Will You Let His People Come?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 After this, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, ‘This is what Yahweh, God of Israel, says, “Let my people go, so that they can hold a feast in my honour in the desert.” ‘ Exodus 5:1 (NJB)
1 It is taught among us that the sacraments were instituted not only to be signs by which people might be identified outwardly as Christians, but that they are signs and testimonies of God’s will toward us for the purpose of awakening and strengthening our faith.
2 For this reason they require faith, and they are rightly used when they are received in faith and for the purpose of strengthening faith. (1)
Hear, Lord, my prayer; let not my soul faint under Thy discipline, nor let me faint in confessing unto Thee all Thy mercies, whereby Thou hast drawn me out of all my most evil ways, that Thou mightest become a delight to me above all the allurements which I once pursued; that I may most entirely love Thee, and clasp Thy hand with all my affections, and Thou mayest yet rescue me from every temptation, even unto the end (2)
Although the sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine Majesty, it likewise contains much instruction for the faithful34. For in the liturgy, God speaks to His people and Christ is still proclaiming His gospel. And the people reply to God both by song and prayer. (3)
All of the above readings are selections of my devotional reading, and they all have one thing in common. The people of God were responding to His love, to His call, to be in His presence.
For as people come into His presence, as they are made aware of His love, as they begin to understand it, something wonderful happens. Augustine describes this transition so clearly and begs God to help preserve it. It is a state of being where we are completely freed from anxiety, from guilt and shame, and we find rest in God’s presence.
The Augsburg Confession describes how the sacraments help bring about this awareness, as do the writings of Vatican II. That the liturgy brings this awareness out, as God’s love is revealed through the word, delivered in the sacraments. It is in these events that our faith is surely strengthened, our love of God and each other grows.
So now to the Bible passage – the Pharoah, who will hear these words from God over and over.
“Let my people go!” Put slightly differently, “Let my people come and feast with me.” It’s not a request from God to Pharoah. It’s not a suggestion. Pharoah will pay for his obstinance, for his attempt to block the will of God.
I sometimes wonder if the church is acting more like the Pharoah than it is acting like Moses.
We hold people back from coming into God’s presence. We won’t let them go, and feast with God. Consider…
* We don’t let them go when we put man-made systems and rules in place, which then deny them the desire God is putting in their hearts.
* We don’t let them go when we think they aren’t interested, or won’t bother, and we leave them in the suffering slavery of sin. ( Israel wanted nothing to do with Moses a couple of times in the process, remember?)
* We don’t let them go when we think they aren’t the right kind of people. (Check out Ex. 12:38 it wasn’t only the Israeli’s that were counted among the people of God in the Exodus!)
* What kept running through my mind during the devotion is that we don’t let them go, when we let our fears and anxieties stop us from letting them come among us, the people of God. Those who are fleeing violence, or drugs or war. When we tell them, hundreds of thousands of you in need aren’t worth the risk
In this last case, I am saddened by the number of church folk, people who claim to follow Jesus. As He is being lifted up by missionaries “on the ground” working with those refugees and they are coming to know God’s love, we are sending them a different message with our posts that they aren’t welcome, by the political leaders comments that we share, men who say just shut the borders down completely, and offer no option to helping those in need. We are showing those in dire need that we are more afraid of man than we can trust and obey in God.
We won’t let them come, because of fear. We won’t let them come to a place where they will hear of Jesus and find out about his love. We won’t let them come and feast with them.
Are we any different than Pharoah?
Read the blue, green and purple words again, and remember what Jesus said about if He is lifted up, he will draw all men to himself.
Reach out to all around you, and help them come to know Jesus.
One last thought, from last Sunday’s reading from the Old Testament
And those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever. Daniel 12:3b (NLT)
It is time to shine, people of God, and find out there are far more os us, than we ever thought, as God draws people to Himself. AMEN
(1) Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (pp. 35–36). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
(2) Augustine, S., Bishop of Hippo. (1996). The Confessions of St. Augustine. (E. B. Pusey, Trans.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
(3) Catholic Church. (2011). Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Posted on November 18, 2015, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged Abiding in Christ, apostolate, Augsburg Confession, Church, Communion, Evangelism, faith, Immigrants, Missional, Refugees, Syria, Vatican II, Worship. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.