Guest Contributor
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Thursday, March 4

Contributed by Janet Eastwood

Exodus 19:16-25
“Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God,
and they stood at the foot of the mountain”.

Sometimes I am afraid that I – that the church, that we – have domesticated
God. Got a parking spot? Praise the Lord! Prayer takes on band aid-like
qualities: slap a little prayer on and all is mended. Easy God-talk makes me
restless. Shouldn’t there be something more than a semi-domesticated pet of
a God, like a roving cat who will return for dinner if you call for long enough?
Mount Sinai asks if I’m ready for a God who isn’t domesticated.
When the Israelites meet God, day breaks with terrifying natural effects which
herald God’s coming, the swelling soundtrack that declares: Be ready! Pay
attention! The people leave the camp: theophany is too overwhelming to fit in
the everyday. They stand at the foot of the mountain and dare go no further.
God descends to the highest point and summons Moses up, telling him to
warn the people against approaching. Repeated vertical language reiterates
the distance, the difference, between God and us. God is so holy; God’s
presence is dangerous.
God is holy. We are not. We of all times and peoples know how much our
house needs cleaning. We are dirtied not by the desert but by generations of
unjust laws and personal and systemic prejudices that have shaped us. We
are not ready. We want to gaze upon God, and we tremble at the thought.
God comes down anyway, wrapped in holiness that awes and terrifies,
holiness that prepares to welcome us nearer, through the words that God
speaks next.

Holy God, we need you. Shape us into a people whose lives mirror your
holiness so that our everyday lives reflect your love for all the world.

Janet Eastwood lived at St. Andrew’s Hall during her studies at the Vancouver School of
Theology. She graduated in spring 2020 and is currently co-director of Camp Douglas, a
Presbyterian summer camp on the Sunshine Coast.