The Bridge Across the Stream

Lisa Allgood, Executive Presbyter

Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.                                                                                                                Joshua 3:15-17

Did you realize there actually aren’t any real bridges in the Old Testament…?  Think of all the stories of someone crossing water – the Red Sea, the Jordan…  they had to stop the water and cross with God’s providence on dry land.  That crossing was almost always into a land unknown, with things and people and events ahead of the people to conquer – including their own fear.

The Jordan River

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”                                                                                                                                                                              Joshua 4:5-7

When the refugees from Egypt crossed into the Promised Land with Joshua for the very first time, they set up 12 stones of remembrance.  These stones can be found in Israel in several places, always marking a place where something of remembrance – something holy – happened. This photo is actually in Gilgal, near Jericho, but is one of the spots still marked by those ancient remembrances.

Gilgal Stones

These stones mark a bridge of a different kind of course – the bridge of God’s Hand in our lives as we cross from wilderness to new opportunity, from fear to love, from exile to belonging. 

May we find such bridges this New Year – a year of opportunity, blessings, and the realization that Emmanuel is always still with us.