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March 8, 2019

by Brad Scott

Scripture Reading:  Psalm 91: 1-2, 9-16; Exodus 6: 1-13; Acts 7: 35-42 
 
“You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.”  (Psalm 91: 13) 
 
All throughout Holston Conference you can find the presence of little churches (not Methodist ones, at least so far as I know), where the people who worship there use snakes.  I’m not that far from Sand Mountain, Alabama, where I serve now, but I’ve also been within easy distance of Jolo, West Virginia, “The Doubles” outside Honaker, and places in Lee County I’m still finding out about.  The worship life of snake handlers includes a moment when the boxes are opened up and the creatures are taken out and lifted up in the church.  This practice has always fascinated me, but I want to go on record saying I haven’t attended one of these, I’m just going by second-hand information.  But I have been present at Camp Buffalo Mountain when a staff person there took “Conrad” out of the glass box and let the kids touch him.  Different use, and different purpose entirely.   
 
What is it about snakes that frighten us so?  Is it the Garden of Eden story?  Is it the possible danger of being bitten by a poisonous one?  Is it just the whole scaly-skin, forked tongue, slithery movement?  Something about snakes bothers us. 
 
That’s why Teresa of Avila wrote in The Interior Castle that snakes were representative of evil.  They cause us to lose sight of the power of God offered to us through Jesus Christ.  Is it any wonder God used a snake-become-staff to test Moses as he was being sent to tell Pharoah to release the captives in Egypt? 
 
Throughout these days of Lent, we will encounter the snakes of our own spiritual lives.  The psalmist reminds us that God gives us power to trample them, defeating the power they represent in our lives.  God tells us plenty of times in the scriptures to “fear not.”  God promises to replace our fear with “holy confidence.”   
 
Where do you need to drive out fear from your spirit? 
 
Prayer:  Lord of life, and creator of all that creeps and crawls on earth:  bless us with the grace of being fearless in the face of evil.  Help us to draw near to you and to take authority over the forces of darkness.  May the light of Christ enable us to envision a future when we are not afraid to confront injustice and can rest confidently in your abiding Love and grace.  These things we pray in the name of your blessed son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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