Divine Presence, Purpose and Promise

 

By Homeland Hospice Chaplain Dann Caldwell, M. Div., Th. M.

In early April we are invited to celebrate two significant religious traditions and spiritual experiences: the Jewish Passover, a celebration of God’s freedom and liberation for the Hebrew Slaves from the Egyptian Pharaoh’s bondage; and the Christian Holy Week, which includes several opportunities to remember the last days of Jesus and His resurrection and triumph over death on Easter Sunday. The Exodus and Passover are dated by some scholars to have taken place in the 1400s or 1300s BCE (3,400 or 3,300 years ago), while the first Holy Week and Easter is now 20 centuries old or 2,000 years ago. The Exodus and Passover story can be found primarily in Exodus and Deuteronomy from the Hebrew Scriptures, and the story of Jesus and the last week of his life and the beginning of the Resurrection can be found in the latter chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark and Luke and John from the Christian New Testament.

Both these celebrations invite us to consider the Divine Presence and Purpose and Promise in our lives, any day, any time and any moment when one feels threatened by overwhelming powers.

Our Jewish friends remind us that we should ask, “What enslaves us and what holds us captive, and to whom can we turn who will provide us deliverance and sanctuary?”

Our Christian friends remind us that we should ask, “What will we do in the face of death, and can we live boldly as those who are prepared to die, so that in living or dying our Hope is found in God?”

Many traditions and other texts raise similar questions as these traditions. I find great comfort in the Hope provided from these two religious traditions and invite you to share your personal Hope with each other and me.

I share with you a couple of my personal favorites, some selections from Psalm 27 in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Gospel of Mark Chapter 6 from the Christian New Testament. Each one speaks to our need for courage and strength and hope in uncertain and hard times.

Psalm 27:

The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? (Verse 1)

The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid. (Verse 1)

One thing I ask of the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. (Verse 4)

In the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will keep me in the shelter of his sacred tent; set me high upon a rock. (Verse 5)

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord: be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Verses 13 and 14)

Mark 6 (When a great wind, storm, threatened the disciples of Jesus…they were in a boat on a lake without him and felt threatened by the storm):

When the disciples saw Him (Jesus) walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they saw him and were terrified. Immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Verses 49-50)

Blessings to you and yours in these days!

Chaplain Dann Caldwell