Monday, October 5, 2015

Looking Ahead to October 11, 2015 -- Thanksgiving Sunday

The Scripture reading for this week is Exodus 1:8-19; 3:1-15

The Sermon title is The God Who Hears

Early Thoughts: I have said before (on numerous occasions) that one of the best parts of the United Church Creed is that it begins and ends with a vitally important affirmation.  We Are Not Alone.

This is, and always has been, one of the great truths of faith.  We are not alone.  When we are in the struggles of life we are not alone. When we cry out in despair we are not alone.When we are in need of help we are not alone.  Our cries do not fall into the nothingness.

God hears.

That is one of the things we find in the beginning of the Exodus story. God hears. When God and Moses have their chat God sends Moses because God has heard the cries of God's people enslaved in Egypt. I wonder if the midwives Puah and Shiphrah are also signs that God heard the cries of God's people? They certainly seem to act as agents of God.

God hears and God responds. And so the story of Exodus, one of the foundational stories of Scripture, begins. But there is a twist.

God can only respond because Moses responds. One of my colleagues mused last week, wondering how many other people had wandered past the bush without noticing that it was burning (some of us have the same musing about the Christmas story -- how many young women did the angel visit before Mary said yes).

One of the ongoing debates in theology is if/how God intervenes in the world. Some stories in Scripture seem to assume God acts unilaterally. Some stories suggest God can only act if others sign on. I personally believe that God does intervene in the world (some hold a more Deistic point-of-view where God is more of an observer). However I believe God intervenes at the level of hearts and minds. God intervenes by getting other people to act.

In the world today there are many places where God's people are crying out under the weight of oppression. God hears their cries. Who will notice the burning bush and turn aside to check it out? Who will join God in the next act of release from bondage?

We are thankful for all the ways God has heard and responded in the past. We are challenged to pay attention to what is happening in the present and future.

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