This image of Pinchas receiving the brit shalom frightens me, for it reminds me of those who take oppressive, and sometimes violent, actions based on what they believe to be “the will of God.” Just yesterday, the only openly gay member of the Pennsylvania Assembly was not permitted to discuss the issue of same sex marriage on the floor because another member proclaimed that what he wanted to say went against the teaching of God and therefore should not be allowed. It is this type of religious fundamentalism and extremism which has insinuated itself into so much political dialogue that frightens and angers me. And I see these religious zealots as continuing the legacy of Pinchas.
However, we can look at this Covenant of Peace in another way. Rather than being a reward for Pinchas's violent actions, it was a way for God to insure future peace. It signals a change that the actions of Pinchas were no longer acceptable as a way to bring about what people believe to be God's will. But unfortunately, this behavior still exists and is still done in the name of God. And so we must continue to fight to reestablish God's Covenant of Peace for all.
I pray that our nation and our world do their best to see that all people are counted, regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, religions, nationality, race, political beliefs …...and all other identities.
Finally, I pray that we, and our leaders, find the Moses and Joshua within us. Standing on the banks of the river, may we both let go of the past and stop clinging to our egos, in order to allow change to occur. And though we may be unsure of what lies ahead, may we still be ready to carry ourselves and our communities forward through the waters to follow the path of God; a path which ultimately leads to the betterment of our world and all humanity. Amen.