Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp; he called it the tent of meeting. - Exodus 33:7 (NRSV)
I was reassured when I read recently about my “type” in a new-ish book on the Enneagram. “Fives,” it said, “don’t like meetings.”
It’s true. I’m not that big on meetings. But as a minister and a church person, I have been to my share. Some are necessary, even helpful. Some not so much.
But in the Exodus passage, “meeting” is used in a different sense. To go to “the tent of meeting,” which Moses pitched outside camp, was what you did if you were seeking God, if your desire was to meet or be met by the living God, which as the Bible says elsewhere, is “a dangerous thing.”
There’s an old-timey expression for going to church: “going to meeting.” Means the same as it meant in Exodus and for Moses. Going to meet my God.
I’ve read that the early Congregationalists were sometimes called “the people of the meeting.” That wasn’t because they had as many meetings as we modern church people tend to. It was because they believed God’s will could best be discerned in the gathered community, among siblings in faith. For them, a meeting wasn’t that different than worship. The point was to seek, to meet, and to be met by, God.
My hunch is that our many meetings might be redeemed, or at least different, if we entertained the notion that when we gather our main reason for meeting together is to encounter God and to seek God’s will and way.
Of course, they might also be dangerous.
Redeem, we pray, our meetings so that we might meet you in every one of them. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. He is the author of many books, including What’s Theology Got to Do With It: Convictions, Vitality and the Church. You can read Tony's "Weekly Meditation" and "What's Tony Thinking?" at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.