Guide Our Feet, Lord…

by Christine Sine

Rocky Mountains - Michael Moore

by Michael Moore

On Thanksgiving Day, Denise and I took my son Alec on a hike in the Rocky Mountain National Park. The drive into the park was “interesting” as it was snowing and had been snowing for some time. The road was slick and it had been years since I had driven in those conditions. Despite some ice, getting slightly stuck (Alec, who lives in Minnesota, offered to drive for a bit and got me out of the icy spot), and snowy weather, we were not disappointed with the trip! Alec got to see some Elk and Deer as we drove along. And we had a wonderful hike up to Cub Lake along a snowy trail. The above picture was taken from the trail.

One thing I noticed while we were hiking was the difference between hiking in RMNP during the fall where you can see all the rocks and uneven bits of ground and hiking in the winter when you aren’t able to see the obstacles. As I snapped pictures, mused about life and the mountains, and walked; I found myself focusing intently on my footsteps.

A week later I was reflecting not only on the hike, but on the concept of footsteps and the Sunday’s Gospel reading. Luke 1:76-79 especially hit close to home for me. “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The context of this passage is the story of the birth of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin.  After John was born, his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and offered this prophesy concerning his son. In the prophecy, he spoke of the coming Messiah AND of his young son’s role in preparing the way for the Messiah. Verses 78-79 are especially familiar to me from years of using various daily prayer orders.

From my use over the years of the Roman Catholic Breviary (Liturgy of the Hours) and the Presbyterian Church (USA) Daily Prayer Book, these words have been ingrained into my heart and soul. “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Canticle/Song of Zechariah from PC(USA) Daily Prayer)

The previous week’s Gospel reading from Luke was all about the apocalyptic vision which Jesus shared with his disciples. I really struggled with that imagery as I worked on my sermon for that Sunday. Zechariah’s prophecy is a breath of fresh air compared to the doom and gloom from last Sunday. However, it doesn’t avoid the doom and gloom. After all, Zechariah said God will send the Messiah so that “we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us.” (verse 71 NLT) However, there is a reason that the people will be saved. That reason will NOT be to carry out acts of retribution on their enemies.  “We have been rescued from our enemies so that we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.” (verses 74-75 NLT)

On September 11, 2001, Denise’s oldest came home from school and shared what others had been saying after the attacks on New York City and Washington, DC. “We should just go over there and nuke them all.” Needless to say, they had a long talk about the matter and he realized that this wish for blood-lust and vengeance was not right. I remember hearing similar statements being made by military members in Nevada as we secured the perimeter at Indian Springs Auxiliary Air Field and wondered what would happen next. Yes, I thought of the fact, and shared with those members, that not every person who lived in Afghanistan was the enemy and that HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of innocent people would die if we did that. Fourteen years and multiple war-zones later, warfare has not brought an end to terrorism. In fact, I would say that it has only increased the size and the scope of those who hate the U.S.

Last week was another week of tragedy as a mass shooting unfolded in San Bernardino, California. Early in the morning on the same day as the San Bernardino shooting, a gunman killed one woman and injured three men in Savannah, Georgia. Last week it was Colorado making the news with the massacre at the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs.

In addition to looking at the Middle East and what is going on with the Islamic State (the name is an offense to the countless decent followers of Islam that I know personally as far as I am concerned) we look to our own nation. Violence doesn’t solve anything. It only leads to more violence. As Jesus said in the garden on the night when he was arrested, “Put away your sword… Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)

If ever there was a time when we need a prophet to give God’s people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins and to guide our feet into the way of peace, isn’t that time now? My prayers this Advent season are a mixture of seeking the guidance that the Lord offers to all who would follow the Prince of Peace and seeking how to respond as a Christ-follower in times of such darkness and violence. It is especially needed as I hear/read/see so-called Christians (yes, lower case is intentional) who have blood-lust in their hearts and cry for retribution or take up the sword literally against any who don’t follow their way.

Will you join me, dear reader, in this quest? Will you join me as s I pray for the dawn from on high to break upon us as we dwell in darkness and the shadow of death?


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Mary Ellen Robertson December 10, 2015 - 7:42 pm

In gratitude for your wisdom shining through in the midst of this great challenge,. I join you in prayer. May the Angels sing and pray with us.

Michael Moore March 25, 2016 - 1:35 pm

Thank you, Mary Ellen <3

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