March 2021

March 2021


“Take your sandals off, you are standing on holy ground.”

Joshua 5.14,15


Before the People of Israel cross the Jordan into the Promised Land, they send spies to find out what it was like. The report that came back was good, but included the sinister news that, after fording the Jordan, between them and their goal, were giants and, even worse, a walled city. Here was something utterly new to them and baffling. No one among the people knew how to build a wall – let alone attack one. Joshua, their leader, is new to it all too.


They all cross the Jordan and the first obstacle in the conquest is indeed a daunting one: there is the city of Jericho, walled, defended and barred. It is at this point that Joshua looks up and suddenly sees the ‘Commander of the Lord’s Army’. The figure before him is an angel.


The most important matter of all is the presence of God himself as the progress into the Promised Land is made. Here is a clear reference to the appearance of God to Moses at the burning bush where God says to Moses, as he does here, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy’.


Seeing the angel, Joshua knows that God is with him and the people in what they have to do. He prostrates himself in awe and wonder and in worship. At this critical moment he is touched by the presence of God himself: the angel speaks. The place, the ground, the very land where they are standing is set apart for God’s people. It is ‘holy’.


We come to our times of prayer not to invade as Joshua was doing but rather to listen in a time of stillness and silence and contemplation. As we come, among our feelings are those of awe and wonder. What will take place is an encounter between the ordinary and the extraordinary; between the human and the divine; between the superficial and the deep; between that which is easily explained and the mysterious things of God.


Wherever you are praying, the place becomes holy ground. The presence of God is there: here it is that the angel speaks to you….


A Watchword might be “You stand on holy ground”