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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Scripture Reading: Exodus 19:1–6  
On the third new moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.” (NRSV)

Two phrases caught my attention from this mountaintop moment in the wilderness sojourn of our Hebrew forebears in faith. First, God instructs Moses to tell the Israelites that the Holy One bore the people on eagle’s wings and brought them to God’s very self.

Last summer, I stood on the shore of Green Bay and caught sight of an eagle soaring on the strong breezes, first over the water and then the treetops, its extensive wingspan holding it high on “the wings of the wind.” What a compelling image!

Then I thought of the wisdom of the Hebrew language where the one word ruah expresses not only wind, but also breath and spirit. Just as the sustained winds enabled the eagle to soar high above me, the strengthening spirit of the living God had borne the Hebrews out of exile and along their wilderness journey. Just so, we are borne along our Lenten travels, upheld through all the twists and turns by God's mighty ruah.

A second phrase claims us as God’s “treasured possession.” Yes, it was initially addressed to our Hebrew forebears on their wilderness sojourn. Yet we are bold in faith to follow in their footsteps.

In the prayerful searching of our Lenten travels, the question is not so much who we are, but rather whose we are. How do we live into the gracious promise that we are God’s treasured possession as we seek to serve the Holy One and all our neighbors?

Loving, liberating God, I give you heartfelt thanks that in times of adversity and uncertainty, your spirit upholds me and strengthens me. Remind me, during my Lenten journey, that I am truly your treasured possession, called to serve you and all your people, following our Hebrew forebears in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Written by Jeff Doane, Pastor Emeritus, Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church

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