The thin line of faith
Yesterday’s lesson for the senior adult Sunday School class I teach was about the returning of Hebrew exiles to Jerusalem as the result of Cyrus’, King of Persia, decision to build a new temple in Jerusalem. As I walked through the scripture passages, I was struck with the image of a thin line of people (many people!) and animals making their way to their homeland.
Then this morning I read from John Bailie’s wonderful prayer book Diary of Private Prayer these words, “I thank Thee that this Christian way whereon I walk is no untried or uncharted road, but a road beaten hard by the footsteps of saints, apostles, prophets, and martyrs.” And my mind painted a picture of a long thin line of people, of both sexes, of all colors, and all ages and from all ages, making their way to the New Jerusalem.
And as I read out of Matthew 1:17, “All those listed above include fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile, and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah.” I see a thin line of men (and women) stretch across the centuries.
And all of this is reflected in the words of the late Henri Nouwen, who quotes Isaiah 11:1-2 “A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him . . .” and then says something that I can only say “Amen” to:
The small child of Bethlehem, the unknown young man of Nazareth, the rejected preacher, the naked man on the cross, he asks for my full attention. The work of our salvation takes place in the midst of a world that continues to shout, scream, and overwhelm us with its claims and promises. But the promise is hidden in the shoot that sprouts from the stump, a shoot that hardly anyone notices. (via December 4, 2011 e-mail from the Henri Nouwen society and quoted from his book iGracias!)