Friday 24 October 2014

Are we there yet?

Still feeling like Moses this week.  I think there's lots of people who are.

Last week, I suggested that we all have that moment, like Moses, when we just really want to see God (Exodus 33:12-23).  Face-to-face.  And we can't.  But we can see where God has been, in creation, in our friends and family, in our experiences, in our lives.  I suggested, in part, that God's "presence" that goes with the Israelites into the Promised Land is what we might recognize as God, present all along as the spirit, the energy, the source, the power, the life - whatever you wish to call it - that is in, and connects, all creation.  It breaks down the barriers we build between us, shares our grief as readily as our joy, and binds us to each other and to all of creation.

Now, the wandering Israelites have come to the Promised Land.  And Moses, standing on the mountain, is shown the new land by God, the land he will not be able to enter.  Moses' time is done and, though "his sight was unimpaired and his vigour had not abated" (Ex. 34:7), he dies and it's Joshua that leads the Israelites on.

Moses got to see the promise, the land even, the land "flowing with milk and honey," but not experience it.  And this is my Moses Moment this week.

I think what he saw in this moment was promise.  Promise not yet fulfilled.  How things went forward from here (Moses returns to God and the Israelites move forward into the land) is something else.  I wonder if many people aren't still seeking "the promised land" in their lives.

Martin Luther King spoke for a generation and a people when he spoke like Moses.  The thought, if not the exact words, has been expressed by many famous, visionary, prophetic people.  But I don't think you have to be great to have an "I've seen the promised land" moment.

This past week I was feeling like Moses.  October 26 is Peace Sunday on our church calendar.  I don't know where to begin with what's been happening in the world this week.  Ottawa.  Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.  Iraq and pretty much anywhere in the Middles East.  Ukraine.  Africa.  Korea.  There's more.  Peace seems like a far off land.  A Promised Land.

And we've seen it.  A moment here and there, fleeting, to be sure, but we've seen it.  We may even have experienced it.  Not because there's been no war or conflict.  Peace isn't about the absence of anything, peace is about presence: the presence of love.

When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus said love God and love your neighbour as you love yourself.  That fundamental relationship of love brings peace.  We've seen it.  When we show love instead of hate, love instead of fear, love instead of selfishness.  When we do justice, offer grace, show compassion, we are living love.  These are steps to the promised land of peace.

Sometimes it feels like we're taking two steps back for every step forward.  Like Moses, it often feels like we've seen it, but we just can't reach it.  But the journey is our life and living our lives to the fullest means living into love.  And, challenging as that is, we go on that journey with the presence of God.