Thursday, 9 October 2014

Exodus 32: More questions than answers

Since Jesus death, resurrection and ascension we have been on a pilgrimage as the church, a journey towards the coming return of Jesus.  The Basis of Union of the Uniting Church describes the Church as a Pilgrim People.  As people on such a journey we need to understand that on this journey the landscape changes and we change.  The Church as we know it now is radically different to 50 years, monumentally different to 500 years ago and almost unrecognisable from the church 1500 years ago.

As we meet as a congregation this morning I believe that we need to seek to listen to where God is leading us now and to make the necessary adjustments.

Reflecting on the Old Testament passage that we heard this morning we encountered the Israelites as God’s people on a journey.  As I reflected on their pilgrimage a few issues stood out for me to share with you this morning.  Issues that I want to simply raise and encourage you to think upon and pray about in the days ahead.

First, to say the Israelites were people who were encountering great change.  They had moved from slavery to freedom, they had effectively become refugees as they fled Egypt, and they were being transformed in their relationship with God.  Change was upon them spiritual; physical; personal.  And without Moses there to guide them they kind of went off the rails. 

So here is the first issue for you, ‘How do you adjust to times of change in your life, in the world and in the Church?’

Second, that in Aaron responding to what the people wanted the difficult nature of the relationship between leaders God sets apart and God’s people is played out.  It raises a couple of issues for us: 

‘Do we give our gold (metaphorically or literally) only we know we are going to see the results?’

And, ‘Do we simply want our leaders to tickle our spiritual and theological fancies or do we actually want them to be faithful to God?’ 

As an aside sometimes when we discuss change people uses the expression ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. 

I think this misses the point - the role of leaders in the church is not to please people but to listen for and be faithful to God even when it upsets the people! 

Third, that in God’s relationship with human beings God is also changed.  This is another of those uncomfortable passages where we see God change God’s mind.  For many of us the notion that God changes is disturbing but Moses pleads his case and God shifts his response away from wreaking havoc and disaster on God’s people. 

Once again, two issues: 

‘How do we live in a dynamic relationship with a living God?’

And, ‘What does it mean for your prayer life knowing that God changed his mind in this story?’

It would be nice to think that we could wrap ourselves in what we have always done and the way things have always been as a congregation.  Yet, I suspect if we really think about it and are honest with ourselves we have not always done things the way we do them now and things have not always been this way. 

To be a Pilgrim people means moving on and not stagnating.  In our journey with God now we ask together God to guide us and lead us so that we might be faithful.

Take a few moments of silence to listen for God speaking to you.

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