The church would be a completely different place if we truly heeded these words.
Let it be so.
Pray to the Lord so that he will send the snakes away from us. So Moses prayed for the people. Numbers 21:7b
When we come across this passage in the Bible, especially in Lent, it is jarring. Why would God send snakes to the people of Israel for complaining about the food? Sounds like a bit of an overreaction. I’m not going to ask God to rain down snakes on my children if they complain about having to eat vegetables.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the details of these snakes that bite people and the sobering fact that some people actually die. While this isn’t unimportant we could be missing another important detail: Moses heard the cries of the people and prayed for them.
As followers of Christ we can follow in the footsteps of not only Christ but of the people of Israel especially. Moses.
Moses had a tough job, not only did he have led people from slavery to Promised Land but they weren’t happy about it. They complained and complained a bunch. The food wasn’t good, the water tasted bad, they were lost and things seemed better in Egypt under an oppressive dictator where they were slaves for the good of Empire.
Had God called me to led the people of Israel I would have left them wandering in the desert after about a month of complaining.
But therein lies a problem, I would have abandoned the people.
They can be the thorn in our side or the safety net to catch us when we fall. People at their best can show the wonderment of God’s mercy and goodness, at their worst they make us hang our head in shame.
People are vitally important in all of our lives; we are inherently social creatures.
Being a hospital chaplain I have the opportunity to be with people in the best and worst times of their lives. The world around us does not stop because someone close to us has a heart attack or is involved in a car accident. Some days I have to remember that I’m am there to serve, talk and be with people and nothing else. People are at the heart of the gospel, the other.
Moses had more than likely hundreds of thousands of people to guide and lead and he still remembered them even when they gave him every opportunity to.
Instead of saying “well you shouldn’t have complained,” or “serves you right,” Moses prayed for the people; he called on God for mercy and God answered.
This Lent the scandal of the cross is that while Christ might have been crucified to settle a first century judicial system penalty it is so much more than that.
This entire Lenten journey is not solely about us and our needs, but for all of humanity, you know… the people.
God help to remember the people around us. Guide us through our wilderness. Remind us of your grace and presence this Lent. In Christ Holy Name, Amen.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.
I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s hand to guard me.
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.
Christ shield me today
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in me.
I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of Creation.
Last Friday I was privledged to speak at Lamar State College Port Arthur about the role and function of a chaplain in health care to a class of nursing students. The students were great and asked some insightful questions.
Thanks again to Lamar State College for their invitation.
If you would like Rev. Evan to come speak at your church or event, click here.
I know that it has been a while since I have given you an update about the book. Thank you for patience!
Here is where we stand.
Today, I received the “marked up” copy edited version of my manuscript. I will be reviewing it and answering some questions about the text this week. The draft will then be sent back to the publisher for type setting.
After type setting the copy will be sent back to me for one more review and then off to printing.
As of right now the working title has changed to “Seeking Imperfection: Body Image, Marketing and God.”
I am thankful for all of your support and look forward to what the future holds. It will be a fun next couple of months and I want you to come along for the ride.
Be sure to fill out the form below to have all future blog posts sent to you via email. Also please please please be sure to follow me on Twitter @RevEvanDolive and on Facebook at FB.com/evandoliveauthor for even more updates!
Latest piece picked up by Sojourners
In an effort to share my love and passion for my faith, I have picked and poked and criticized the church, and maybe that is a bit unfair. I have been a minister going on six years, and during that time, I have been the best and the worst that the church can offer.
I have a certain understanding of the way a church should operate, and when I do not see that being played out in the communities around me, it makes me upset: upset about the way God is presented, upset about the droves of people who will miss out on a life-changing relationship with God, and upset that I cannot change everything.
It’s difficult for me as a young minister to slow down and be reflective in the face of impending decline and danger of closures for many of our congregations.
It’s not easy being a minister today, and I guess it’s easier to take out my frustrations on the church instead looking for that ‘silver lining.’
But I have a come to the conclusion that maybe all is not lost.
The church is that place where people can come with all of their faults, insecurities, and even doubts about the world, themselves, Jesus, the Bible, and God, and find a place of acceptance, warmth, welcoming, and peace.
Every day, the church serves countless people around the world through hospitals, hospices, medical missions, homeless shelters, food pantries, and so much more.
These fly under the radar of popular culture, but they are vitally important. I was wrong to look over these things.
The church today is at a crossroads, and there is no denying that. We have a long way to go in a lot of different areas, but for right now the gospel is being preached, the love of God is being shared, and the grace of Jesus the Christ is being given.
The sky is not falling, the boat is not sinking, the end is not near. If we go looking for the bad things, we will find them. If we focus on what we are doing for the Kingdom, then we will see the movement of God in our midst.
Let’s focus on what we do right not what we do wrong. This does not mean that we allow atrocities and injustices slip past us in an effort to be more positive, but it does mean that we slow down, be a bit more reflective and intentional about the ways the church is still here with us even after 2,000+ years of human intervention.
The church’s core foundation of love, joy, hope, peace, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation are still there and they will never go away. The ministries that we promote, the gospel that is proclaimed, and the mission of the church must not change. We can change its transmission or function, but the core ideals and tenets are still in place.
Let’s hold on to these foundational tenets as we venture out into this world that is in desperate need of a Savior. We might not agree on theology, doctrine, or even ways to have communion, but at our core the church is still trying to serve the same God and the same Christ.
There is so much work to be done, and its time to do it.
I’ll do my best to continue showcasing the good and as well as the not so good in the days and years to come. It’s only right that we, as the body of Christ, become one in the Spirit of justice and trust and come around our commonalities not those which drive us apart.
Until then, I will strive to do better in my own ministry and my own walk with God.
I’ll keep the faith.
I’ll share the faith.
I’ll love the faith.
I’ll serve the risen Christ.
I’m not going to wave a white flag yet; there is too much to do.
Photo Credit: “play of light santhome church” by Vinoth Chandar via Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License 2.0.
For the residents of the other 49 states in the Union, today is just another Monday. For the residents of the great state (and former country) of Texas today is more important. On March 2, 1836, the Republic of Texas was born.
Happy Texas Independence Day!
I am excited to give my first guest lecture tomorrow at Lamar State Collage in Port Arthur, Texas tomorrow. I will be speaking on the role and function of the chaplain in health care settings to nursing students.
I have been going over my notes and tweaking my PowerPoint presentation and I remembered this gem from The Office.
May it brighten your day as you strive toward the prize that is the weekend.