Is the Lord standing with us or not?
Presence matters. What we believe about the reality of God among us will be the foundation, the solid rock that is not shaken. As daily life goes on without the necessities of kindness, equality, and unity, we as a people start to fight, complain, and respond poorly towards each other. Everything is shaken around and within. The wilderness story continues in Exodus as the people of God complain:
EXODUS 17 The entire community of Israel traveled in stages out of the desert…They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water there to quench their thirst. Once again the people complained to Moses.
Israelites: Give us water to drink! We’re thirsty.
Moses: Why do you aim your complaints at me? Why are you testing the Eternal One?
But the people were so thirsty for water, they complained to Moses and leveled accusations against him.
Moses: What am I supposed to do with these people and their relentless complaining? They are on the verge of stoning me.
Eternal One (to Moses): Here’s what I want you to do: go on ahead of the people and take some of the elders of Israel with you. Also, be sure to bring your shepherd’s staff—the one with which you struck the Nile. I will be there when you arrive standing at the rock of Horeb. I want you to strike the rock with your staff; and when you do, water will flow out of it so that everyone will have enough to drink.
The elders of Israel accompanied Moses and watched as he did what the Eternal directed. Moses named the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites complained and tested the Eternal, saying, “Is He standing with us or not?”
Exodus 17 (The Voice Translation) The Voice attempts to translate the poetry, humor, and beauty of the Bible’s passages in a screenplay format using “Eternal One” for YHWH. The Sunday Lectionary for Sept. 27, 2020 includes Exodus17:1-7.
Tributes for Ruth Bader Ginsberg have been pouring out on social media and news outlets. On Gospel musician Amy Grant’s Facebook, she posted about RGB saying, “My daughters are growing up in a different world than I did. Thank you Ruth. We will keep telling your story because you inspire each of us to use our unique gifts, talents, and voices to speak truth, love justice, and live humbly.”
What followed in thousands of comments was a battle over abortion rights, prompting the Fan Club comment: “The battles taking place in the comments below are disheartening. Before you argue with each other, please take a moment and remember that it is possible to disagree with people without being disagreeable.”
Soul Search. As the battle continues to rage around us affecting our thoughts, speech, and faith, what questions rise up as you try to pray?
“Are you standing with us Lord? Are you here?”
Take some moments now to sit in solitude and approach the Eternal, the Divine One.
Reflect and Journal about a time that your life was shaken and God stood on the rock providing what was needed:
I will be there when you arrive standing at the rock of Horeb. I want you to strike the rock with your staff; and when you do, water will flow out of it so that everyone will have enough to drink. Exodus 17:6
Lectio Divina Meditation. Read Psalm 15 (The Voice), which considers the character of the person who wishes to approach God with prayers of lament, complaints, and questions. Read it through three times, the first time to listen, the second time to reflect, and a third time to respond:
1 Eternal One, who is invited to stay in Your dwelling?
Who is granted passage to Your holy mountain?
2 Here is the answer: The one who lives with integrity, does what is right,
and speaks honestly with truth from the heart.
3 The one who doesn’t speak evil against others
or wrong his neighbor,
or slander his friends.
4 The one who loathes the loathsome,
honors those who fear the Eternal,
And keeps all promises no matter the cost.
5 The one who does not lend money with gain in mind
and cannot be bought to harm an innocent name.
If you live this way, you will not be shaken and will live together with the Lord.
Photo: Split Rock at Horeb at Rephidim, present day Saudi Arabia. This rock is split through the middle and displays a pattern of water erosion and evidence that numerous streams came forth in several directions.