Sunday, September 07, 2008

not now and not me

...Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"
and then again: "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" (from Exodus 3:1-15)

Our celebrant reminded us this morning that the whole idea of meeting God face-to-face is not necessarily the pleasant and profoundly uplifting exchange we (naively) think it will be. No, she said, encounters with God happen in unexpected places, at unusual times and in odd ways. The story of Moses and the burning bush can be a paradigm for us: God's will for Moses was not an easy job. And Moses' conversation with God was mostly argument. I think of the line in the Lord's Prayer Thy will be done and my own subsequent response, just not right now, and just not by me

In the Gospel reading (Matthew 12:26) Jesus tells his disciples the hard truth about discipleship: What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? In most of the versions the word soul is used; in some it's substituted by life, meaning the true life. In the Contemporary English Version it says: What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? 

Your soul, your life, your self... these are called forth in encounters with God. Difficult. Uncomfortable. Because God recognizes qualities in us that we cannot recognize. Don't especially want to recognize. Whoever thinks that believing in God is the easy way out of this life is mistaken. But definitely worth the effort.

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