Mutuality in Spirituality
Scripture: Exodus 19:1-8
Standing at the altar. An engaged couple in love. Exchanging of sacred vows, rings, and glances. This couple will leave joined by God in holy marriage. Their whole lives ahead of them. The real work and joy of marriage yet to come. This couple is every bit as married as they will be ten, twenty or forty years later, but the depth of their union will have hopefully flourished, and strengthened. There will be many hard times. Questions will abound surrounding family, health, finances, and desires. Some arguments and misunderstandings will shake this couple to their core.
Most couples choose to get married in some kind of public setting. Some want a small gathering of close family or friends, while others opt for a large congregation of everyone they ever knew. Those gathered are witnessing the covenant of marriage, but they have also been invited to support it in years to come. They will be shoulders to cry upon, and hands bringing covered dishes. They will be called upon as listening ears, babysitters, prayer intercessors, and party throwers. A lifelong commitment requires lots of intentionality, and care from both the couple and those who walk with them in life.
Our spirituality flourishes when it has the support of people in our lives. It is easy to listen to the inspiring podcast, read the bestselling book, or come back from life changing conference with every cell in your being vibrating with a sense of excitement and expectancy. I’ve lost track of how many times I was sure that sermon, trip, book, or event had changed everything. Mostly they usually just shook up my spirituality like a soda can for a little while. Allow some time to pass and the fizz and pressure dies down and everything goes back to normal.
Lately I’m learning if I want to cultivate a spirituality for the long term, then I need the support of others. It’s no good just to do my spirituality in the presence of others. I have to risk the vulnerability of allowing trusted companions to see me at my worst. I have to set aside the cliches and get honest and curious about my spiritual journey. I need people who are patient, loving, honest, hopeful, and who can bring a bit of humor.
In the Story of Exodus, God enters into a covenant with the Hebrew people. Moses is coming off of the literal mountain top high of having spoken with God and goes back to the people. The dream is for them to become a “kingdom of priests,” and a “holy nation.” But they will have to mutually be involved in this covenant. God is the initiator, but God is asking them to participate with God in the realization of God’s dream in the world.
The people have already stumbled in the desert when they were hungry and thirsty. So this covenant isn’t initiated because of their worthiness or moral performance. They have made mistakes and will likely make many more. They will betray one another and betray God. Yet God desires for them to be “my treasured possession.” So God invites them into a covenant of mutuality. It will have many enlightening highs and heart wrenching lows. And they enter this covenant together. Supporting, uplifting, and encouraging one another. “We will do everything Yahweh has said.” This is a response to all God is and all God is doing. Because when Yahweh speaks worlds are created.