Speaking to the Soul: The Less Famous Version

2 Christmas, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 85, 87 (morning) // 89:1-29 (evening)

Joshua 3:14-4:7

Ephesians 5:1-20

John 9:1-12,35-38

I feel a little sorry for today’s story from the Book of Joshua. Not only is Joshua himself the less-famous successor to Moses, but the miracle described in today’s first reading is like an amazing but somewhat less dramatic or impressive version of the Exodus from Egypt. When God’s people cross the river Jordan, they are simply making steady progress toward the Promised Land, rather than having Pharaoh’s army in hot pursuit. They are led by human priests rather than the angel of God or the pillar of cloud. And they cross a seasonally overflowing river, not the massive Red Sea.

The crossing of the river Jordan still has marvelous elements: When the priests carrying the ark of God’s presence dip their feet in the water’s edge, the river arrests its flow. Water starts piling up, and all of God’s people make it safely across on dry ground. Then, twelve representatives of God’s people each select a stone from the river bottom and set them on firm land as a sign of this event. One day, their children will ask, “What do these stones mean to you?” And the people will be able to tell future generations about the day when the river Jordan stood still.

In spite of these memorial stones, the crossing of the river Jordan gets much less attention than the deliverance from Egypt. However, the stones in today’s Scripture should remind us to tell stories about how God has acted in our own lives, even when it hasn’t been a dramatic, impressive, weather-related miracle. How has God ushered us across intimidating barriers? How has God held us up when we could have been pulled under or swept away by currents that seemed so strong? These stories are like those twelve stones hauled from the river: tangible signs of what God means to each of us. And perhaps they are, for that, all the more powerful.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with education, young adult ministry, and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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