Today’s Readings: Numbers 9; Psalm 45; Song of Solomon 7; Hebrews 7
I’m writing tonight from our car. We are on a very long journey with our three children in the back of the van on our way home from Omaha, NE. We went to Omaha to baptize our youngest. Our surprise baby knitted within me by His hand and revealed to us like a flash of heat lightning on a summer evening. For our family, a baptism is a ritual that is sacred. One that represents our commitment to our faith in Jesus Christ and our intention to plant the seeds of a life with Him in our children. The church we return to in Omaha is a home for my husband and I. Although my faith tradition is evolving and changing in a way that puts Jesus at the center, I find that this particular ritual is deeply rooted within me. I wish that I could say that I have my faith journey all figured out. I envy those that are unshakable in their knowledge of scripture and convictions on all things biblical. Instead, I’m the middle school phase of my spiritual growth. I’ve got zits, a bad haircut and I’m just trying to sort out who I am and where I fit in.
Today’s first reading is from Numbers 9. I wish I had wireless in the car so I could look up why they call this book Numbers. Anyway, chapter 9 offers a beautiful description of the Lord commanding Moses and the Israelites to keep Passover. The instructions are as usual in the Old Testament, very prescriptive:
“In the second month on the fourteenth day at twilight they shall keep it. They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They shall leave not of it until the morning, nor break any of its bones; according to all the statute for the Passover they shall keep it. “ (Numbers 9:11)
It goes on to say that the man that is not traveling and is considered clean or as I would say “eligible” for Passover, if that man does not keep Passover he shall be cut off from the rest of the group. So, what I hear in this passage is God telling us, “hey guys, you need to take time out of your big old busy job, social media, soccer practice, PTA meeting lives to honor me.” I hear and feel the Holy Spirit in my life inviting me to stop and raise my eyes to be in His presence. The next part of Numbers 9 is probably my favorite. We see the Israelites build a tabernacle and then a cloud covers that tent of the testimony. By day the cloud is there and by night it is replaced with fire. When the cloud lifted the people of Israel knew to set out and when it stopped they made camp again beneath it. They went on like that, allowing the Holy Spirit to be their guide. The most beautiful part of the chapter comes at the end:
“Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time, that the cloud continued over the tabernacle, abiding there, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not set out, but when it lifted they set out. At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out. They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses.” (Numbers 9:22-23)
For the people of Israel, it was enough to just follow the cloud and remain in their tent under the flame. If I look for my clouds and fire will I find them? When I stepped into Sacred Heart church this morning I was safely under the cloud. I laid a foundation there ten years ago and now my house stands tall. I planted a seed of obedience and commitment to Jesus there, in that place. Today, my fellow Israelites welcomed me back into their Omaha tent. They celebrated the wonder of this beautiful new life with us. All along I’ve been struggling to reconcile my transition from the Catholic tent to a more Christ centered Christian tent. I’ve spent a few years trying to clear up my spiritual acne and get a better biblical look. I anticipated a real feeling of dichotomy, a feeling of separation and the discomfort of being non-commital. What I experienced was grace. The power of the Holy Spirit is here and surprisingly it was also there. I’ve spent so much time worrying about my role in my spiritual maturation but Moses gave me a little nudge today. I got to celebrate a Passover, a ritual, a sign of obedience to our Heavenly Father. It wasn’t a drudgery. I didn’t check my watch to see when it would be over. It sounds like the Israelites didn’t either. They “abide-ed”, they were content to rest in the promise of guidance and protection. Are we too busy to abide? Can I trust the Lord enough to guide me on his time with the rest of my Israelites? Lord, give us patient hearts and minds this week. Help us to hear and see you this week.