June 3rd

“Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down”. So goes the song, but in Joshua chapter 3 that part of the story is yet to come (with all its modern difficulties around themes of conquest). First the Israelites must cross the river Jordan – and it’s in flood.

With so many sunny days of late, it is a stretch to cast our minds back to the last times when we saw images of rivers overflowing their banks and warnings about the dangers of entering flood water. Water can be fearsome: “he’s in deep water”; “keeping your head above water”; “out of my depth”; “I’m sinking”.

The Israelites are told to follow the Ark of the Covenant; to keep it in sight. When we’re up against obstacles, going into unknown territory (quite literally for the Israelites!), perhaps we too can try to focus on God’s promises to us?

The priests go ahead with the Ark, until the soles of their feet are wet. Then the waters part, with echoes of Moses and another unexpectedly dry crossing. How might stories or our own experience of God’s help in the past, colour current challenges?

Following on from Pentecost, might we seek anew to be attentive to the Spirit calling us onwards… even though we may fear the metaphorical flood waters? How can we respond to the challenge of the “Enemy of Apathy” (see song by John Bell & Graham Maule) to proceed in a much-changed world? We set out with Jesus’ promise in our ears: “and remember, I am with you always to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 20).

Ruth Allen