Fourth Sunday in Lent

“From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.” Numbers 21:4-9

“I want Jesus to walk with me,
I want Jesus to walk with me,
All along my pilgrim journey,
Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me”
“I want Jesus to Walk with me” vs. 1, Afro-American spiritual

 When I think of Lent, I think of a journey…a journey to the cross but also a journey to new life. So, it’s appropriate that one of this week’s scriptures is about Moses leading his people on a journey, through the wilderness to a new land beyond. The spiritual journey has been one of my own themes as I’ve grown over the years in my awareness of God and of God’s leading. And these past years, spent in the Holy Land, have seen this idea of journey enhanced by the concept of pilgrimage.

A couple of years ago, as I was participating in a silent retreat, my spiritual director asked me to write a parable of pilgrimage that reflected my own journey.  This is what I wrote:

            A pilgrim seeker sets out on a journey, not knowing how she will arrive but trusting in the leading of a voice not her own.  On the way she meets many challenges, but always feels protected, cared for, not alone.  As she continues her journey she encounters people and situations which cause her to reflect on, question and sometimes change her perception of the world around her.  She sees people who are invisible, hears voices that go unheard.  She sees God who cares and sees and hears and who invites her to do the same and to share this caring and seeing and hearing with others.  As she continues on, she begins to understand that the destination is not just a place but the journey itself.

 Lord, during this season of Lent, may we see our lives as a journey with you and for others.  May your presence guide us each step that we take.  Amen.

-Tina Whitehead, United Methodist Volunteer in Palestine and Israel

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