The Lord bless you and keep you; may God’s face be made to shine upon you and be gracious unto youNumbers 6:24
One book in the Bible that few people love is Numbers. Tucked in between Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the very name puts off many. But it is about taking a census in the wilderness to discern what to do next. It is about moving forward as God’s people. It took 35 years for our ancestors to do this.
Meanwhile, these days we love numbers. 161 million voters in 2020. 15 months of semi-quarantine. 10 Confirmands at NHCC. 600,000 fellow citizens lost. $1.6 million for a house in the Highlands. $500,000 to run our church. 83% of college professors notice students having mental health challenges this year. 100º outside as I write. We love numbers—and we need them.
In the next 2 months, as we prepare for September, church leaders are working to discern what to do next: how to move forward as God’s people. We are looking into the fall and we are looking into the next five years or so.
This fall we seek to get even better at hybrid worship. This October we may take another vote to determine the future of our Senior Housing project, including whether to continue owning a parsonage. This winter we hope to have an in-person pageant and a crowd at Christmas Eve. And before next June we have to determine how to encourage everyone to “come back,” how to support those injured by the 15 months apart, and those impacted by the mental health concerns that college professors notice and that affect our own parish. We have a lot of work to do.
We also have a good model in Numbers. In the midst of all the analysis comes perhaps the most famous blessing anywhere in scripture. A blessing comes to those taking stock and those moving in God’s direction. It starts as quoted above, and continues, “may God lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
If you know someone who needs their church connection restored, reach out to them—that’s a blessing. If you have wisdom for this fall and winter and beyond, share it (even, join a committee!)—as a blessing. If you are one of God’s beloved affected by the depression and duress of these 15 months, let me know how we can help. And as you run the numbers—as we move to the future, remember we are blessed by God’s keeping and shining and graciousness and peace. Not only is that worth reading, but it’s a reason to love Numbers. And not to take 35 years to share that love.
Peace to you,