Exploring the Word:
Sermon – August 31st 2014
12th Sunday after Pentecost (Year A)
By Roland Legge
Imagine you are walking along and you notice a bush that is burning. But the strange thing is that the bush is not being consumed by the fire. Now that would get my attention, unless I was visiting Universal Studios in Hollywood.
When we read this passage from Exodus it is the burning bush that gets our attention. But what is really amazing, is who God calls to do his work! God calls Moses this less than perfect sinful person to do his/her work to free God’s people.
Moses was no saint. He killed an Egyptian man because he had hit one of his own people. He was part of God’s plan to kill many Egyptians to help free his people. Moses could get very angry. He was obstinate. I wouldn’t want to be around him when he was angry.
Neither was he thrilled by God’s plan for him to free their people from Egypt. He had many excuses, even though God wasn’t willing to hear his excuses. He was reluctant, at best, to agree to God’s call.
Moses was a complex man. While he did some very bad things God still trusted him to do what he needed him to do. God somehow new that Moses had what it was going to take the challenge the power of Pharaoh. Moses became a great leader helping his people to travel through the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. He faced drought, rebellion and anger from his people because they were exhausted and frustrated. Because his intimate relationship with the Creator he and his people never gave up. Now that took a lot of courage, faith and commitment.
If God can find leaders in people like Moses God can find leaders in us. God doesn’t look for leaders like a big corporation would. God usually finds the least expected people to do her/his work. People like you and I.
God is looking for a very different qualities. God is calling for people who will follow their call even if it makes them to feel uncomfortable. God is looking for people to do the impossible such as overcoming violence and poverty. God is looking for people to see the goodness in all people. God is looking for people who are willing to lead through vulnerability, non-violence and unconditional love. God is looking for people who are not afraid to suffer to overcome hate, prejudice and retribution. God is looking for people who will offer change through invitation rather than coercion!
Today in churches like Foam Lake United we are being called to ministry whether or not we are the laity or clergy. . God is looking for lay and order of ministry people to see through the eyes of God and then to have the courage to respond to what they see that needs God’s attention. For example, we see people in our community who are sick, grieving the loss of a loved one and/or facing a personal emergency and we do help them with food, money and love. We hear every Sunday the amazing ministry, done in our name, through the work of the Mission and Service fund and we are compelled to give.
Today our congregation and all of Christendom is being asked to reach out to people in our communities, nation and world just as Jesus did when he lived. This means finding the courage to take the church and its ministry outside of our buildings. It means getting involved in the politics of our time helping to discern with our leaders the type of world our faith compels us create.
Sometimes it means that we need to risk getting the comfortable uncomfortable. I think the life and ministry of people like Martin Luther King best illustrates this. In a letter from Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King justifies why he has organized marches and sit-ins that have disturbed the peace. Martin Luther King is all for negotiation but he believes that sometimes nonviolent direct action is required to create a crisis to foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.
Pulpit Resource by William H. Willimon http://www.logosproductions.com/content/august-31-2014-call-lead
None of us live in the severe conditions like African Americans were living in the Southern United States. So it may be hard for us to relate, but we all have our blind spots. But if we think about it all churches have gotten used to being the church in a particular way and often don’t find it easy to change. Sometimes we need a minister or lay person to shake us up a bit to become open to becoming more relevant for our times.
In Canada we continue to struggle in our relationship with our First peoples. More and more First Nations see the value of nonviolent resistance to wake up the governments and the people to taking action that will begin to reduce the wide disparity between the rest of Canada and First Nation peoples. Is God calling us to walk with these people and do our part to heal the divisions between us and them? We are blessed to live in the midst of First Nations people and thus have a great opportunity to do this work/ministry of healing and justice.
We believe in a God who asks us to do the most unexpected things. We like Moses can find hundreds of excuses not to do things. But God never give ups on us until we say YES!
I would like to end with one of my favorite songs sung by Linnea Good, called “Who am I to say No”. I invite you to sit and reflect as you hear it. Please join in if you like.