In God I trust;
I am not afraid.
What can a mere mortal do to me?
My vows to you I must perform, O God.
I will render thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered
my soul from death,
and my feet from falling,
so that I may walk before God
to the light of life.
Persons who touched a dead body were considered unclean; so, there needed to be a way to restore them to community. The Lord gave the instructions. A red heifer with no defects was slaughtered and burned. Its ashes were added to water to provide a means of purification.
Touching the dead body was necessary. It had to be done. They couldn't leave dead bodies in the place where they died.
We now have our own categories of behavior that exclude people from our society. Some of which are necessary and some unnecessary. Some are due to accidents of birth--immigrants for example. Some are due to some former illegal act--paroled prisoners. Some are deemed by neighborhoods as not socially acceptable--sometimes because they are too poor; in other neighborhoods, because they are too rich (think gentrification).
Who is no longer allowed to be part of our community? What ways do we use to restore the rights of an excluded person?
They continue on their journey. In Meribah, they complain about the lack of water. The Lord tells Moses to gather the people before the rock there and command that it yield water. When the people were assembled, Moses struck the rock and water came out abundantly. God told him to use speech; instead Moses strikes the rock. The Lord said that Moses and Aaron had not following directions correctly not would not be allowed to enter the promised land.
(BTW, in Exodus 17:1-7, God had told Moses to strike the rock.)
Why must Moses join the generation condemned to die in the wilderness? Was the test for him whether he believed that God's word could accomplish what they needed? Or, has Moses quit being meek (see Number 12:10)? Does he think that he can save the people (Numbers 10:10)? Should we blame the people (Psalm 106:32-33)?
Jane D. Schaberg and Sharon Ringe warn that the Gospel of Luke is an extremely dangerous text. Many readers insist that because it contains a great deal of material about women that is found nowhere else in the Gospels that it must be promoting the status of women. But, this Gospel portrays women as models of subordinate service, excluded from the power center of the Christian movement and from significant responsibilities. Female characters are not leaders or prophets; they are prayerful, quiet, grateful, supportive of male leadership (Women's Bible Commentary).
The prologue states that the Gospel is an orderly account of the events of Jesus' life and its results. It is written to Theophilus, that is, a friend of God.
The first event described is about an elderly couple, Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, who is barren. One day when Zechariah is serving as priest in a temple, the angel Gabriel appears to him telling him that Elizabeth will bear a son. Zechariah's reaction is fear and disbelief. Gabriel tells him "Since you didn't believe me, you won't be able to speak until after your son is born."
Prayer for Today: O Lord, help us to listen to the stories of faith told to us and to understand what you are trying to tell us through them. Amen.