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Wandering In The Desert, Part 1

Learning to read the Bible in the present is the key to the prophetic faith.  All of us gathered here today stand at Sinai…Fleeing into the desert from Pharaoh, the escaped slaves covenanted to become a free people by living in a way that established justice as a communion that the moralities of slaves and pharaohs can neither know nor suspect.—Jim Corbett, Goatwalking

The forty days of Lent commemorate, among other things, the forty years that Moses and the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness between their escape from Egypt and their coming to the Promised Land.  That journey happened a long time ago, but I believe it is still relevant to our lives today.

We still live in a culture that oppresses many people, provides luxuries for a few, and worships false gods. We are still called to leave behind the injustices and the comforts of this culture’s way of life, to follow God’s call into unknown territory, and to live according to a new law and covenant under which we will be neither oppressors nor oppressed.

This journey is wonderful, for it responds to God’s call and leads us into freedom.  It is also very difficult, because we have to let go of our old securities, assumptions, and grudges and learn a new way of working, worshiping, and living.

Today there is no geographical promised land to which we can all go together.  Some of us may have to move to places or communities that make an alternative way of living easier; others will have to learn to live according to the new covenant in the places where we are, surrounded by the reminders of our old way of life.  Today there is no difference of race or religion that sets us and our fellow travelers apart from the wider society.  We are bound only by our shared commitment to faithfulness, justice, and freedom.  It may take us a long time to recognize one another; however, if we remain both faithful and open-minded, people who initially seemed opposed to our journey may join us.

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