WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Virtual Sunday 10/18
Sunday, October 18, 2020
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Revised Common Lectionary passages for the Lord’s Day are:
First Reading: Exodus 33:12-23
Second Reading: I Thessalonians 1:1-10
Gospel Reading: Matthew 22:15-22
The liturgical color for the day is: Green
Moses is in the state of unsure. He is in the state of shift. Sound familiar? Moses cannot see from where he is how they will get to the Promised Land. He cannot believe the place they have ended up with all the wilderness struggles. He is left sort of scratching his head and wondering aloud, “How did I end up here?”
Moses has this conversation of sorts with God. And in that conversation, we hear Moses really asking for a more intimate relationship with the Holy of Holies. He wants, and even needs, the assurance and reassurance at this point of shift in his life and ministry. So, he calls out for the Lord to let him see the Lord’s face. “Let me see you face to face.” Moses ends up having this experience of all the goodness of God which passes him by, and he sees the back of God.
I do not think that Moses’ longing is locked in time. It is still our longing. We want to know God face to face. We want that intimate experience of God which shows us clearly who and what God is and how God is moving us.
We want that, but we get more what Moses got. In truth though, Moses did not really get something less than he wanted; he had that intimacy. He got that in all the goodness of God passing him and the glimpse of God’s back.
See, we get that too. When we pause in our life, we get that too. When we pause in our life—when we pause and look back, we see the goodness of God. Even when we are in the middle of struggle and, like right now, in all out crisis—as we look back, we see the story of our lives and how God has sustained us. That story is spirituality. Stopping to steep ourselves in that story is spirituality.
God does not remove the wilderness. God did not remove the wilderness from Moses or the people of Israel, but God did sustain Moses and God did sustain Israel in the wilderness. As we look back at our story we are steeped in spirituality. As we look back we see how God has sustained us and held us and loved us and known us all along.
It is the reality of the cross. Just at the moment when it looks as if there is no hope, God is still there. Just at that moment when it seems as if death has won, it is put down, and resurrection owns the day. Jesus is raised victoriously from the grave—the permanent sign to us that God sees us, and knows us, and wills life for us. It is the truth that God’s love for us is stronger than any struggle, any wilderness, any shift, any pandemic.
Moses looks at God’s back—he looks back and the goodness of God is there. And it is here too.
Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter and Stated Clerk