevated. (One of the most unique Bible Studies written by the camp director I worked for during my college summers was about Scripture and the Five Senses). Maybe we did not always see God in clear, blue skies, but now we do (I am writing this on Sept. 21-FYI). Maybe we did not always notice God in the friend who took time to call or visit in person. Maybe we never heard the love of God revealed in that particular passage of scripture, but we do now. Maybe we never paid attention to this particular movement or individual or organization, but now the Holy Spirit seems so apparent in whatever it is they are doing. Maybe wild blackberries never before made us think of the sweetness of Jesus, but they did this summer. I hope you journal or write a letter or send a text to share how you are seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, even tasting God at work in your midst. As I said, part of the wilderness journey for the Israelites and us is learning how to live together as God’s people. We need one another’s stories and epiphanies now more than ever, to give us life and hope and nourishment. Yes indeed, the Lord is among us!