The time is ripe for bad theology. Cringe-worthy Christian statements pitting science against faith. I am relieved to read the letter drafted by Rabbi Alan Cook on behalf of the Interfaith Alliance of Champaign County. His heart, his wisdom, and his leadership comfort and cheer me. I am grateful to be part of this faith community. 

So I pause before today’s story. The source of medical symbolism. A poisonous snake on a pole in the desert. 

Psalm 102 is also assigned for today. Fitting. As we cry out in this time of trouble.

It would be a mistake for me to distill an ancient story into simple spiritual laws. God does not fit in the boxes we build. Does not conform to predictable formulas. And I don’t know what you are experiencing. Or what you need today. 

I have been reminded recently that I am often the source of my own suffering. My habits of thinking and behaving. I get stuck. 

The people became impatient on the road. Numbers 21:4b (CEB)

They blamed and complained. I am familiar. With my own tendencies. How I, also, speak too quickly.

This time outside our normal routines. When our worlds are turned upside down. Often exacerbates some of my problematic personality traits. I am anxious. And tired of myself. I would like someone else to solve things for me.

Pray to the Lord so that he will send the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. Numbers 21: 7b (CEB)

Fix it, please. God. Moses. Intervene on my behalf. Make it all go away. The responsibility. For our words and actions. For being the agents of our own healing. But the answer is not to make the snakes go away. No magical deliverance. Poof, disappear!

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous snake and place it on a pole. Whoever is bitten can look at it and live.” Num 21:8 (CEB)

The cure requires effort. An intimate familiarity with what is biting us. Choosing to examine closely, rather than look away. The source of our healing is lifting up the source of our sickness. The antidote is found in the venom. 

We have been forced to pause our relentless march. Our journeys have been interrupted. Sickness has ground us to a halt. Giving us time to look. At ourselves. At our society. The things we say and do. Our habits. Our assumptions. To consider what we hold dear. 

We feel the poison. We are weary. We need healing. 

Today we pray for our world. For the suffering. For the dying. For the courage to look closely at what ails us. For the discovery of healing. We ask for mercy. That we will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. 

Service 3/29: Grieving the Dry Bones
Bulletin 3/29
Order of Service 3/29

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