You shall further command the Israelites to bring you pure oil of beaten olives for the light, so that a lamp may be set up to burn regularly. In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that is before the covenant,[a] Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before the Lord. It shall be a perpetual ordinance to be observed throughout their generations by the Israelites.
Walking in the early morning beats the heat. 5:30am. It doesn’t beat the humidity but it beats the heat. Since Planet Fitness is closed, I don’t have the luxury of air conditioned comfort to do my cardio during the summer. An afternoon walk a month ago nearly killed me. I got back to the house nearly comatose. So I’ve been walking early. There are a few others with the same thinking as me. In the darkness, it’s always amazing to me how much one light shines. When the dawn begins, it’s also amazing how quickly the darkness is dispelled by the light.
The final chapters of Exodus relate to the building of the tabernacle. Since the Bible is a book of faith, you would naturally expect that it would spend a lot of time and space on the trappings of faith. How the tabernacle would be built. How the priests would be consecrated. (They ate pretty well for seven days!) And in the middle of it all, the light was brought in. Pure olive oil (I guess it was not butter or chipotle or blood orange infused) was to be used. Maybe that’s extra virgin olive oil. (If you don’t cook, you’re clueless as to what I’m saying.) And that fire was to be lit...and tended by the priest...and would never go out.
Good things have always been associated with light and evil things have been associated with darkness. What is fearsome at night is revealed in the day. And when the tabernacle was erected at each stop of the wandering Hebrew camps, the light was always there. It was a reminder that God was always there. It told the people the priests were doing their job. It was important. It was pure olive oil.
Our nation is in darkness. We’re in a darkness of COVID. It has spawned the darkness of unemployment, the darkness of politics, the darkness of mistrust, the darkness of our personal relationships. There is the darkness of hatred, the darkness of racism, and the darkness of those who say there is no racism. Part of my work now is calling pastors in two of our districts to check on them. Young pastors. Old pastors. Even older-than-me pastors. We’re trying to bring some light to them.
There is the darkness of waiting. Waiting for relief. Waiting for a serum. Waiting for a sign that things are turning around. Waiting for some kind of light in the darkness. Waiting for the time when we can again embrace one another, when we can greet each other with touch, when we can stand closer to one another in joy, in solidarity, in peace, and (especially) in sadness. In the church of Jesus Christ, we bear a light unlike any other. We bear the light of hope. We bear the light of peace. We bear the light of love.
We are the priests. Keep the light burning.
O Light of light, shine in. Cast out this night of sin.
Create true day within; O Light of light, shine in.
O Light, all light excelling, Make my heart thy dwelling;
O Joy, all grief dispelling, to my poor heart come in.
Pastor Rick Moser