I’m not a leader; I’m an elder. I don’t lead; I provide moral covering.
You’ll find plenty of biblical references to the symbol of “covering for sins.” It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden and the Fall. In their innocence, Adam and Eve had no sin to cover. Once they ate of the Forbidden Fruit, their sins were apparent to themselves and they came up with a form of covering that might be okay in the Garden, but would serve no useful purpose once they were driven out. They needed a covering that God provided, and it came at the price of blood.
The symbolism is what we are after here. It rested on symbols common throughout the Ancient Near East (ANE). Somebody has to sacrifice, to shed blood so that we can reclaim the available measure of Edenic living that God allows. It takes sacrificing whatever we think we have in this life to reclaim what we could and should have under God’s covering. Returning to Eden means facing the Flaming Sword of revelation.
He revealed that His covering includes a certain amount of sacrifice by people appointed for the role. It’s a burden that requires a strength only God can provide. For an elder, it’s not a choice. It’s a role chosen by God, though it is rather predictable. It follows established protocols.
If you observe that my life is blessed and seems like a taste of Eden, then you can grab a share of my blessing by coming under my covering. The purpose is not to boost my domain, but to justify having one in the first place. The whole purpose of moral dominion is to provide incubation for other folks who should become elders themselves. I’m propagating my blessing. I’m providing the covering you need long enough and strong enough for you to grow into that role on your own terms before the Lord.
So it’s not a permanent arrangement. And while literal progeny don’t have a lot of choice in who their first elder is, they are always free to run out from under his moral covering and face things on their own. Of course, if they simply stick around and refuse to obey, they will be punished as a means to awakening the awareness of sin’s costs. An elder cannot allow anyone to threaten the covering. Elders were empowered under the Covenant of Noah to execute those who pushed too far, too long, in threatening the covering and refusing to take their sin outside the household.
That’s a symbol of how the church was supposed to operate. It was your moral family household, never mind physical DNA. But here at Kiln of the Soul, we have to reinterpret that for the virtual world. We can’t hug, for example. And we really can’t get to know each other that well personally, though some of you have caught on how to make the most of what’s possible. So there are some of you who cling to my moral covering with a strong kinship despite the geographical distance.
It’s not possible on a purely psychological level. It only works when we share communion on a higher plane. We are trans-dimensional people. We don’t cease being humans, but we have an added component that trumps everything else about us. This alone is capable of making a virtual parish work. Without this higher faculty, there is almost nothing I can do to provide covering. But if you can tolerate what comes with embracing me as elder, then it’s a sure thing you’ll be covered under my shalom of divine moral blessings.
So I’m not here on this blog giving directions. I do set limits, but that’s the definition of covering. You can wander off as you see fit. God knows: What works for me may not work for you. Still, you’ll have to find your own dominion or suffer the loss of some of my blessings. And as long as you stay close, you’ll always be liable to suffer my sorrows, because none of us is perfect. Still, I’m hoping to see you take to your own wings sooner or later. You can keep on bringing your strength back to this virtual parish, but it means sacrificing some things in order to keep things under my covering.
In that sense, perhaps we can redefine the meaning of “leader” and “leading,” but because of the cultural baggage, I would still avoid those terms.