Words from the Weary Wilderness - Lenten Journey Day 17
Day Seventeen Monday, March 21
When We Confront (Leprous or other) Unclean People
Read: Numbers 5:1-4
5 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Command the Israelites to put out of the camp everyone who is leprous, or has a discharge, and everyone who is unclean through contact with a corpse; 3 you shall put out both male and female, putting them outside the camp; they must not defile their camp, where I dwell among them. 4 The Israelites did so, putting them outside the camp; as the Lord had spoken to Moses, so the Israelites did.
Today’s Word from the Weary Wilderness: “put out of the camp” (Numbers 5:1)
Reflection: This is a passage about exclusion from the community for the purpose of public health. Large numbers of people traveling together, such as refugees in the case of the Israelites, would have come upon a myriad of health concerns. It would have been hard to isolate in a camp; it might have also been dangerous to try to survive outside of one. I read this passage in a new way in the age of COVID, where many social creatures have experienced long periods of isolation - and so many health care workers have been in contact with corpses. Such loneliness. How must it have felt to have been isolated outside the camp in the Sinai wilderness? How did it feel to be isolated from community during COVID? How does it feel today, as we all struggle to re-assimilate and re-learn social skills?
Prayer: God of the Wilderness, this passage about exclusion feels different for us since we have all been living “out of the camp” for the past two years. We have self-isolated, but we have also isolated others from ourselves. We have isolated away those who do not agree with us, and those we feel may do us harm by their worldviews coming into contact with ours. Is there anything we need to learn today about where you dwell today? Do you really only dwell “in the camp,” as verse 3 says? Help us understand isolation, and help us to locate you and dwell where you are, and to see that there is health in inviting others. Amen.
Blessings of Peace and Health,
Rev. Beverly B. Coppley
& Chief Missional Strategist