FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY
God must be reading the blog because yesterday the readings in church were all about serpents, rebellious fools, healing, and the truth. With some manna thrown in.
The first reading was Numbers 21:4-9.
“4 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. 5 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.” 6 Then the Lord sent poisonousserpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. 7 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. 8 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.” 9 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.”
I learned during the sermon that the Hebrew word for manna means “what’s this?”. Don’t you love this definition? According to Merriam-Webster, it can also mean “b:divinely supplied spiritual nourishment c : a usually sudden and unexpected source of gratification, pleasure, or gain“. In any event, the heavenly fast food did not look like food; the Isrealites, not satisfied with a bland diet, complained about their meal. Unfulfilled expectations! They were also supremely irritated about having to take the long way home. So irritated were they, they thought enslavement might have been preferable (!).
The Gospel reading was John 3: 14-2.
14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
(Biblical poisonous serpents, it should be noted, have two upper jaw hollow point fangs and move slower than your average garden-variety snake.)
But before I even address “belief” (another topic for another day), it is the last part of the Gospel that I believe upon which most of humanity hinges. Are you walking towards the light? It seems to me that this part has to take place first, before belief is even an issue. For the most part, humanity is seeking the good, the light, the truth. Frequently, however, something like a one-eyed trouser snake sneaks into the picture and screws it all up. (Just remember that in THE END, it is Mother Mary who crushes the wiley creature).
I could go on all day about the unclean, dirt eating creatures. But I am going to soothe your frazzled nerves by suggesting you activate your first four chakras by practicing a little Cobra pose, Bhujangasana, a HEART opener. Per my Yoga Toolbox book by Joseph and Lilian LePage, ” The snake represents the forces of the natural world. As the cobra rises up, it represents opening to receive spiritual energy. Grounded in the earth and open …. we meet life with a willingness to embrace all experiences, both positive and negative, as part of our process of learning and awakening.”
That seems a lot for a snake to assimilate but I am going with it, in whatever form it comes in: Crocheted, bronze, rubber, or …. perish the thought.