One time we opened a kitchen cabinet and a snake fell out. Well, looky there!
A sight to see!
A little thing. It had a diamond pattern. It rattled its tail. I thought it was a baby rattler, turns out it was just a juvenile black rat snake.
They imitate rattlesnakes, pretty good at it too. I found it a good home…somewhere else.
Then there was that gianormous King Snake caught in the netting around the blueberry bush.
A sight to see!
That one didn’t go so well.
We all have snake stories.
So does the Bible.
Some of the stories turn out fine, others not so much.

Now the serpent was craftier than any other wild animal…sound familiar? Genesis chapter three, that’s where it first shows up, tempting Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. That one didn’t turn out so well for anybody, especially the snake.
Then Moses had his staff that he would throw down and it would turn into a serpent, the beginning of his face off with Pharaoh. That one was a good one, the beginning of deliverance from the house of bondage.

Then there is today: the poisonous serpents. Earlier English translations called them fiery serpents.
The people of Israel despaired of ever getting out of the wilderness and they spoke against God and Moses, so a plague of serpents afflicted them.
They prayed for deliverance and God commanded Moses to make his own serpent out of bronze, to lift it up, to exalt it, for all to see and live.
Look and live, visual anti-venom, like the ocular reception of the sacrament, feasting our eyes. Well, looky there!
A sight to see!
That one started out bad but ended up pretty good.

Jesus calls himself a snake, like Moses’ serpent, to be lifted up, exalted, that all who believe will live. I guess that makes us snake handlers, lifting up Jesus for all to see, to look and live.

God’s snake stories: taking a bad situation and making something good out of it.
That says something important about who God is and who we are to be.
Turning a plague of snakes into deliverance from evil.
Turning the cross into the tree of life.
Darkness into light.
Curse into blessing.
Venom into anti-venom.
Death into life.
The dark secrets of the night into the bright clarity of the day.

I suppose the whole of the Bible could be looked at as one long slithery snake story, bringing something good out of something bad.
We all have that choice, don’t we? Every moment and every breath. Do we disarm the bomb or throw more gas on the fire?
For some God is all about hurting people, sending poisonous serpents.
I think they miss the whole point of the story.
God brings deliverance. That is what God is all about.
We all have snake stories.
Do we bring something good out of it?
That is the supreme act faith, of living faith, of believing, of looking and living, of looking at Jesus and being brought back to life.
There is nothing really new or interesting about snake bites, passing the bite and the poison along, again and again, and…again…
What is interesting and where we find God is when the bite is answered with blessing.
It is Lent, it is all about sin, and how boring, predictable and repetitive sin is.
It is Lent, it is really all about something new happening, about bringing good out of bad, something strange, surprising and wonderful. Well, looky there!
That is God’s snake story. A sight to see!
Feast your eyes.
Look and live.