Posts Tagged ‘Moab’

Numbers 21Worn Out

Monday, February 25, 2019

Several years ago we focused on verses 4 through 9 of this chapter in a Noontime reflection about The Bronze Serpent and at that time we noted that this story is often read during the Lenten season when we are called to repent and make reparations.  We reflected on the thought that God in great wisdom and mystery sends a cure to the people that is similar to their disease; and we saw the Hebrews succumb to the temptation to complain when their patience is worn out by the journey.  Just as we travel toward Easter during Lent, and move Advent waiting for the light.  When we have so much invested in our waiting it is easy to give in to the kind of impatience we see today; and we know the feeling of despair that replaces hope when the expected outcome is so long in coming.  We zero in on our disappointment and forget to look at the many victories in our lives.

The episode of the bronze serpent is sandwiched between stories of victory over Arad, Moab, Sihon and Og.  God has accompanied the Hebrews and seen to their welfare; yet the travail of the journey has worn their patience thin and they turn against God.  Although they experience a series of triumphs, they complain about their food and drink.  They want to control the smallest details of their lives and rather than rest in the triumphs they have lived they obsess about the minutiae.  This is a story in which we can place ourselves.

Whether we find ourselves in Advent or Lent, or find ourselves in an ordinary time of extraordinary waiting, we can look at the Hebrews to see ourselves in their impatience; and we can make our own journey through the lands of Arad, Moab, Sihon and Og.   We can examine what motivates us, what leads us, what stops us.  And we can pray . . .

Do I too often steer clear from something when the cure lies in my willingness to enter God’s plan?

Am I too stiff-necked or too impatient?

Do I fear too much and trust too little?

Am I too controlling or too impatient?

Do I complain too much and give thanks too little?

Am I too unwilling or too impatient?

Do I take the victories for granted and throw temper tantrums when my own plans come up short?

Am I focused on self and not on God?

In the hardship of the journey it is easy to concentrate on our fears and wishes; it is difficult to keep our eyes on the prize.  So when we feel this impatience welling up, let us look to God for strength; let us ask God for the stamina we need to see the journey through.  Let us look at the many victories that line the pathways of our lives; and let us remember that when we rely on God rather than self . . . our patience will never wear through.

A re-post from December 3, 2011.

For more reflections on traveling the road of life, see the Journeys of Transformation page on this blog.

Images from: http://jewlistic.com/2010/06/ive-had-it-with-these-snakes-in-this-portion/ and http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx303.htm

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Pieter Lastman: Ruth Declares her Loyalty to Naomi

Pieter Lastman: Ruth Declares her Loyalty to Naomi

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ruth 1:19-22

Return to Bethlehem

A Reprise

The story of Ruth is a tale of fidelity, self-sacrifice, moral integrity, faith, and divine reward for piety.  The people we read about today are in Jesus’ family tree and as always, with God, the message is clear when we look and listen: If something is bound to happen, no one can intervene, and if something is not going to happen, no one can cause it to happen . . . except God.  God is in charge.

This story shows the proper covenant relationship between the Creator and the created. God is always present – yet in the background.  We who are made in God’s image are called to act as God does, with fidelity, compassion and persistence. We see God take action through people who respond to his call and in this way God’s actions are mediated by his people.

This story shows how tragedy can be transformed when we allow ourselves to serve as conduits for God’s love to a waiting world.  It also shows how God is actualized in the lives of the faithful.  Scholars point out that the story of Ruth is very much a story of Judges in reverse. She is a woman from a pagan nation whose people battled against Israel but Ruth forsakes her little gods of Moab to faithfully serve the Living God, Yahweh.  Matthew includes Ruth in Jesus’ genealogy to remind us that God’s ultimate plan is to include diverse nations in his family tree.  Ruth is in many ways what Israel was called to be. And she is also what we are called to be.  Faithful, trusting, persistent, loving, and always returning home.

Ruth and Naomi return to Bethlehem at the start of the barley harvest – a harvest that plays an important part in the story that is unfolding – and the town celebrates this return. Recalling that women without men were less valuable than animals in these ancient times, we can only be in awe of their courage in the face of tragedy, their obedience in the face of impossibility, and their trust in the face of overwhelming odds. Ruth and Naomi return to Bethlehem, and in so doing they return to God. As we pause in our Jeremiah journey, let us consider the value of this homecoming.

Adapted from a reflection written on August 14, 2007.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

forgivenessAmos 2


Moab, Judah, Israel. Oracles of condemnation not only of enemies . . . but of Israel herself. Atrocities during wartime, horrible scenes of brutality beyond understanding, humanitarian abuses, corruption in places that are meant to be havens.  All of these images are difficult to read and even more difficult to comprehend.

God says: You are far too eager to look for scapegoats and for places to place blame for the woes of the world.  What I really ask is that you put violence aside and deal with one another lovingly, even as enemies.  What good comes from harboring anger?  What fruit is born from bitter seed sown in despair?  What peace to do you find by dragging your worries along with you each day. It is no wonder that the night brings you no rest.  Spend time with me.  Speak to me frankly, openly and honestly.  Tell me what is bothering you.  Tell me what stirs you.  Tell me when you are ready to surrender to me.  I wait – for an eternity – with forgiving, open, strong and loving arms.

Even the smallest gesture of goodness is a light in the darkness.  God pulls good out of all harm.  We must be patient enough to see it, humble enough to feel it, and bold enough to share our stories of conversion with those who still live in the shadows.  As we begin our Lenten journey, let us decide to move away from condemnation and toward mercy and kindness.

Tomorrow, First Word.

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