In about a week, I will be arrested. My sister says, "about time!"
But it is for a good cause.
I'm proud to tell you that I'm going "behind bars" to help in the fight against muscle disease. I'm joining other community leaders to help raise critical funds for MDA, and I need your help to reach my bail!
The Marion County, MO 2012 Lock Up takes place on 03/29/2012, but I'm raising my bail before I go to jail! All you have to do is click here to make a secure, online donation today. Your support will help families living in our community with muscle disease, and help guarantee that I get out of jail. I will be sure to add you to my list of contributors.
Please support me in this important goal by visiting my fundraising page and making a contribution. Your tax-deductible donation makes a difference to the hundreds of kids, adults and their families who live right here in our local community.
In Numbers 21, we read about poisonous snakes attacking God's people in the desert. Now, I am with Indiana Jones on this-- "snakes; why did it have to be snakes?" I do not like snakes in any way, shape, or form. Yes, I know. I know.
The snakes come in response to the people's lack of trust and obedience. Once again they have been complaining against Moses, but also against God. In the people's discontent all they can see is what they don't have: "at least in Egypt we had bread to eat and water to drink."
Gone is all memory of what God has been doing for them. God set them free from their slavery in Egypt. Water has come gushing forth from rocks to quench their thirst. God has even given them quail and manna to eat.
So snakes come and begin to bite the Israelites. This is no vampire story, however. Those who are bitten suffer a slow and often very painful death. I knew there is a reason I do not like snakes. Maybe I am not silly in my aversion to snakes, after all.
But that is not the end of the story. Notice that God also sends the remedy. God commands Moses to make a bronze (or fiery) serpent and mount it on a pole. When the victims of the snakes look up at the bronze snake, they are healed and live.
Given God's command against images in the Ten Commandments, this seems strange. However, it is not the snake that saves the people. Statues or figures do not have that power-- they are inanimate objects.
Rather it is the trust and obedience of following God's instructions that cures the people. When the people look up, they are pointed beyond themselves, beyond the snake, beyond Moses to the Lord God. And that is the true source of their healing.
"I lift up my eyes to the hills-
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth."
In Exodus 20, we read of the "giving of the Law." God has delivered the people from the slavery and bondage of Egypt through Moses. Following the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, the people are making their way to the Promised Land- the land the Lord God had promised years and years and years ago to Abraham and to all of Abraham's descendents.
At the moment, other people live there. These people worship many, many gods. It will be tempting for God's people to adapt and fit in. So God gives God's people the Ten Words, the Ten Commandments: No other gods, only me. No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim.
No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won't put up with the irreverent use of his name. Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Honor your father and mother so that you'll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you. No murder.
No adultery. No stealing. No lies about your neighbor. No lusting after your neighbor's house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey.
This is not a check list of do's and don't's. Rather they are God's way of forming a people who are radically different. The purpose of the Commandments is to help God's people remember who and Who's they are, and to help them keep the Lord their God first and foremost in their lives.
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet; so Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title." So speaks Juliet in the immortal balcony scene of Shakespeare's most famous play, "Romeo and Juliet." In her infatuated love for Romeo, Juliet ponders the power of a name.
In former times, names carried power. To know someone and to call them by their name meant to have some power, or control, over the other person. I often think back to my favorite writer, Jane Austen. In Jane's day, people were never addressed by their Christian names. That meant you were on familiar terms and that you had knowledge of the person. Only family members, and later engaged couples, could presume to such intimacy.
In Mark 8, Jesus asks His inner circle who He is. The 12 have now been with Jesus for three years. They have heard Him teach and they have seen Him heal. Now Jesus asks them who do they believe that He is. Not who the people or even Herod thinks He is, but who THEY think that He is. Simon Peter, ever ready to answer, calls out: "You are the Christ, the Messiah, God's Chosen and Anointed One!"
From our standpoint, almost two thousand years later, we know that Peter has the right response. We know how Jesus' earthly story ends and see it through a lens of faith. So we often fail to see how radical Peter's answer was. To say that Jesus was the Christ, the Lord was subversive. That meant that Caesar, and the Roman hierarchy imposed upon the land, has no ultimate power or control.
Jesus then uses this moment to teach about what true power looks like. True greatness looks like putting your faith and your beliefs ahead or personal gain or self-interest. Power, true power, lies in stepping out of one's comfort zone to work for peace and justice. It looks like denying one's self and carrying the cross of the One who goes before us.