Exodus 3:1-114 (MSG)
South & New Life Presbyterian Churches – September 20, 2015
The Reverend Deborah Fae Swift
I’ve been thinking about us a lot lately.
There are a lot of Us-es… there’s Us that worships at 9:15 at Monroe & Rosedale; there’s Us that worships at 11 at the Meadows; there’s Us that is each one of our Acts of Faith (which this last week meant Mt Hope World Singers, Bible & Brew, CLASS ACT, Sing for Joy!, Food for Thought, and the Saturday Morning Bible Study). There’s LOTS of Us-es, aren’t there.
I don’t know about you, but in my case there are a lot of OTHER Us-es as well … there’s the Us that’s my family and close friends (which is changing a lot right now. So are some of yours). There’s the Us that are my age … where did all the years go? There’s the Us that are related to our changing bodies … things we used to do that we can’t do any more. Now, I KNOW some of you feel that way, too. And it’s not just sports stuff … it’s not just weight or stamina … it’s HAIR … it’s knees and hips … it’s forgetfulness … it’s walking differently. If you’ve lost a part of your body to cancer or trauma, it’s how that changes your center of gravity. FORGET about “us,” the ME I knew isn’t here anymore.
The Rob Bell book that Food for Thought is reading right now, What We Mean When We Talk About God, sets out an example of a man inheriting a boat from his father. Over the years the man has to replace the hull … and then part of the deck … it needs new sails after some time, and one by one the boat is completely remade. Yet STILL he will call it his father’s boat even though there’s nothing left that was there when his father owned it. I feel that way about my BODY sometimes. It’s my body, but it is completely different from the body I knew when I was 20 or 30, 40 or even 50!
Well, in today’s reading I found myself thinking about Moses. He’d grown up in the lap of luxury as the Pharaoh’s SON!!!! And then he realized he belonged to another group, the Hebrews, and THEY became his “us.”
Ultimately, he leaves and goes back to live with his people as a sheepherder … and the people he identified with at that time … the group that was part of his US … was very different from the royal palace of his youth.
So there he is, doing his sheep-herding for his father-in-law and he meets up with this burning bush which he soon learns is none other than God, Godself. And this GOD tells Moses he has to go BACK to his FORMER Us people and tell the Pharaoh to let all the Hebrew slaves go free.
Not a popular message.
Not one that anyone would want to deliver because the Pharaoh could just as easily have that person put to death.
But that’s what God is calling him to do, nonetheless.
Now, tradition has it that Moses had some sort of speech impediment … he stuttered or lisped or something … but God chose him anyway. And when Moses tried to wiggle out of it, God said, “It’s okay, big guy, I’ve got your back. I’ll speak THROUGH you. But I need you to be there to be my mouthpiece.”
And that brings me back to US.
As Christians, we are COMMANDED … not requested, but commanded to go and tell people about Jesus, to teach his teachings about love and God’s kingdom to the world. Commanded. And even I … who have accepted the fact that I am called by God to do this for a living … even *I* find myself often saying,
“Why, me? Why can’t you get somebody else? I’m in my 60’s … why should *I* be the one working on New Church Development and Church Transformation???? Get somebody younger. Get somebody with brown hair and good knees … why don’t you get somebody who doesn’t have to juggle parenting teenagers??? Why ME?”
And there’s never an answer to “Why, me?” Except maybe … “Why NOT you?”
God CALLS us … every single ONE of us … to work for the faith community … to build up the Kingdom of God … to spread the word about God’s justice … to BE the representatives … the emissaries of Christ’s LOVE … and just as God said to Moses, God says to each one of us: “It’s ok. I’ll talk through you. I’ll be right there guiding you. Just DO it. Let ME worry about the details.”
Not much consolation – but a lot of AFFIRMATION … affirmation that we’re not alone, that we will have everything that we need to do the work we are called to do.
Just like Moses.
It might be easier if we saw a burning bush.
Maybe we would respond better if we had something physical to look at and say, “Whoa! That’s weird … it must be that God really IS here.” As it is now, sometimes we wonder, “Is it God or not?” And the only way we’ll know is how we talked about last week … in hindsight because that’s always 20/20 and we can see the outcome.
So, short of that … we have to rely on faith. It is the faith of our fathers … AND our mothers … the faith that they had when they first gathered where Hillside Children’s Center is now with what would become Mt. Hor Church and later New Life Presbyterian Church … it’s the faith that they had when they first gathered at the one-room school house near the Crittenden Race Track with what would become the West Brighton Chapel Society and eventually, South Presbyterian Church. It was TRUST …
Trust that if they said YES! to God, that God would put them where they were supposed to be and they would be God’s people and God would be their God.
Trust that if they paid attention and answered God with their willingness to go and make disciples, that God would find a way to make it happen.
WE don’t HAVE to know all the details. We just have to say YES!
People make “trusting God” seem like such a hard thing … like it’s so complicated. But I think it’s like floating on your back in a lake. If you just lean back and let go of the dock, your whole body relaxes into the water and the water holds you up. If we just lean back and let go of our fears, then we relax into God and God holds us up. What we should be doing that whole time is reciting the Buddhist mantra, “Everything is perfect” because it is.
It may not be what WE want it to be, but it is God’s Plan. And it is perfect.
Everything is perfect … even if it’s uncomfortable.
Everything is perfect … even if it’s chaotic and messy.
Everything is perfect … even if it’s hard and we get hurt.
Everything is perfect … because God is in charge and that is exactly what Moses came to realize as he led his people out of slavery and through 40 years of being in transition.
Friends, some of us have been trying to get away with saying, “Who, me?” all of our lives because for us to admit that God might be talking to us means that we really have to admit that we believe there’s a God … that that God KNOWS us … and that that God could BELIEVE that we are capable of doing what’s being asked of us.
And sometimes it’s hard for us to believe that.
It’s much easier to believe that I can’t do something because of my age … or to focus on how my hair has changed. It’s easier to keep reminding myself that I don’t even KNOW my body anymore and to think that I should be off the hook because of arthritis or whatever condition I might have.
But the fact is that the answer to, “Who, ME?” is always, “Yes. You. If not you … who?” It’s US … It’s. Us. And we are standin’ in the need of prayer … but we need to say YES!
So may God bless us, every one … as we stop saying, “Who, ME?” and start saying, “Yes, God. Here I am!”
Let’s pray: (sung) It’s me, it’s me O Lord, standin’ in the need of prayer …
It’s me, it’s me O Lord, standin’ in the need of prayer …
Not my brother, not my sister, but it’s me, O Lord, standin’ in the need of prayer …
Not my preacher, not my teacher, but it’s me, O Lord, standin’ in the need of prayer.
It’s we, it’s we, O Lord, standin’ in the need of prayer…
It’s we, It. Is. We., O Lord, standin’ in the need of prayer… Amen.