February 26, 2013

Lenten Journey: Exodus

And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. 
- Luke 9:30-31

For Reflection...

We talked last week about Jesus as the Jewish Messiah.  That identity could hardly be more evident than it is here, on the Mount of Transfiguration.  Who should be conversing with Jesus, but Moses, the lawgiver, and Elijah, prophet among prophets?  In Matthew 7:15, Jesus asserts that he has come not to abolish, but to fulfill the Law and the prophets.  He is the completion of the story that Moses and Elijah both represent and embody.

All three appear in glory.  They shine forth with the light of God in their faithful witness to God's purpose -- which is exodus and Jerusalem.

I am grateful that this translation (New American Bible, rev.) uses the word exodus, where others translate departure or death.  No.  Exodus is critical, because we are meant to be recalled to the exodus from Egypt, the foundational story of Israel and, thus, of Israel's Messiah.

The exodus from Egypt is the saving event in Israel's story of God's saving work.  Israel escapes slavery only through the Passover, the sparing of the firstborn of Israel amidst the death of the firstborn of Egypt.  The Israelites are kept safe by being marked with the blood of the sacrificial lamb (Exodus 12).  They will be saved through the waters of the parted sea (Exodus 14).  They will wander in the desert for forty years.  They will inherit the land God has promised.

Jesus prophetically enacts every move -- passing through the waters in his baptism (at the Jordan, the river across which the Israelites under Joshua finally enter the Promised Land; see Joshua 3), spending forty days in the desert.  He is leading us on a new exodus from slavery -- to sin -- into a new land of promise, the Kingdom of God.

And the road goes through Jerusalem.

Even from the mountaintop, we must set our faces toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).  Beyond Egypt, beyond the desert, Jerusalem is ground zero for the story of salvation.  Jerusalem is the capital, the Holy City, the place of sacrifice.  It is our final destination, the only destination.  God's glory shines forth from this city on this hill.  If we are going to be light-bearers, God-image-bearers, we too will have to continue on from the mountaintop toward Jerusalem.

For Entering In...

Spend a few moments becoming present to yourself.  If your mind is preoccupied, allow the thoughts to come and to go.  Notice what you feel in your body, in your heart.

Invite God to be present with you.

Reflect on these questions:
  • The law can be seen as a way of maintaining a sound boundary.  It keeps us safe.  It can also keep others out, and it can oppress those who are "in."  How do you understand the role of the law in your spiritual life?  How does it relate to your sense of freedom?  Of responsibility?
  • Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, is a hymn in praise of God's law.  Spend the next few days reading some or all of it.  Write or reflect about what you discover about the law.  Does Psalm 119 change your view?  Reinforce it?
  • Who have been the lawgivers and keepers in your life?  What are the laws you have been expected to live by, either by others or by yourself?  Which, if any, would you like to have seen abolished?  Which laws, if any, have been flouted that you wanted to defend?
  • Jesus says that he has come not to abolish -- and not to defend -- but to fulfill the law.  Spend some time reflecting on this saying.  What might it mean to you, in your life today?
  • From what in your life are you looking to experience an "exodus" of freedom and deliverance?  Can you ask God to lead you out of your enslavement, your Egypt?
As you finish this quiet time, take a moment to connect with your soul and with the God who made you and is sustaining you this day, in this moment.  Notice your breathing.  Remember that it is a gift.

No comments:

Post a Comment