Tag Archives: Lent

An Exodus Metaphor

The Exodus is a primary historical and formative event of the Old Testament and thereby for the people to and with whom that collection of books was written. One could argue that the Exodus was the crucible through which the Hebrew people passed enroute to becoming the nation of Israel. It marked their passage from slaves in Egyptian bondage to becoming a free self-ruled people in the Promised Land. It was a formative period through which other future experiences would be seen, weighed and evaluated.

When reading the Exodus story one finds it was far from a linear experience. In fact the forty years of wandering, which God required of the Hebrew people, was much more of a meandering or looping trail than anything resembling a strait line between two points. This is true not only geographically but also spiritually. Much happened in those years of wilderness existence. They were formative years, meaning that they helped shape the people into a new identity. Many a preacher has commented that it was easier for God to get the Hebrews out of Egypt, than to get Egypt out of the Hebrews. The people frequently grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and through them to God. They expressed a preference to return to Egypt rather than suffer in the wilderness. The “go back to Egypt” committee was a standing committee in their camp.

Commenting on both this biblical story, and the metaphor it becomes in our own faith formation, author Brian McLaren writes: “Like them (the Hebrews), we must remember that going forward may be difficult, but going back is disastrous.” (McLaren, We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation and Activation, Jericho Books, 2014, p.42).

McLaren is inviting his reader to contemplate the exodus experiences of life that have, are, or will contribute to our own spiritual formation. These are crucible wilderness-like events through which we do the work of honing identity once again. They are seldom pleasant experiences, and sometimes – as was the case with Israel – can seem generational in length and endurance. But they need not become final experiences. In other words, one does not have to stay in the wilderness. One can learn from, be shaped by, and emerge from the wilderness with new purpose, understanding and identity. This forward work, as McLaren suggests in the quote, can (likely will) be difficult. Yet it is important work.

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Filed under Christian Faith, Hope, Ministry, Spiritual Formation

Forgive Us . . . As We Forgive

Most of us are all for forgiveness as it concerns our need to be forgiven by God, through Christ, for our sins. But, if we are honest, we’d likely prefer that the forgiveness be “unconditional” in nature. That is, we understand and appreciate that nothing we can do will earn or purchase the forgiveness of God’s grace as it is so generously poured out on us by Jesus.

So, why is it that when it comes to praying for forgiveness, in the prayer taught his disciples, Jesus makes it a “conditional” request? Do you remember this phrase of the Lord’s Prayer?: Forgive us our sins (trespasses) as we forgive those who sin (trespass) against us.

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Give Us This Day . . . .

Do you know the word “quotidian”? It means “occurring” or “belonging to every day.” Something is quotidian when it is commonplace, ordinary, daily. Think cooking, eating, bathing or grooming, laundry! These are daily tasks or chores that we engage in. Getting up and going to work is quotidian for many of us (or used to be if we are retired). We are creatures who live a daily rhythm.

Is it any wonder, then, that Jesus put something about “daily” into his model prayer? Give us this day our daily bread. This is ever bit as important a phrase in this prayer as those that precede and follow it. There is something important, about faith and discipleship that happens in the daily.

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Lifted Up

There are three places in the Gospel of John where “lifted up” sayings appear.  Each of these are quotes from Jesus.  Here they are:

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up”  – John 3:14


“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” – John 8:28


 “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” – John 12:32


This “lifted up” wording may sound strange to us, but Jesus and his contemporaries knew exactly what he meant.  In first century Palestine the primary way a person was “lifted up” was by crucifixion.  Jesus is forecasting his death, and the means by which he will die, in these sayings. Continue reading

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