Friday, March 16, 2012

Lent 4b - Conclusion

In 1975 I was the wrangler at Camp Lone Star in LaGrange, Texas. Through the course of the summer I encountered any number of snakes, including a two foot red and yellow and black one that next to the copperheads and cotton mouths I saw everyday looked harmless enough. So I went to pick it up. Of course it bit me at which point I wished some Texan would have told me “red and yellow kill a fellow; red and black venom lack.” At that moment I did not think of putting a Coral snake on a pole and looking at it. Instead I killed it and showed it to the Camp Director whose reaction suggested this was not his first rodeo with kids from Chicago who do dumb things like pick up snakes in Texas. After a wild ride to Brackenridge Hospital in Austin and a dose of anti-venom I returned to camp 36 hours later with a snake skin and a story. The snake on a pole story in Numbers reminded the people that there is a consequence for complaining but also a remedy. In the same way the Psalm recounts the stories of Israel’s rebellion and redemption. Following the ways of the world is a punishment in and of itself while the free gift of grace comes at no cost to you but great cost to Christ. And in the Gospel Jesus comes to complete God’s story and ours. He is not a snake on a pole but he is the anti-venom for death itself so that we might know the life that is eternal in our everyday. But that being true if you happen to be out and about in your everyday and see a snake whatever you do, don't pick it up. 

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