Today’s Readings: Ezekiel 1 & Mark 16:9-19
Like me, I suspect there are experiences in your life when, even many years later you can clearly recall every detail of a moment in time … in the twenty second year, in the sixth month, on the twenty third day, with extreme joy and after a long and painful labour, I delivered our first baby, a son into the world … to the point of memory that I can not only draw you a plan and describe in detail the room but even quote some of the conversation. Even though this took place nearly 34 years ago, so profound was the experience of entering motherhood everything about that moment is etched deeply into my memory.
And so too as we start our journey in the opening chapters of Ezekiel with the first of many oracles or prophesy, Ezekiel the priest describes such an incredible visionary experience; a vision of fearsome creatures and their accompanying wheel-like attendants, explained in such fine detail and using descriptive language of relative comparison …. a vision that was so powerful, it must have left a life-long imprint on Ezekiel’s mind.
But when Ezekiel attempts to describe the vision of the Lord, he falls facedown awestruck …
‘This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and heard the voice of one speaking.’ Chap 1:28b
As we read about the experiences of God’s prophets – not just Ezekiel – one can’t help but grasp how difficult and at times lonely the task of delivering God’s message would have been.
‘The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the Lord on me. I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Abib near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living I sat among them for seven days – overwhelmed.’ Ezekiel 3:14-15
No wonder Ezekiel sat stunned, speechless, dazed, overawed … not just a vision which caused him to fall face down, but in the ensuring chapters, added to this is Ezekiel’s message he is called as a prophet to share with the Israelites living in exile; an appointment by God himself. But now I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe like me you found it difficult to stop at the end of Chapter 1, wanting to discover what it was, Ezekiel heard!
I wonder how many times I limit my vision of God; the vision of who he is revealed throughout the whole of scripture that I too can’t help but fall to my knees because of his glory and majesty?
In the vision that is only just starting to unfold in Chapter 1, God gave Ezekiel a gift to sustain him in his calling. God too has given us a gift to sustain and encourage us through whatever might unfold in our lives.
At the end of Marks gospel, the risen Jesus appeared to a number of people; not a ‘vision’ but one who had defeated death! For the disciples, they found it a challenge to believe ‘those who had seen him after he had risen …’ vs14b The gift of life eternal through believing in the risen Lord, is the free gift that sustains; the truth of scripture which provides a majestic vision the glory of God!
Finally, I have always found the Psalms a great encouragement for sustaining me, especially the intimate and very personal vision of God in Psalm 121;
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Lord I pray you sustain and strengthen me this day. Give me a fresh vision of you today, through your word and through those you bring across my path, helping me not to be blind to seeing your majesty and glory in the everyday. Amen