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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, March 21, 2019              

Today’s 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)

The writer Anna Quindlen once likened seeing her child to watching her own heart beat outside her body.

When our son Julian was young, my wife or I would frequently strap him into a blue mesh backpack and take him with our other three sons on family outings. We would walk to neighborhood restaurants; hike to the edge of a Guatemala volcano; trudge up—and down—a trail above the Grand Tetons’ Jenny Lake.

This was no ordinary backpack, and Julian was no ordinary child. You see, Julian was born with a rare genetic disorder called Williams Syndrome and didn’t have the same physical coordination or stamina as a typical kid.

When we traveled together, I could sometimes feel Julian’s irregular heart beat through the cloth of the backpack. I knew that any danger directed toward Julian would first need to pass through me.

In this passage from Exodus, Moses meets God on Mount Sinai after the Israelites have escaped Egypt and traveled ninety days in the wilderness. God wants Moses to reinforce God’s message of love for the Israelites and tell them how God “bore you on eagles’ wings.”

It is said that an eagle does not carry her young in her claws like other birds; young eagles attach themselves to the back of the mother eagle and are protected as they are carried. Any arrow from a hunter must pass through the mother eagle before it can touch her young eagle.

God carries the Israelites on his back and leads them to freedom to become a “priestly kingdom and a holy nation.” God does the same for each of us today: 7.5 billion earthly hearts—beating, beating, beating.

Dear God, thank you for carrying me on your back and making me one of your beating hearts. Amen.

Written by Phil Calian, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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