Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Advent, Moses, and Pillars

Many times we avoid the Old Testament. What with the begets, the counting of the tribes of Israel, the pain, the seemingly angry and destructive ways of God; many of us just choose not to read it. When we read it in light of the New Testament and the Creed we find some amazing lessons that are just as applicable today as they were more than 2000 years ago. During the season of Advent it's important that we remember many of these very lessons as we await the coming of Christ in His Parousai.

When God called the Egyptians out of slavery in Egypt into the desert, many of them were scared. In fact, many of them quickly fell away forgetting what God had just done. He parted the red sea and immediately after they sang praise to Him. Just a short few days later they were building new gods in the shape of golden cows and having big parties to worship them. These were the same people that witnessed God's plagues on the Egyptians and their 'gods'.

Then God led them to the promised land. Think about that for just a moment. God took them straight to the land He had promised to their people, and they were scared to go in. These are the same people who have seen Egypt put to shame, the very sea itself part at His command, and heard the very voice of God calling from the mountains in lightning and thunder! So they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness. We call it wandering. In fact, they were following God. He 'led' them through the wilderness. He made them follow Him to teach them to trust in the Lord their God.

Exodus 13:21 -By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.

How does this apply to us? We as Christians are also on a journey to the promised land. Jesus said as He ascended that He was going to prepare a place for us, He promised us a land! Some of us are in our own self imposed deserts as well. We have the opportunity to experience the promised land in a special way right here on Earth. We even pray that God's will be done here, as it is in Heaven. Many of us see God's promise to be with us as only a future event, but our faith teaches us that God is with us always. He is our pillar of fire, leading us through the desert of the world. God calls us HIS temple. If God is in our hearts, aren't we already in Heaven in a way?

I know, I know! Heaven is a real place and it is a place we will go to later. But we can live with our hearts IN Heaven! Especially when we acknowledge the presence of God in our lives! In the young man who helps the lady across the street. In the poor child who gives up his only toy, for his friend. In the man across the street who is asking for a cup of coffee. In the random stranger who walks up and says exactly what you needed to hear, at the very moment you needed to hear it.  In worship! In communion with God! In the Eucharist!

How many of us are right on the edge of the promised land, looking in and turning back only to wander in the desert of the world? Do we have the faith it takes to stand up against the giants of THIS land, and declare it God's? Or do we simply go on in life longing for Heaven, forgetting that this very morning we prayed 'Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven?"

In Christ,