Today’s Bible reading
Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar.Then he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and behold, the water was trickling out on the south side.
Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” – Ezekiel 47:1-6
More thoughts for meditation
Rod Dreher ends his book with an important question. “How do we navigate the arks we build safely between the twin illusions of false optimism and exaggerated fear?” He is drawn to another image from the scripture that balances the ark story.
“God granted the Prophet Ezekiel a vision of the restored Holy City of Jerusalem. In the vision, a mysterious man leads the prophet into a rebuilt Temple. Ezekiel sees a stream of water issuing forth from the altar, flowing out of its openings and into the world outside. It deepens and widens the farther it spreads from the Temple, until it has become a river that no one can cross. Everywhere this water flows, abundant life follows.
The traditional Christian interpretation of Ezekiel’s vision holds that it was fulfilled on Pentecost, when God poured out the Holy Spirit on the gathered disciples, inaugurating a new era with the birth of the church. Through the church – the restored Temple – would flow the living waters of salvific grace.
The church, then is both Ark and Wellspring – and Christians must live in both realities. God gave us the Ark of the church to keep us from drowning in the raging flood. But he also gave us the church as a place to drown our old selves symbolically in the water of baptism and to grow a new life, nourished by the never-ending torrent of His grace. You cannot live the Benedict Option without seeing both visions simultaneously.”
Suggestions for action
Dreher gives us a final exhortation: “Love is the only way we will make it through what is to come. Love is not romantic ecstasy. It has to be a kind of love that has been honed and intensified through regular prayer, fasting, and repentance….And it must be a love that has been refined through suffering. There is no other way.” Do the Holy Spirit and you agree with him?
We don’t call it the “Benedict Option,” but Dreher could have been writing about our alternativity and our prophetic life made up of our covenant people, the “regular Joes and Janes” who God has called together to form a circle of hope in a sometimes hostile world. Each cell is a face to face community, each congregation a statement of something next, the whole church an ark and a wellspring. Does God inspire you to renew your efforts to be a part and do you part?
Pray for the church, Circle of Hope, in particular. What are the five main things you want to see well up within it and flood over into the Philadelphia region?