‘Life’s a journey, not a destination’ – thoughts on Deuteronomy from @changingworship

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the Plain—that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees—as far as Zoar. The Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.”

Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord’s command. He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day. Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated. The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended.

Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Deuteronomy 34:1-9

What a rollercoaster Moses rides. From the pitch covered basket placed in the reeds at the Nile to the Pharoah’s court. From the lap of luxury in the Pharoah’s court to the desert fleeing from the charge of murder. From the desert he marries Zipporah. From shepherd to the presence of God at the bush that burns without being consumed.

Let my people go.

The Israelites are led though the Red Sea into the desert. From the desert to the mountain. Trials and tribulations. Ups and downs. Highs and lows.

A real community experience. But after forty years in the desert Moses is taken from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah.

“Here’s what you could have won”.

I have been part of the Christian community in North Halifax for six months so far and I pray that I’ll be here for many years. There has been Christian community on these hills for just over five hundred years. This community has had many highs and lows. We have had both ups and downs. Over the years we have built and we have knocked down. We have had grand openings and endings as things run their natural course. As community we have worked out for five hundred years how to be good news in this area.

As mortal beings, we each have a finite journey towards the promised land. Moses passed the baton on to Joshua who was ‘full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the Lord had commanded Moses’. A faithful Christian community, in whatever form it takes, is one that walks as followers of the Way. As we journey together we invite others to join that journey with us. We raise others up and faithfully pass the baton on to them.

As a Christian it can often feel as though we don’t get to see the fruits of our labour. Moses did not get to see Jerusalem established nor the temple built. Whilst Moses is hailed as the catalyst, he spent most of his time being frustrated by the people he was leading. We cannot always know the true impact of our part of the journey.

Will I see the promised land or will I gaze upon it from afar? Will they bury me in an unmarked grave? I pray that the wonderful, diverse Christian community with a history of 500 years will continue to pass on the baton in 500 years time, retelling our story faithfully to a new generation.

As a wise man once said: ‘Life’s a journey, not a destination. And you just can’t tell, just what tomorrow brings‘.

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About Robb

Robb is a priest and a vicar in the Church of England. His academic interest is in liturgy, alt:worship and the emerging church and is particularly keen on exploring the sacramantal within worship. He lives in Yorkshire and has a passion for heavy metal, playing in a pub band and riding a Harley.