Christ Church, Susquehanna
The LORD our God spoke to us at Horeb, saying, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain.
Resume your journey, and go into the hill country of the Amorites as well as into the neighboring
regions-the Arabah, the hill country, the Shephelah, the Negeb, and the seacoast-the land of
the Canaanites and the Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates. See, I have
set the land before you; go in and take possession of the land that I swore to your ancestors, to
Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their descendants after them.”
Most of us at some point in our lives get a sense that we have been in the same place too long, that we need to recapture our vision, resolve (or forget) disputes (internal and external) that hinder our movement forward and get back on the road. Sure, I have felt this before in relationships, in work and in my spiritual life. In such moments, I have sometimes found a little reflection on the past to be a source of strength.
In today’s reading, we are back on the road and in the wilderness with Moses as he reviews with the Israelites some details of their history. His recounting of history sounds like an explanation of “this is why we did what we did.” At the appropriate time (after a great military victory) and after being commanded by God to do so, Moses reminds the Israelites that God had told them to leave Mount Horeb (said to be Sinai) and resume their journey because they had stayed there too long. They had started their journey to the Promised Land but had stopped. Moses reminded the Israelites that God and then told them to reclaim their vision and possession of the land God had promised them. Interestingly, Moses also reminds the Israelites that Moses had established a vast process of conflict resolution to address the many disputes that arose among the Israelites while wandering in the wilderness. An important feature of that process, Moses reminded the Israelites, is fairness and courageous judges.
Is there a part of my journey where I have stayed too long? Well, yes, I confess to acting like I take some of my relationships for granted. Alas, on occasion the relationship I most neglect is with God. Can I describe what my vision is, let alone recapture it? OK, clearly I have room for improvement there. Are there disputes that hinder my movement forward – do I even remember what the dispute is about? Have I thought about how I can resolve (or forget) those disputes? Golly, this reading prompts a lot of reflection and self-examination and Lent was over months ago. Now I’m convinced: before I go further on this journey, I need to clean up some things.