A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the 2011 Rally for the Northern Diocese of the
The service was not the best attended due to its distant location, but we still filled a high school stadium with many highly energetic ELCSA members. Most of the service was conducted in Sepedi even though there were also Tswanas and
The theme of the rally was “ELCSA: My Responsibility,” and as the pastor started speaking, he used the famous words of JFK to set the tone- “Ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country.” And what can we do for the church? What can we do for God? The speaker then went on to say that we should do our best to bring God’s people to the land of milk and honey. People so often preach and speak on the gospel that often times the Old Testament kind of gets sidelined as irrelevant to our current times. Consequently, when we read about Moses leading God’s chosen people to the land of milk and honey, we view it as a historical documentation of what happened in the past and rarely take it past surface value to figure out what this can mean to us in the present day.
So what dos the land of milk and honey mean to us? Why use milk and honey to represent the Promised Land? Let’s start with milk- milk provides us with necessary vitamins to help us grow strong. It is nourishing, life-sustaining, strengthening, and calming. As for honey- it provides us with a natural sweetness which can sweeten even the most bitter or bland things in life. Both milk and honey are given to us in this world as products of God’s creation. They are not from us, but rather from God. Let’s bring God’s people to a land where they will be strengthened, nourished, sustained, and sweetened by something which God has given us.
Jesus is the milk and honey of life, given to us and for us by God. Coming to the “land” of Jesus involves us living in Jesus Christ and letting him dwell in us. Once we enter the “land” of togetherness, we come to know and understand God who strengthens and sweetens us and gives us eternal life. “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3. When we enter into the land of milk and honey, we enter into the
But how can we bring others to the kingdom when we ourselves have not tasted it? During the sermon, the pastor pulled out a bottle of honey and jug of milk. He then proceeded to share it with the bishops, who then shared it with the deans, who then shared it with the pastors, who then shared it with their congregations. In order to share the kingdom with others, you must first receive it. You can not teach without first learning, you can not give without first receiving- which is potentially one of the hardest and most meaningful lessons I have learned this year, and is something that South Africans do very well.
When you enter into someone’s house in
However, this South African culture of giving and receiving means much more than just food. This hospitality and welcoming is a portrayal of God’s love, and it’s contagious. The more you receive from others, the more you want to give- to both return the love and spread it to others. I think
~Heather Anne Nelson