LIVING AMONG SERPENTS (John 3:14-21): 22 March 2009 (Fourth Sunday of Lent)
In today’s Gospel, you compared yourself to the bronze serpent that Moses lifted in the desert: The Israelites had found themselves in a desert teeming with serpents and were dying from their venomous bites. But whoever looked upon the bronze serpent that you asked Moses to raise on a pole were miraculously healed.
We too walk in a desert crawling with serpents. This world we live in can be quite a hostile and dangerous place: Things go wrong. Things fall apart. People get hurt. People harm others. Hearts get broken, and dreams shattered. We lose people we love–sometimes forever, for good, never seeing them again.
What’s worse, Lord, is that even this world inside me–my own heart–swarms with serpents too. Where does it come from–this venom in my heart? What is its origin–this dark power within that I know can blur my vision and possess me? These inner serpents frighten me more than those outside because sometimes when I’m thoughtless and prayer-less, I unwittingly identify with them, reduce myself to them, and lose sight of you dwelling in me.
We don’t always realize it, but we live a frighteningly dangerous life where in our own hands we find the power that can mean heaven or hell: Every decision I make, every word I utter, action I take, even thought that I entertain can lead me closer to you or kill my heart with the slow, secret poison of serpents.
Where are you, Lord? Let me turn my eyes towards your Calvary now. Let me keep them fixed on you hanging on your cross as the Israelites did on the serpent that Moses raised in the desert. I know the serpents are here to stay, but only your love as expressed on the cross will heal me from their poison, and only the sight of you against the sun will tame the serpents in my desert. Amen.
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(image: Margaret Thompson’s Moses and the Brazen Serpent)