Peace, be still….God is with us, fear not.

19 02 2011

DAY FIFTY – Exodus 25 v. 1 – 26 v. 37; Mark 4 v. 30 – 5 v. 20; Psalm 23 v. 1 – 6

The Tabernacle – everyone contributes something for the sanctuary – different coloured cloths, animal skins, wood, oil, spices, stones and gems – “and I will dwell among them”.
The Ark – a chest of acacia wood, gold covered, poles to transport it, to contain the Testament; an atonement cover, again gold-plated, with a golden cherub at either end; “there, above the cover….between the cherubim…I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.”
The Table
– slightly smaller than the Ark; also gold-plated, and with poles to transport it; all the plates and bowls etc. to be made of gold; “Put the bread of the Presence on this table to before me at all times.”
The Lampstand – gold, of course; three branches either side, with three flowers on each; more flowers on the stand under each pair of branches; God provides the pattern for them, and instructs that all the lamps, trimmers and trays be made of pure gold.

The Tabernacle –  ten curtains (blue, purple and scarlet twisted linen); loops and clasps to fasten them together to make the tabernacle one unit; eleven goat-hair curtains fastened together to go over the tabernacle (with a front piece); two extra coverings for the tent (one of ram skins, one of sea cows;
Upright frames of acacia wood; frames and bases as specified; crossbars of acacia wood; everything overlaid with gold; another curtain (blue, purple and scarlet twisted linen) to separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (which contains the Ark of the Testimony and atonement cover); the table is for outside (north) the curtain, with the lampstand the opposite side (south) of the curtain; an entrance curtain (same colours) is added, too.

For the forty years travelling the wilderness, the tabernacle is entirely portable, and symbolises the presence of God in the midst of His people (previously on top of the mountain).

Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed – the Kingdom of God may appear small to us at first, but like the smallest seed, it will grow into the largest of all garden plants, shading birds from the heat; parables are a major teaching tool for Jesus, giving people something to think about, to work out; Jesus fills the disciples in on the meanings, when He has them alone.
Jesus calms the storm – Jesus sleeps as a violent storm chops up the waters on Galilee; when woken, He simply speaks, “Quiet! (Peace) Be still !”. The wind dies down and it’s calm. The disciples had asked if hadn’t cared they were about to drown. Jesus asks why they have such little faith. The disciples are still trying to work out exactly who Jesus is, “even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Healing the demon-possessed man – Jesus and the disciples encounter a very strong possessed man; he falls at Jesus’ feet and the evil spirit begs Jesus not to torture it; Jesus commands the spirit to leave the man, but asks its name – “Legion”, indicating many spirits, comes the reply. The demons are sent into a herd of pigs, as they, themselves request; (interesting that Jesus gives permission for them to enter the pigs – the demons are under Jesus’ authority at this point).
The pigs drown in the lake.
The people plead with Jesus to leave them alone, when the story is told of all that has happened.
The healed man wants to go with Jesus, but He tells him to stay and tell his story (in a place which had sent Jesus away; whilst Jesus tries to silence people amidst places where His renown is spreading fast). All who hear the man’s story are amazed.

Perhaps the most loved of all the psalms, speaking of the protection and peace God grants to those He shepherds and guides in life. Even the shadow of death, the dark valley, can be endured without fear, “for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
I love the promise in v. 5 and 6 of the banquet being prepared by the Lord Himself, the anointing with oil which is upon us, the goodness and mercy which attend us all through our lives, and the promise of dwelling with God, in His house, for ever.

My recreated thoughts:
The pastoral picture of being led by quiet waters (not the stormy waters, as in our gospel reading today), and our souls being restored (caring as much about the detail of our lives, our souls, as the detail of the tabernacle in our Exodus readings), is a beautiful one.

To the troubled waters – Peace, be still
To the tortured mind – Peace, be still
To the gathered community – Peace, be still
To the lone walker – Peace, be still
To our fears and distresses – Peace, be still
To all creation – Peace, be still