What Is Saving Your Life Right Now? Walking on the Earth

Weekly Bible Devotional

“What Is Saving Your Life Right Now? Walking on the Earth”

5-10-20

 

Scriptures for Sunday: Exodus 3:1-6 & Luke 24:13-32

Exodus 3:1-6

1Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Luke 24:13-32

 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

 

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”

 

Notes on the Text:

This week we continue with the theme of “What Is Saving Your Life Right Now?” We are focusing on the practice of “Walking on the Earth.” We have two texts as I am comparing two different ways of walking. In both cases, people were living under stress and not expecting to encounter God, and yet their readiness levels were different. The first story from Exodus 3 is about the encounter Moses had with God which turned an ordinary experience into holy ground. Moses was an outlaw, a fugitive. He had killed an Egyptian man who was beating a Hebrew man. As a result, Moses had to flee to the desert to protect his own life. He was living the life of a refugee, trying to stay out of trouble. His life was threatened from the beginning when Pharaoh had given orders to the Egyptian midwives to kill all the Hebrew babies as they were being born. Then his mother and sister had to devise a plan to keep his identity a secret. Moses himself doubted that he would be a leader. By the time of this story, he was an old man and had given up on leadership. He became a shepherd. As he was going about his work, tending the sheep of his father-in-law, he came upon a special bush that had fire around it but was not burning.

Biblical scholars have discovered that there is a botanical explanation for this phenomenon. This could happen to a plant called Dictamnus albus or Gas Plant. The whole plant, especially when rubbed, gives out an odor like lemon-peel. It is due to an essential oil, which gives off an inflammable vapor in heat or in dry, cloudy weather, which also becomes solid, exuding from the rusty-red glands in the flowers. This accounts for the fact that the atmosphere surrounding it will often take fire if approached by a lighted candle or a spark, without injuring the plant. The amazing encounter with God happened when Moses paid attention to the plant. He was walking and paying attention to the things that were right in front of him.

After that encounter, everything changed for Moses. He was able to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. He was able to go back to Egypt to save his people and it all started with a mindful walk where he paid attention!

The second story is that of two disciples who were walking away from Jerusalem with a lot on their minds. This is the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They had heard the witness of the women about the resurrection of Jesus, but fear and despair had gripped their hearts and minds so tightly that they could not see beyond the execution of Jesus. Their hopes were crushed by his death. Despair was the mood of the day! Even the words of the women they had heard about seeing Jesus seemed like foolishness, a fantasy that could not be trusted. They had no reason for staying in Jerusalem. And because of their deep grief and sense of despair, when Jesus appeared to them, they didn’t recognize him at all! They witnessed the events in Jerusalem but didn’t really understand them. Jesus walked and talked with them to help them understand what happened, but they didn’t recognize him. This is a puzzling piece for many biblical scholars. If the disciples knew Jesus, how could they not have recognized him? We can get stuck trying to explain the details of the story or why and how they could have happened or not even happened, but the message here for us is about something deeper. Cleopas and his walking companion had been with Jesus for maybe hours before they knew who he was. Even at a good walking clip, and allowing for some brief breaks, the journey between Jerusalem and Emmaus which is estimated to be seven miles long will take a good three hours. We are told that “their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” Why do you think they were not able to recognize him? What was stopping their hope? Could it have been their severe sense of loss? Could it have been their fear of being next to die? Could it have been their inability to connect with the stranger on a heart level?

These two stories show us two different ways of walking. The first one is from the example of Moses, where he steps closer to it and takes off his shoes in reverence. The other is walking without noticing what is really going on around or inside of you. One is a mindful walk and the other is almost like sleep walking. Moses and the two disciples had a lot on their minds, but the difference was that one was awake while the others were numb and unable to pay true attention. We can relate to both stories. There are days when we lose track of what day it is or what month it really is. There also times when we are so aware of God’s presence.

For Reflection:

Walking can become a lifesaving experience if we are intentional about it. We can bring a level of mindfulness to it that could save our lives by helping us to live more fully.

Walking can become a lifesaving experience if we are intentional about it. We can bring a level of mindfulness to it that could save our lives by helping us to live more fully.

In her book An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor writes that one of the ways the practice of walking on the earth could become a lifesaving spiritual practice is when we learn to detach the act of walking from the destination. Think about it! Most of our walking is connected to a destination. Taylor writes, “To detach the walking from the destination is in fact one of the best ways to recognize the altars you are passing right by all the time. Most of us spend so much time thinking about where we have been or where we are supposed to be going that we have a hard time recognizing where we actually are. When someone asks us where we want to be in our lives, the last thing that occurs to us is to look down at our feet and say, ‘Here, I guess, since this is where I am.’”

Many of you are walking outside these days more so than ever before. I hope that you can take the time to do some mindful walking. Even if you are unable to walk, you can still benefit from being intentional about grounding yourself through your feet. Putting one’s feet on the ground in a mindful way can be an immensely powerful practice of connecting to God’s earth.

One of the great spiritual practices is walking a labyrinth. There are many different labyrinth designs, but all of them have the same idea. Helping people to just mindfully walk and to let God speak to them about their lives. Here are a couple of videos about making a simple labyrinth in your yard or home:

https://youtu.be/H5–pGSEbPY

https://youtu.be/eZRVYfAAd5U

The Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn teaches walking meditations to people who visit his spiritual center in France. The idea behind it is simple and yet difficult. Walking each step slowly with mindfulness. Here is a poem by him about walking:

Take my hand.

We will walk.

We will only walk.

We will enjoy our walk

without thinking of arriving anywhere.

Walk peacefully.

Walk happily.

Our walk is a peace walk.

Our walk is a happiness walk.

Then we learn

that there is no peace walk;

that peace is the walk;

that there is no happiness walk;

that happiness is the walk.

We walk for ourselves.

We walk for everyone

always hand in hand.

 

Walk and touch peace every moment.

Walk and touch happiness every moment.

Each step brings a fresh breeze.

Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.

Kiss the Earth with your feet.

Print on Earth your love and happiness.

 

Earth will be safe

when we feel in us enough safety.

Here is a link to a video with a song based on this poem: https://youtu.be/DvZ_RzCbsDM

 

Prayer by Edward Hays:

Lord, help me this day to slow down.

It will not be easy for you – even you – to slow me down

for I seem caught in the traffic-rush of life.

I rush through my prayers, hurry through my meals and run

from one thing to another.

But I have faith that my choices and your graces together

can change my racetrack style of life.

I know, Lord, even before you whisper it in my ear, that you

are waiting for me in the slower, quieter things of life.

Teach me, Lord of Life, how to eat my food with awareness;

show me how to walk deliberately rather than to run constantly,

how to truly visit and be present rather than merely exchanging words.

Help me, Divine Friend, to take my time in praying to you.

Show me that it is good just to “waste” time with you just enjoying a sunset or a friendship.

With your presence and assistance, I will attempt to do all things

with mindfulness: slowly, carefully and fully aware of what I am doing.

Then, with your grace, I shall find you, my God, in those unhurried and mindful moments. Amen.

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