Numbers 6:24 The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
Numbers 6:25 The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
Numbers 6:26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
Numbers 6:27 And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.
I don’t remember what age I was when I ask Father about his closing words at the end of a service. I do remember He took me to the book of numbers and showed me The Aaronic Blessing. This he said was what Moses told Aaron and his sons on how to bless the people of Israel.
Like many puzzles in my youth I pressed on ….”But father you said we live under New Testament.” We do he replied; “but many scriptures are in the old Testament as an example for us.” Granted we now live by Grace and not under the law. I was always happy when I heard about us living under Grace and honestly I didn’t have a clue what Grace was. What I did know was I had a hard time not doing sin and I often could not keep up with all the rules and regulations in our church. Try as I may I’d screw up and end up praying to ask for forgiveness. They called us “backsliders.”
Becoming a community or group seemed to me to be a very complex, messy business. The pastors of the local churches didn’t agree on much, the people in office didn’t agree on much, and from neighborhood to neighborhood it was certainly marked by boundaries. The Italians stayed in their section, The Polish in their section. The Germans, and the French each held onto several blocks. Honestly, I think the volunteer fire department did the best job of bringing the people togther. They hosted big chicken and steamed clams feast and everybody came to support them. Here was a common ground. Nobody wanted to have a fire in their house without firemen.
The folks in the country side were fairly bundled up in their groups; the Germans, the Mennonites, the Amish, and all the other countries controlled land with their farms into sections. Here farmers market in downtown Lancaster brought everyone together. To boot the English bought goods from everyone.
Numbers gives us a lesson into the mess of growing up different. It’s our sense of what it’s like to be a part of God’s people. A human being created by God and called to live the faith and sacrificial love never concludes that we will all fit under one roof.
I think we’re to much into “judging other churches,” in our community. There’s certainly plenty of lost souls to fish for. Eugene Peterson says: Numbers is essential in training our imaginations to take in some of these less-than-romantic details by which we are formed into the people of God.
I had a Catholic (I want to say priest because I don’t know their term for deacon or elder) drink some coffee with me this week. He’s the second Catholic I’ve meet in Denison who I believe is fully spiritual and lives the spirit filled life. Certainly there is more. I’m limited only because I need to meet more. This brother and I will be in heaven together. Praise God.
Father God thanks for letting my imagination open up to accept other Christians in other churches. Amen