Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Blogging toward Sunday

This Sunday, in the sermon series "God's Grace in the Life of ____," we examine our final Old Testament character and what a character he is.  Of all people in the Hebrew Scriptures, Moses seems larger than life.  At the time of his birth the people of Israel have become slaves in Egypt, but even with increased oppression their numbers grow.  So much so that Pharaoh orders the Hebrew midwives to kill all Hebrew boys when they are born. But the midwives fear God more than Pharaoh so they do not obey the king. When Moses is born his mother takes great pains to protect him, hiding him for 3 months and then setting him afloat in a basket on the river. So, as a baby, Moses sets out on a journey that will take him to alarming depths and amazing heights.

When you think of Moses, what comes to mind?  Do you imagine the baby on the bank of the river being saved by none other than the daughter of Pharaoh?  Do you imagine him as he is described in our reading for Sunday from Exodus 3:1-22?  It’s the scene of the burning bush when Moses is commanded to stand barefooted before Yahweh, on holy ground. Perhaps you remember Moses making a few house calls to Pharaoh that result in plagues and miracles but no release for God’s people, until things get so bad Pharaoh is eager to see them go. Or what about the parting of the Red Sea when, at God’s command, Moses raises his staff, stretches out his hand over the sea, and the water is divided so that the Israelites pass over on dry ground?  When you think of Moses, what comes to mind? Do you think of him as a man on a journey?  

Moses has quite a life walking with his God, but he isn’t always a saint. Throughout Scripture, Moses’ humanity is displayed, particularly when, in anger, he murders an Egyptian who is beating one of his kinfolk. This crime causes Moses to make a run for it. He runs all the way to Midian where he becomes a shepherd. But out of a burning bush, God will call him to a new life as a shepherd of another flock, God’s people. It’s interesting to note that Moses is none too happy about this new vocation. He tries to bargain with God—five times!  No, Moses is not an easy recruit. But God has heard the cry of the people of Israel and God will respond to oppression and injustice.

God works in mysterious ways—in the life of Moses, in the life of the saints of Scripture and in the life of us all.  As I journey toward Sunday, there are many ideas and questions that fill my mind. That day in the wilderness, God meets Moses where he is. How is that true in our faith story? If the burning bush represents that holy place where we meet God, where is the burning bush for each of us? The fact that God works in the world to right injustice is clearly displayed in Sunday’s text. How do we as individuals work to right injustice? How do we do so as a church?

Moses is a man who seems larger than life. Yet he has much to teach the people of the Way, Christians who continue this amazing journey. He has much to teach us about what is required of us—to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. 

I look forward to your comments and to seeing you in worship on Sunday.

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