Exodus 3:7-15, 4:1-17; Mark 16:1-4
September 20, 2020
— Answering God’s Call
Hopefully, if you were here last Sunday or listened to the sermon from last week on our website, you will agree with me that God still chooses us for things – maybe even for all kinds of things. God calls us through opportunities and the voices of others to respond to the Spirit’s leading. I am moving forward with this idea this week, so that is the foundation I need to build on.
We are still in this time of choosing and calling and being chosen and being called. We have a meeting next Sunday to facilitate our finding the next installed pastor to call, and next month we will have a meeting to choose our next class of church officers to be called, so what happens when the phone rings?
Round 1 – in this corner, we have a barefoot Moses whose biggest job for the last 40 years has been herding animals for his father-in-law since fleeing from Egypt when he was a wanted man for murder. In the other corner, is a bush that is burning but is not consumed. Somehow it is identified as an angel but also God – however this works out, God’s voice is tied to this burning bush. Between the two corners, we have holy ground.
Time and again, God comes at Moses with the opportunity of a lifetime, the singular event that will shape his identity in the family of God forever. Moses will be the biggest figure in the entire Old Testament, and even one of the two counselors to Jesus on the Mount of the Transfiguration just before Jesus rides to his death. Moses is huge in the Jewish mind and sets the stage for Christ, himself, because Jesus becomes the new Moses leading the people out of death and slavery to sin. Moses hears God’s call.
But Moses responds, time and again, with excuses. He dodges and weaves trying to get out of the ring entirely. If you counted, you heard 5 “buts” or excuses that Moses is throwing out to get him off the hook for this call. He is trying to hang up like he stuck with a telemarketer, throwing every excuse to end the conversation. He wants to be free of this responsibility that will literally consume the rest of his life; he does not want to be consumed but more like the bush.
I have struggled with Moses. He is honestly not a great leader. He does kill a man and flees in order to escape justice. He tries to refuse God a number of times here. He ends up literally breaking the first written set of Ten Commandments. He has a love/hate relationship with the people in the wilderness, and ends up dying in the wilderness because he strikes a rock for water to come out rather than trusting God to provide. We should not romanticize Moses. He was a flawed, scared human being like the rest of us. The beauty is that God still picked him and used him and succeeded through him, even in spite of all of Moses’ failures.
Round 2 – In this corner, we have the women going to finish preparing Jesus’ body for burial. Remember that that first Easter morning, no one thought Jesus would be anything by a corpse. Especially we have Mary Magdalene, who is the only woman specifically mentioned going to the tomb for this horrible job in all four gospels. In the other corner, we have an angel, again speaking for God, and this time between them is an empty tomb.
If you want to know who the heroes of the gospels are, beside Jesus himself, it is the women. They get none of the credit but did a lot of the work. I’m not talking about the healings or exorcisms, necessarily, but they did the day-to-day grunt work of supporting Jesus and the disciples. They prepared and fed and maintained and supported. They are like the female lions who do the lion’s share of the pack’s work; they are like the women of the church today.
You may have heard that 20% of the people in the church do 80% of the work, but I would say 75% of that 20% are the women of the church. Don’t get lost in the numbers, but my experience is that without the women who are so rarely recognized, the church would fold. That’s right. Can you imagine what the church would look like if the women did nothing?? This is a long and circuitous way of saying that the women of the church have historically answered the call to be the living grace of our Lord in a profound way in our midst. This is especially telling since so many churches will not even let them serve in official capacities, yet they still rise to the challenge, the call to serve.
Mother Teresa is a great example of this. Who with a simple desire to love people and give dignity to the lowest of the low in their last days created a mission movement (Missionaries of Charity) that today has over 5000 sisters working in 138 countries. TheMissionaries care for those who include refugees, former prostitutes, the mentally ill, sick children, abandoned children, lepers, people with AIDS, the aged, and convalescent. They have schools that are run by volunteers to teach abandoned street children and run soup kitchens as well as other services according to the community needs. These services are provided, without charge, to people regardless of their religion or social status.
I find myself deeply appreciating how people have through the ages responded to God’s call in service that often goes unnoticed and unappreciated. We take so many of those who have picked up the phone for granted, and this is to our detriment, because we loose the significance of their gifts and ministry.
We all have had someone in our lives who blessed us deeply and encouraged us spiritually in our faith journey who was NOT some ordained minister or official person in the church. Stop for just a moment to bring to mind who that person was.
[Time for silent reflection]
If you can picture that person or more than one person, can you cherish what they gave you is simple, ordinary, and faithful ways? Just as a regular, ordinary sister or brother in faith, they made a mark on your life that is God-shaped.
This begs the larger question of who here is called to do things in the Kingdom of God. Last week, I certainly encouraged you to be more aware of how God might be calling you to do something in your life, in the church, or in the community. Maybe you gave that some real prayer/discernment time, but maybe some of you are not yet quite convinced that you are eligible or interested in God’s call, maybe somewhat like Moses who is there but not embracing God’s voice.
Remember something about the church: the word for church in the Bible literally means those who have been “called out.” If you want to be a part of the holy catholic (which just means universal) church, then you must recognize God has already started calling you. The Kingdom of God is not a spectator sport. There is no audience but God alone. We are here to be our Heavenly Father’s engaged people in the world. For you to even be here today means that you recognize there is more to this life than what we can see and feel. You may not yet know how to describe it or understand what brought you here, but we are not here by accident. We are drawn by love and for love. We are called to serve each and every day in simple, holy fashion. All of us are ministers in the Kingdom of God, and when God calls, we need to pick up – preferably on the first ring.
To God be the glory. Amen