The imperceptible helping presence of God

A sermon for Proper 21

Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16, Philippians 2:1-13, Matthew 21:23-32

So last week it was some two and a half months into their wilderness journey when the Israelites began to complain about the lack of breakfast and dinner. This morning, well we don’t know how long it’s been. I looked at a map that marks the Exodus journey, and it’s near as far from Sin to Rephidim, as it is from the sea to Sin. That wasn’t much help, because we really don’t know where Rephidim nor Sin actually are. We do know Horeb and Sinai are the same place. The Bible tells us that in chapter 19 they get to Saini, so if they don’t get to Sanai until then, how do they draw water at Horeb/Saini in chapter 17, as we read today? Cartographers are scratching their heads. Theologians remind us “Hey – Horeb means mountain of God.” (Hoezee) essentially: this is where God is. And since Israel is asking “Is God with us or not?” let’s not worry about there where of this mystery, let’s learn from what’s happening.

For the third time since their departure Israel faces extreme thirst hunger (Ex 16:1) or thirst (Ex 15:25). Before they complained. Today they quarrel. Quarreling does more than raise the emotional level. The root of ‘quarrel’ is a legal dispute. (Portier-Young) (Harrelson) Walter Brueggmann notes “Israel isn’t complaining about being thirsty, they are demanding proof that God is present.” He writes:

The only evidence of Yahweh’s presence that Israel will accept is concrete action that saves. Thus Israel collapses God’s promise into its own well-being and refuses to allow Yahweh any life apart from Israel’s well-being. (Brueggemann)

Terence Fretheim notes, they are seeking a way to coerce God to act, (Fretheim) much like Satan is tempting Jesus on the pinnacle of the temple to goad God to act. (Brueggemann)

We all know Jesus tells Satan “… it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Mat 4:5ff) So we know testing God is a dangerous idea. But the real danger here, is perverting the relationship with God. Israel has essentially tried to place God at their beck and call. Moses isn’t really much better. Yes he turns to God, but not to seek help for Israel; he’s asking God to save his skin. (Brueggemann)

This behavior leads to two sorts of unfaithful and dangerous behaviors. The first is to not take reasonable precautions, like wearing seat belts, while proudly proclaiming “God is my protection.” The second, and in my experience, is more prevalent, leads people to think, and say “God did not heal me/you because I/you don’t have enough faith.” (Fretheim) I don’t know about you, I’ve heard both. Both are flat out corruption that reduces faith to utilitarianism, (Brueggemann) a philosophy that seeks the good for the most, of greater concern,  its focus is consequences, not inherent value or motives; (merriam-webster.com utilitarianism) and consequently ignores those frequent times when our way, our desire is not God’s way nor God’s desire. In many respects it reduces God to a product that commercials do their best to convince you will not only solve your immediate problem, but subliminally suggest it will transform your life beyond your imagination. (Ashley) (Brueggemann)

Now we all know stories of floods (Gen 7) and fire (Gen 19) and pillars of salt (Gen 19:26) and plagues (Ex 7) and the wrath of God. So we might be taken back a bit by God’s response. There is no wrath, no scolding, not even a moment of “Now listen here …,” ~ there is none of that. (Hoezee) God tells Moses, “Get your staff, take some leaders; go to the rock at Horeb. I will be there; strike the rock and water will come out of it so the people may drink.” That’s it; ~ and not.

Moses used that very same staff, to make the waters of Nile undrinkable (Ex. 7:17). Once again, Moses is God’s manifestation of a divine extension of creation. In turning the Nile red with blood, in holding back and returning the waters of the sea, God, through Moses, demonstrates divine creative activity. Here a creative act provides Israel with water; and as water is essential to life, it’s also another gift of life.  (Petersen and Beverly Roberts Gaventa) (Fretheim) That water is under rock formations in the area does not negate God’s hand at work. Once again God is working through the natural and through the human (this time Moses) to provide blessings, and to give life to God’s people.

We are in the midst of our own wilderness trek. Though we are not likely to run out of water, indeed if you ask the road engineers we’ve an overabundance of the stuff, but, we have faced experiences that give rise to the questions “Is God here?” or “Has God abandoned us?” As God is imperceptibly standing in front of Israel at Horeb, God is imperceptibly here. God did not abandon Israel in the Sin dessert, God has not and will not abandon us here. That is not to say that God will grant us every wish. 1. Not every wish we desire is life giving, and 2. God’s ways and timings are not ours. So, while it is desirable to express our concerns to God, it is also desirable that we seek God’s reply and presence, which, by this morning’s story, is likely to be discerned in nature and/or in/or by family, friend, or stranger. And when we experience the presence of God, it’s our calling, actually a requirement of our baptism, to share it; in reality to seek and share it. (BCP 304)

When a community or a church has questions of God’s presence, when a church seeks God’s voice, God’s guidance, it’s the work of all the leaders, of all the people. Not all the work is the same, nonetheless, everyone is a part of: the questioning, the seeking, and the discerning process. It’s hard work. I’m not so sure ours is as hard as Israel’s trek across the desert, at least it’s not as physically challenging. I am sure we are not alone. I want to go back to our Baptismal Covenant. Not the proclamation of faith, which is critical, not the praxis vows, which are equally important, but to the response we make as each vow is presented: “I will, with God’s help.”

So, by the circumstance of numbers we find ourselves called to discern a new or different way of being Church, in the Episcopal tradition in the Delta in the 21st century. It’s not a rite of the church but rather a necessity of the church. We might hear the calling “Will you seek a way to be the church right here, right now?” In my heart I know our reply “We will, with God’s help.” Amen.


Works Cited

n.d. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary&gt;.

Ashley, Rev. Dana’e. Sermons that Work. 28 9 2014.

Brueggemann, Walter. The New Intrepreter’s Bible. Ed. Leander E Keck. Vol. Exodus. Abbingdon Press, 2003.

Fretheim, Terence E. Interpretation A BIBLE COMMENTARY FOR TEACHING AND PREACHING. Ed. Patrick D Miller, Jr. and Paul J. Achtemeier. Vol. Exodus. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1991.

Harrelson, Walter J. The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press, 2003. E-book.

Hoezee, Scott. Old Testament Lectionary Text is: Exodus 3:1-15. 28 9 2014. <http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/thisWeek/index.php&gt;.

Petersen, David and Beverly Roberts Gaventa. New Interpreters’ Bible, One Volume Commentary. Nashville TN: Abbingdon Press, 2010. ebook.

Portier-Young, Anathea. “Commentary on Exodus 17:1-7.” 28 9 2014. workingpreacher.org. <http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2136&gt;.

Advertisements

The ever-returning God

God in the Midst of the City

Fr. Mychal JudgeTo this day, I can’t take my eyes off that photograph.  When I see it, I find myself mesmerized.  It shows the limp and lifeless body of a priest being carried over a mound of dust and rubble by five other men: a police officer, two firemen, an office worker, and an emergency responder.  The gritty looks on their faces match the grit that billows all around them.

I can’t take my eyes off that photograph.  You’ve likely seen it.  It was taken by a Reuters News photographer in the mid-morning of September 11, 2001.  The cleric is Fr. Mychal Judge, chaplain to the New York City Fire Department.  When the planes were flown into the World Trade Center, Fr. Judge rushed to the scene and began offering Last Rites to those he found near death along the sidewalks.  As the conflagration blazed above his head, Fr. Judge moved ever…

View original post 1,539 more words

Turn around, look into the wilderness, and discern God’s sovereign presence.

A sermon for Proper 20: Exodus 16:2-15, Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45, Philippians 1:21- 30, Matthew 20:1-16

15 weeks ago we started at the beginning. We heard anew the creation story, ending with Adam and Eve wanting more, perhaps an expression of doubt, which God meets with consequences ~ but also grace. We followed Abram and Sarah into the wilderness, to an undisclosed location of unknown security, waiting for God’s promised heir. We heard of their efforts to hurry things along, surely an expression of misplaced doubt; for their divine heir by Sara arrives ~ in God’s time. We followed Isaac and Jacob with their own doubts about God’s calling, and how each was met with divine fidelity. We heard again the story of Joseph and the sons of Israel arrival in Egypt, where they grow and prosper. We heard how good times are followed by a crisis with a change in Pharaoh administrations the subsequent fall from grace resulting in harsh oppressive treatment. Israel cries out, and God answers with Moses leading Israel, out of bondage in repressive economic captivity toward freedom in a promised land. This time the destination is known, its security is assured, though ~ the route is a bit obscure. Last week, as Israel complains to Moses how he’s lead them to certain death, we witnessed how the latest in military technology designed and used to evoke fear and destroy Egypt’s enemies, is mired in mud, and swallowed up in divinely controlled watery chaos. In every story along the way, there is a divine promise, God’s people lose sight of and express their doubt and or fear, and God responds with signs of power and mercy.

Between last week’s tale, and this morning’s adventure, are Miriam’s and Moses’ songs celebrating God’s defeat of Pharaoh’s army. Three days later, with understandable anxiety, due to a shortage of water, Israel once again complains to Moses “Why have you brought us into the wilderness to die of thirst?” God provides sweet water at the springs of Marah. Two and a half months later, with understandable anxiety, due to a shortage of food, Israel, yet again, complains to Moses “Why have you brought us into the dessert to starve? At least in Egypt we had plenty of bread and meat to eat!” God responds, ~ this time with sweet sticky stuff – manna for breakfast, and quail for dinner. We don’t read this far, but there are also rules to follow; simple ones really: gather only what you need to eat, no less – no more, and the day before Sabbath, gather enough for two days, because Sabbath is a day of rest.

As with most, if not all, scriptures stories, there is more here than meets the eye. Part of it involves the miraculous, here it’s the appearance of manna and quail. Both are natural occurrences.  The fruit of the Tamarisk tree is punctured by plant lice; the sap forms yellow-white flakes that congeals in the cool of the night, and disintegrates in the heat of the day. Quail and other migratory birds, blown in from the Mediterranean Sea, can be so tired, they are easily caught by hand. (Fretheim) Neither of these negate God’s hand at work; both are examples of how God works in the ordinary and natural. (Brueggemann) (Fretheim) The significant bit is that God acts to take care of God’s people.

I mentioned earlier God’s actions in today’s story also includes a test, involving rules that involve Sabbath. And yes, you are correct, the Ten Commandments have not yet been given to Israel through Moses, we’ll read about that in a few weeks from now. But, if you recall, the creation story that begins in Genesis chapter 1 ends:

And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. (Gen, 2:2-3)

This morning’s reference to Sabbath (which is in verses just beyond what we read this morning) is a reference to the creation itself. The test is will Israel trust their creator God, will they honor the Sabbath?  (Portier-Young) (Brueggemann) Will Israel give up the old ways where bread comes only from work, fear and anxiety and fully accept the bread of life trusting only in God’s faithfulness? (Brueggemann) Will Israel see how Sabbath stands in opposition to Pharaoh’s oppressive economics and live accordingly? (Fretheim) Of course none of this would be necessary were it not for Israel’s tendency for revisionist history. (Hoezee)

In the first verse we read this morning Israel is longing for the meat and bread of Egypt. There is no mention of Pharaoh’s oppressive ways: (Hoezee) throwing baby boys in to the Nile, taking away means of quality brick production and threatening to withhold food if production drops. Perhaps their crisis of faith, brought on by suffering, (Fretheim) is a natural human response. Walter Brueggmann mentions how anxiety distorts memory of the recent past. (Brueggemann) And that, as Terence Fretheim notes, results in a lack of discernment which leads to: an inability to see, or denial of, God’s active presence. (Fretheim) Nevertheless Israel does what Israel does, fear and doubt prevail; but a significant point is God responds; but not simply to calm their complaining or satisfy their hunger. God provides manna and quail for them to eat so they will know, as Pharaoh’s drowned army pronounced, Yahweh is their God. (Hoezee) (Fretheim) Like the plagues thirst and hunger are intended to reveal that God is the singular source of freedom and life. (Harrelson) And there’s no better setting to get to know and to trust God (Portier-Young) than the wilderness, a place of death. (Hoezee)

The pivot in this story is verse 10. Prior to it, in distorted memory, “Israel associates glory (and the power to give life) with the splendor, wealth, prestige and extravagance of Egypt.” (Brueggemann)  At verse 10 the Spirit turns Israel around where: against all odds against all expectations (Hoezee) they do not see emptiness and death but a place of God’s sovereign splendor. (Brueggemann)

I don’t normally recommend evaluating reality by TV news, which makes its money by accentuating disaster and crises. However, the truth is that all of us, at some point in time, face a crisis, either individually, or as a community, or as a church. And although we might say we want God, or God’s representative, to fix it, we don’t completely act that way. We, as Israel did, complain, and often hedge our bets; remember Abraham, Sarah and Ishmael. And it really doesn’t matter if we believe God hardened hearts or otherwise brought the crisis, it’s here. What does matter ~ is our response. Do we allow the crisis to define us? Or do we learn from Israel’s experience and look to the natural and the ordinary to discern God’s actions and presence. Will we turn around, change our perspective, look into the places we’ve perceived to be wilderness, places of darkness, loneliness and death; and risk discovering the sovereign splendor of God?

Is it really all that important how we respond to crises, great or small? Is it really all that important to trust our creator God, and honor the Sabbath? God is all powerful, so we don’t really have to listen, ~ do we? Yes ~ we do; because not listening not trusting not honoring and not following the divine calling threatens … all God has done, (Fretheim) and is doing.

Life is life, and how we respond matters; it matters:
to us
to our family and friends,
to those who see us:
as leaders
as the Egypt, or Pharaoh of their lives.
It also matters to God, not simply because of a divine plan of universal redemption; it matters to God, because God loves us, love you.  And that will endure forever.


Works Cited

Brueggemann, Walter. The New Interpreter’s Bible. Ed. Leander E Keck. Vol. Exodus. Abbingdon Press, 2003.

Fretheim, Terence E. Interpretation A BIBLE COMMENTARY FOR TEACHING AND PREACHING. Ed. Patrick D Miller, Jr. and Paul J. Achtemeier. Vol. Exodus. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1991.

Harrelson, Walter J. The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press, 2003. E-book.

Hoezee, Scott. Old Testament Lectionary Text is: Exodus 16. 21 9 2014. <http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/thisWeek/index.php&gt;.

Portier-Young, Anathea. “Commentary on Exodus 3:1-15.” 21 9 2014. workingpreacher.org. <http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2136&gt;.

Chaos to life

A sermon for Proper 19

Exodus 14:19-31, Psalm 114, Romans 14:1-12, Matthew 18:21-35

Last week our sandals shuffled uneasily in the ʾadāmâ our loins were girded, as we ate bitter herbs, flat bread, and roasted mutton, with staffs in hand, waiting for to begin the journey to a new life in a new home free of the burdens of Pharaoh’s oppressive economic policies. This morning we are well on our way. Almost! The extended families of Israel’s 12 sons have trekked across eastern Egypt, led by a divine pillar of cloud by day that becomes a pillar of fire by night. The route is not straight, by command it wanders about the Egyptian wilderness. The meandering is long enough for Pharaoh and his court to have second thoughts. With 600 chariots, a force of shock and awe in its day, he pursues the former slaves. The army catches up with them at Pi-hahiroth (Strong’s) or the mouth of canals (Holman Bible Dictionary). The Israelites are now trapped between the Pharaoh’s army and the sea. Though long interpreted ‘Red’ scholars dispute where it actually is; some think it is the Reed Sea, others, as the name of place might indicate, believe it is an expansive marsh (Hoezee), and some believe it is “Sea of the End.” (Petersen and Gavenat) Where ever it is, the arrival of Pharaoh’s chariots has it intended effect, ~ panic rages through the trapped people of Israel, who blame Moses for their impending doom. God commands Moses to move Israel forward, and at the sea, stretch out his staff, so that Israel will cross on dry ground. At the same time the leading cloud moves to rear, as a guard between Israel and Pharaoh. At the sea’s edge Moses does as commanded, and an east winds blows the waters back and Israel crosses over on dry land. Only here, the word is different, meaning dessert; its root means dried up in ruins, and other forms means judgment and destruction.  (Portier-Young) (Strong’s) As you know, Israel crosses safely. And Pharaoh’s mighty technology of conquest,  (Portier-Young) get mired in the mud as the waters return, and as they drown, the army Pharaoh, Egypt’s god, recognize Israel’s God as God of all the earth. (Fretheim)

This is one of those times, when I wish we allowed a bit more electronic stuff in our worship space, to project an image or that I had the musical where with all to play the music, we all know from going to the movies, that reveals that there is something else going on. Anathea Portier-Young cites Martin Luther King’s sermon on this passage in which he:

called out the evils any could see in his own time. 1 They included greed and war, “high places where [people] are willing to sacrifice truth on the altars of their self-interest,” and “imperialistic nations trampling over other nations with the iron feet of oppression.” 2 King names nations and numbers. And he narrates racial desegregation as God’s work of ending and reordering in his own day: he saw the Red Sea open in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education.  (Portier-Young)

It’s a worthy provocative observation; however, what’s more interesting this morning is the echo of the creation narrative.  (Petersen and Gavenat)

You remember back when we walked through Genesis we learned it was written when the Jews were in captivity in Babylon. Among the creation myths where Baal, the Canaanite god of salvation and fertility, who defeat of Yam and Nahar, the gods of “sea and river” signals the victory of order, creation, and fertility. Marduk defeats the sea monster Tiamat as the initial act of creation (Harrelson) In Genesis 1:9 ff God separates the dry land, he calls ‘Earth’ from the waters. In a theological sequel, here God separates dry land from water allowing life to prosper.  (Hoezee) (Harrelson) Throughout scripture the chaos of water threatens life: the flood story, the boys thrown into the Nile to drown, (Hoezee) the disciples trying to cross the sea when Jesus is asleep in the back of the boat, and the night when he intends to walk by. And here, as in Genesis and the Gospels, it is divine control over the chaos of water that 1. preserves life and 2. leads to the revelation of God as The God. Which is always part of engaging the Bible. This is a good place to bring it home; however, there is one more tiny piece to explore.

In setting up her citing King Portier-Young observes:

In refusing to let God’s people go, Pharaoh leads his own people to their grave.

For several weeks now, a continuing theme has been our future; how is St. Stephen’s going to continue to be an Episcopal presence in Blytheville AR, in the 21st century. I’ve generally said something about proclaiming the presence of God right here, right now. I’ve also tended to point out that our going into the future requires letting go of those things of our past that actually get in our way. The scriptures have tended to be examples of what folks left behind. Abram left his father’s people and headed off into the wilderness, for an undisclosed location; who knows if it’s secure? Isaac had to let go of his scheming ways, a manifestation of his need to be in control, and trust God. Jacob, by then Israel, had to let go of losing Joseph, to let go of Benjamin. Moses’ mother had to let go of her son. We don’t hear about Pharaoh’s daughter after she adopts Moses, but she too let go. The one we know doesn’t let go is Pharaoh. Why he doesn’t scripture attributes to God hardening his heart, while scholars ponder his holding on to very profitable economic venture, built on the brutal oppressive enslavement of Israel. His holding on brought death and destruction. And when Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob tried to hold on the results are troubles and stumbling blocks to a divinely guided future.

So, as we begin an intentional assessment of:

  • where we are?
  • where God is calling us to be?
  • how we are to proclaim the Kingdom of God right here right now,

we will also have to identify what to let go of. That may be things you already know about; the possibility of selling the rectory. Or thinks you may have heard of like the vision for Stephen’s house, which includes moving from this place to another that allows ministry this facility does not. It also requires we let go of possible long held anger toward the diocese that emanates from decisions of leaders long since gone. We didn’t read it, but in this morning’s story, when the threat of Pharaoh’s army appears all Israel clung to tiny bit of false joy when they were under Pharaoh’s thumb. They had to let go of what literally bound them. So do we. And when we do, we will find the ʾadāmâ beneath our feet to be fertile, and we will be a people known for our awe and service to the God of our fathers, whose mastery over chaos, brings life to all. Amen.


Works Cited

Fretheim, Terence E. Interpretation A BIBLE COMMENTARY FOR TEACHING AND PREACHING. Ed. Patrick D Miller, Jr. and Paul J. Achtemeier. Vol. Exodus. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1991.

Harrelson, Walter J. The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press, 2003. E-book.

Hoezee, Scott. Old Testament Lectionary Text is: Exodus 3:1-15. 31 8 2014. <http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/thisWeek/index.php&gt;.

“Holman Bible Dictionary.” WORD – QuickVerse , n.d.

Petersen, David and Beverly Roberts Gaventa. New Interpreters’ Bible, One Volume Commentary. Nashville TN: Abbingdon Press, 2010. ebook.

Petersen, David L and Beverly R Gavenat. New Interpreter’s Onve Volume Commentary. Nashville TN: Abingdon Press, 2010.

Portier-Young, Anathea. “Commentary on Exodus 3:1-15.” 31 8 2014. workingpreacher.org. <http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2136&gt;.

Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary. Wordsearch, n.d.

Memory, Liturgy, Go

A sermon for Proper 18, 13 after Pentecost

Exodus 12:1-14, Psalm 149, Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:15-20

We know this story, so well, we know it better than we think we do. It’s gotten woven into our DNA, it’s a part of who we are, a part of how we are, who we are. For many of us, when we miss our regular participation in this story, our worship feels incomplete, our week feels incomplete.

Our Jewish kith and kin know this story as the first Passover, which they celebrate every year. We know it as root story within the story of the Last Supper, which we celebrate on most weeks. Liturgist will correct me, yes, we celebrate in our Eucharistic feast; however, we also remember, in fact we re-enact, Jesus at table with his disciples, and our Jewish kith and kin as they stand girded, staff in hand, sandals on their feet ready to move from slavery to freedom; ready to move into a new life.

Last week, we were taking our sandals off, wiggling our toes in ʾadāmâ  receiving the invitation to participate in forming our own future. This morning the soles of our sandals shuffle uneasily, as we await the time to act and begin participating in bringing that future into being. Last week was a time for reflection, that deep – deep quiet in which frenetic frenzies fade and the ethereal presence of God is reveled. Today it’s time to move; today time to do something. But, before we pack up and head out, there are some little details we should be sure of.

The first is about the sign of blood, marking the houses of the Israelites. Verse 13 says: The blood shall be a sign for you … The blood does not tell God whose house is whose, God knows that. In itself it is not protection from evil or harm it is a sign for Israel, a reminder that God is faithful. (Fretheim) It’s helpful to remember that in the day blood is life; it doesn’t sustain life, it isn’t the source of life, but is life; that’s why Jews do not eat animals with its blood in it.  (Butler Blood) The life of creation is given so that Israel’s life will be spared. (Fretheim)

The whole congregation, every household is to sacrifice a lamb. Lambs are very expensive (Brueggemann) so if a family too small, they are to share with a neighbor. Verse 4 is explicit, every family is to be included, no one is to be left out. This is one of the early biblical signs of God’s radical inclusivity.

The instructions are detailed, down to the time the liturgy begins, twilight. This is not the result of some master logistics scheming. Twilight is the time between light and dark, it is the time of transition. In order for Israel to get to their future, they must let go of their past. (Portier-Young)

The menu and cooking instructions are woven with meaning: they eat bitter herbs a reminder of sorrow and suffering; and flat bread, a sign of haste and readiness; finally they roast the lambs, they cannot eat it raw, because they do not consume blood, they cannot boil it, because the waters of Egypt have been a source of death. (Portier-Young) Finally there is a vital urgency here; when we lose our sense of urgency we are at risk of being at home, with the forces of empire. For the Israelites in Egypt its Pharaoh for the Jews in Jesus day its Rome, for us, it’s harder to see, because we so much closer to being at home.

Last week I said things are not as they were, that we are invited to shape our own future, and I had no idea what all that entails. I still don’t.  What I do know, is that is or should be a sense of urgency, not because of some pending doom, but because of some mission imperative. God did not save the Israelites, because they were some pure people, but because from the calling of Abraham they had a mission imperative, to a blessing to all nations in sharing the presence of God. Our mission imperative is exactly the same, to proclaim the presence of God, right here, right now. How we go about it, will be very different because our time is very different, our circumstance is very different. But our story is the same, it’s the story we enact as we make Eucharist; we see creation’s blood shed for our salvation we receive and offer God’s radical inclusiveness we are being transformed as we let go of what was to find what is, we remember: the bitterness of life, the need for haste and preparation, and that death does not have the last word. Most importantly as Israel left for an unknowable journey, to some vague destination they did not travel alone.

As we discern our journey to come, to some yet to be disclosed manner of mission we are not alone. From before Ur, into and out of Egypt, into and out of Babylon, onto and off of Calvary God has always been with God’s people, God is here this day, and will be forever.

 


 

Works Cited

Brueggemann, Walter. The New Intrepreter’s Bible. Ed. Leander E Keck. Vol. Exodus. Abbingdon Press, 2003.

Butler, Trent. Holman Bible Dicitionary. Holman bible Publishers, n.d. e.

Fretheim, Terence E. Interpretation A BIBLE COMMENTARY FOR TEACHING AND PREACHING. Ed. Patrick D Miller, Jr. and Paul J. Achtemeier. Vol. Exodus. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1991.

Portier-Young, Anathea. “Commentary on Exodus 3:1-15.” 7 9 2014. workingpreacher.org. <http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2136&gt;.