Reflecting on the Wilderness

Reflection on Exodus 33:12-23 (October 22, 2017)

I was invited to share a reflection with a Spanish-speaking congregation.  This was my reflection, which was translated and shared with those who attended.

When Moses was praying to the Lord on behalf of his people, there was a separation between people and God.  The people expected Moses to intercede for them.  They had received a promise from God of the Promised Land, and were traveling through the wilderness trusting that promise.  But a promise is not the same as a relationship, and at the end of Moses’ prayer we see that as God passed through the community, it was like they looked up just in time to see God’s back pass by.  The relationship—the face to face conversation—was Moses’ responsibility.

But God invites them into relationship—even in the middle of the desert, and even though they don’t always respond to that invitation.  They were no longer in Egypt, but they were also not yet in the Promised Land.  And yet—even in the wilderness—they are not lost to God.  “I know you by name, and you have found favor in my sight,” we hear in Moses’ prayer.  “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Moses heard and could repeat these messages from God because he entered into God’s presence in prayer on behalf of his people.

You and I know something of the wilderness.  We know the feeling of not yet being all we believe we will be one day.  We, too, are invited into God’s presence in prayer.  And in the midst of our wanderings, we too can hear the promises of God for us.

Because of the gift of Jesus, we do not stop where Moses and the people of Israel stopped.  Because of the gift of Jesus we are each invited into the presence of God, where we hear God’s promise for ourselves—“I know you by name,” we are told over and over again.  

You are not a stranger to God.  You are not invisible to God.  You are not lost to God.

 Thanks be to God, you are KNOWN by God.  And God’s presence is with you in whatever your journey takes you.  Because of Jesus, you don’t need Moses, or a pastor, or a super-religious person to go to God on your behalf.  You are invited directly into relationship with God where you are reminded of God’s commitment and covenant to you in baptism, God’s promise to you in Communion, and God’s provision for you in community.  You are strengthened for the journey ahead.

When the people of Israel sought God, they were given a glimpse…they saw God as though from the back.  But through Christ we see God face to face.  Through Christ we are given the fullness of God.  Through the gift of baptism we are named and called beloved children of God.  Through the gift of Communion we are fed and forgiven and sent into God’s world for the sake of the Kingdom.  And through one another—through relationships and through community—we see Christ’s face as we journey together with all God’s people.  Thanks be to God, that which was unclear to Moses has been made clear to us through Christ.  We are known and loved.  We are called and claimed.  We are nourished and sent.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

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