The Scripture Reading this week is Exodus 14:10-14, 21-29
The Sermon title is Does God Take Sides?
Early Thoughts: It is a truth that the God we meet in parts of scripture isn't always the God we talk about in the 21st Century. For much of the story in the Hebrew Scriptures God is NOT the ruler of the whole world, YHWH is a family/tribal/national God. And like in much ancient mythology God takes sides, God fights for God's people (and in later parts of the story it could be interpreted God chooses NOT to fight for God's people to teach them a lesson), God protects God's people, God defeats the enemies of God's people.
Is this the God we come to know in Christ? Is this the God who is revealed to us in the scope of Scripture and the witness of the communion of saints?
I am not sure it is. My experience and understanding of God goes far beyond protection of my tribe/nation. And yet we regularly hear of sports teams praying that God would be on their side. And there is a long tradition in multiple faiths of people going to war in God's name -- a tradition which continues to this day.
At the same time the theology of a God who fights for and protects us leads us into some difficult theology. If God is on our side why do our loved ones die too young? If God is on our side and the other side insists that God is on their side how does that work?
So does God take sides?
I defer to the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln who pointed out that the important question was not whether God was on our side but if WE were on GOD's side.
But still I think it is important, as people who live in covenant, to remember that God is there to support and protect--and challenge--us. There is comfort in knowing that, as the United Church Creed strongly proclaims, We Are Not Alone. Even when the murdering hordes are thundering across the plain and our backs are to the sea God is there. Maybe not to wash away all the threat. Maybe to challenge our understanding of whose side we are on. But God is there.
And that is Good News.