Would you have Moses for Dinner?
June 22nd 2014
Foam Lake United Church
A Snapshot of Moses:
Would you have Moses over for dinner? I am not sure if I would. I would be honoured to get to know him. To be able to say I actually met him in person would be awesome. However, I am afraid of how he might mess up my life. He might just get one of his messages from God that would now involve me. I am not sure if I want to take the risk.
Moses is probably one of the most influential leaders of the Hebrew People. Tradition says that Moses was born to a Levite couple. At the time of his birth there was an Egyptian decree to kill all newborn Hebrew males. His mother is said to have cast him adrift on the Nile River. It was Pharaoh’s daughter who finds him and makes sure he is saved. A wet nurse is found who happens to be Moses mother and so Moses grows up in the midst of the powerful in Egypt.
We know little of Moses when he was growing up. It wasn’t until his “burning bush” incident that God gets Moses attention to become the leader and liberator of the Hebrews in Egypt. Moses came up with many excuses to now follow God. But God always had a comeback leaving with Moses no excuses to run away.
Moses became the spokesperson for his people.
To convince the Israelites Moses was told the name of God in the famous and difficult phrase “I am that I am” [Exodus 3:14, also 6:3] and shown a series of wonders he will perform for them: changing a rod into a serpent and back to a rod again; making leprosy appear and disappear from his hand; and changing water into blood.
Harper’s Bible Dictionary General Editor Paul J. Achtemeier Harper San Francisco. Page 656
Moses job was to convince Pharaoh to free the Hebrew people. He was also the intercessor between God and the Hebrews. He managed to convince God a number of times to not be too harsh on his people.
We also know Moses for being the law giver and judge. He simply passed on God’s law to the Hebrew people. Today we still take seriously the Ten Commandments which tradition names Moses as the author.
Most of all we know Moses for being a leader. It was not an easy job because his people would often complain. They had short memories, quickly forgetting the oppression they faced Egypt. Moses had to keep encouraging people to move forward overcoming their fears each and every day. He would re-tell their story of Exodus over and over to remind them of the journey they were on. Jews do this to this very day when they remember their foundational story of exodus every year.
The story suggests that Moses was 120 years old when he died. You see 120 years was considered the ideal life span. He died on Mount Moab viewing the land his people would move into upon his death.
Scholars cannot say if Moses really lived. I suspect there was a person name Moses, but much of what has been told about Moses is myth. Myth is story not based on fact but story told in ways that reveal more ‘truths’ than any factual story could ever hope to tell.
The story of Moses whether factual or narrative is still one of the key stories in the world today. It has influenced many people to this very day in inspiring correct teaching and revolution among the people.
Theme time: The Ten Commandments page 213 Lectionary Story Bible
- Then make our own Ten Commandments for today
Sermon – February 20, 2011
By Roland Legge
Exodus 3:1 – 12 and 4:1 – 12
Our scripture today focuses on Moses call. Can you imagine coming across a burning bush that was not being consumed? Most places this would be a strange sight unless you were at Universal Studios in Los Angeles U.S.A. Would it get your attention? How has the Creator got your attention? What have been your “burning bushes”?
Moses was not unlike most of us when we are asked to do something difficult. He wanted to run away. He didn’t think he had the personal gifts and skills to be a leader in his community. Moses gave God so many excuses, yet the Creator always had a comeback. Thus, Moses ran out of excuses and new he had to give, this life calling, his best “shot”.
Our Creator gave Moses a huge and ominous task to lead his, Hebrew, people into freedom from the oppression of Pharaoh in Egypt. Moses new this was risky business and new he could not do it without God’s involvement.
He like his people believed that God was part of everything and thus he had nothing to fear. He believed that whatever would happen would be the will of God. But this didn’t mean that Moses had to agree with the choices of God. So there are numerous times when Moses confronts God because of the Creators harsh punishment to the Hebrew people. Hence it was not unusual for God to change God’s punishment after Moses had interjected on his people’s behalf.
I wonder how long it took for Moses to be convinced to become the religious and political leader of his people. I doubt it happened overnight. I suspect it was a more gradual process.
What are the “burning bushes” in your life? For me my separation and divorce from my first relationship was a wakeup call from God as I have shared with you before. I am not saying that God brought on my divorce. Rather my life got so bad that the excuses I had made no longer worked. I could not accept my old life script any more. My old script was based on my wishful thinking, that if I tried hard enough to make Yvonne love me, our relationship would become harmonies. You see, once I realized how I had deceived myself, I could no longer stay in the relationship as it was. There would need to be dramatic change and if not the relationship would have to end.
Why did it take so long for me to come to this point? I was afraid of what others would think of me if I was to leave Yvonne. In the end I discovered that many people wondered why I had stayed so long in the relationship. It took this dramatic “burning bush” event for God to get my attention. I have since then tried to stay more in touch with the Holy Spirit helping me to live a much more joyful life than I had lived up to that time.
Back to Moses; once Moses had accepted God’s call he now needed to try and convince his people that God had commissioned him to be their leader. Moses new he was going to need lots of help to make this happen. So the Creator enables Moses to do ‘miracles’ such as his walking stick turning into a snake, which convinces his followers that YAWEH has chosen him to be their leader.
I can relate to Moses. It is sometimes hard to convince others that we have been truly transformed by the Divine. Unless we are church people few people would be open to this Good News. Even church people may be sceptical. I would probably be one of those sceptical people. Would you? How do we show people that we have really changed? I think the only way for people to believe that we have changed is by truly getting to know us.
It can be very hurtful to be not believed. A few years ago I was at a training event. At the end we were put into small groups with a facilitator to discern if we were called to this particular form of ministry. One of the members of the group, new me from some years before; and he didn’t seem willing to be open to possibility that I may have grown in confidence since I had last seen him. Out of concern for me he swayed the group to block me from getting the accreditation I was hoping for. When have been the times you have felt misunderstood?
In the end we, like Moses, need to go out and be who we are called to be no matter how many doubters may be out there.
I think the bottom line for Moses was the ongoing task of building community. This is what he did all his life. Here are some pointers as to how this community forms and nurtures itself. I quote from an article called Exodus and Community by Elizabeth McMaster written for Sojourners Magazine in 1986.
- Community begins in the inspiration or vision that brings people together out of scatteredness and isolation and binds them in one hope. People gather together in voluntary displacement.
- It finds its authority in Christ’s mandate, “Remember me,” and Gather together that I might be among you.”
- It grows through the willingness of its members to conspire or breathe together on behalf of life, which is the proper work of community in the Spirit of God.
- Like the communities of the ancient covenant, it lives in enfleshing, in enacting its covenant with God and with one another, making visible the power of God in our world.
WWW.sojo.net Exodus and Community by Elizabeth McMaster. Sojourners Magazine, March 1986
In this context, God calls us to break down the walls of fear and division, as Moses did so well. How does this inform our own personal and corporate faith journeys? What do you think Moses would say to us here at St. Paul’s United Church? I have no doubt he wouldn’t be afraid to tell us what God is calling this congregation to live out. How God desires for us to break down the walls of fear in our own community. I doubt he would be very popular because he would push into action in ways that some of us would feel very uncomfortable and unprepared!
I wonder what would be the burning issue that Moses would find in Cochrane. I believe he would want to bring forth justice wherever there is injustice. Maybe he would push for Anglophone, Francophone, Aboriginal, and Meitei to all work more closely together to make our community a healthier place to be. What do you think? …………………………………….
Moses was one of the greatest leaders of our faith tradition that encompasses Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I hope Moses opens us up to having more honest and open dialogue with our Creator; for us to learn the discipline of knowing when the spirit is speaking to us rather than our egos. I hope we learn from his courage to take on leadership. How he was willing to take on difficult tasks. May we find the same intimacy with our Creator. May we find the same courage to go where the Creator desires us to go.