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I Have Certainly Seen, I Am Aware, I Have Come Down!

I Have Certainly Seen, I Am Aware,

I Have Come Down…

Exodus 3:1-15

Jesus, Son, Savior

 

It is my prayer for you, that you realize the grace of God, that His merciful love and peace wash over you, cleansing you, as we realize that He has come to us!

 

The Burning Bush?  Big Deal…

It draws our attention like a moth is drawn to a flame, like the day after thanksgiving gathers shoppers to stores.  Like chocolate draws the attention of some people… or like Best Buy adds draw William’s attention… well and mine. 

Yet in our Old Testament reading this morning, it is about as important on its own as the color and smell of the sheep Moses shepherded.

Burning Bushes are interesting, they get our attention, they call us to look at this passage, they gain our attention.

But this passage is about the burning bush.  It is about what God reveals to Moses, something that after this week of challenges I don’t just want to preach about. I need to know it as you do.  I need to know it is as true for us, as it was for Israel.

Verse 7, slightly adapted:

Then the Lord told us, “I have certainly seen the oppression of you my people. I have heard your cries of distress because of the trauma life is tossing at you. Yes, I am aware of your suffering. So I have come down to rescue you.

God says,

I have certainly seen….. I am aware…. And

I have come down
Our struggle – we aren’t sure if He sees, if He is aware…

I think we get that God has come down in the past, in the time where He walked with Abraham, or Moses, or when He inspired King David to write incredible songs of transparency and praise.   We know He was there for the prophets. Yet when God talks so passionately about His people, about seeing them and being aware their troubles, and coming down to rescue them, I think we lose something in translation.

Because we use the pronoun “them”, rather the “us”

There are days I wonder, does God see us the way He saw Israel, does He know the pain we endure, whether it is our grief, or our anxieties.  When our complaints and our brokenness seem unheard, seem that they do not gain His attention.  Just like Israel, crying out for His help, as they struggled under oppression in Egypt.  Faith is realizing the them is us.

So that we can cry out like the man who encountered Jesus, “Lord, we trust in you, help us trust in you!”

We look around to see if there is a burning bush nearby… or maybe we check with our friends, or maybe even our pastor, to see if they’ve seen one. After all – Moses was not outside the Starbucks in Cairo, Egypt when the people were crying out.  He was out in the desert, out in the wilderness, trying to avoid his own problems. Hmmm.. maybe I should check with my friends in Anza and Yucca Valley, see if they’ve seen our bush?

I have to be honest in this, there are the days, where like the Israelites wandering in Sinai, I wonder if it would be better to go back to New Eng..err Egypt.  That the problems and sufferings might have been less there.

We are not the super-heroes of the faith.  Matter of fact, if we read their stories, Abraham, and Moses, David and Jeremiah were not superheroes either.  They struggled as we do, to see God’s presence, to see God’s faithfulness.  

Otherwise, why do burning bushes and arks of the covenant exist?

Because we need to know this: that He sees us, we need to know He is aware… and to remember He has come to rescue us.  We need something to distract us from our normal grind of life, to call us to realize that we stand on Holy Ground… not because of a burning bush or a beautiful sanctuary, but because we live in God’s presence.

But He has… and He therefore comes down!

We are not in the situation Israel thought they were in, when Moses turned back to see phenomena, and instead realized He was in the glorious presence of God.  We are in the journey from that place, on our way to the Promised Land, the place God has set aside for us to dwell with Him eternally.

He has come down! He is guiding us, even as He guided them through the Sinai.  We are not in paradise, in heaven just yet.  He calls us together like a shepherd gathering a flock, like Moses was sent back to Egypt to go get God’s people.  Because our oppressors have been defeated.

It is not in today’s reading but not long after that the miracle at the Red Sea happened. Like this it was prophetic, a picture of our baptism.  When the Israelites walked through that sea – it was to get to the other side.  Passing through the sea was to get them to the place where God arranged for them to live in His presence.  However, those that oppressed them died in the water, they did not pass through it.

Just like that is our baptism, where the goal is not just the removal of our sin, not just to unite with Christ’s death, but with His resurrection as well.  Though we pass under/through the water of baptism that which would and could separate us from Jesus does not.  It died – then and there.  Our oppressor and the sins which enslaved us died and lost all authority over us there.

Because God saw, and was aware of our situation, and came down to rescue us.  The rescue is only the beginning, even as sending Moses to Egypt was only the beginning for Israel!

And He is still here… because He has seen, and is aware… and is with you

 

Flash forward 1500 years, to two more mountains, the first and encounter between another tree, and another man, another appointment arranged by God.  The second mountain, where that man would turn to his apprentices, to send them back to their lives, to free others still captive in sin, still oppressed by it.

Christ would die on that cross, and I pray that everyone we come in contact would turn to look at that tree, on which God was killed, yet would live.

It is that other mountain, that I would look at, to close this sermon and lead us toward prayer.  The words that we know, but again, that we miss part of at times.  The words that send us back out into our worlds, back to the places where people need to know God’s love. 

18  Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”    Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)

All authority is invested by the Father in the Son, and even as the Father sends the Son, so He sends us. Just like Moses was sent.  The key is in the other part of the passage that is underlined.

I am with you… the same message that Moses would hear… as he was sent to deliver people from bondage. The same message those people would hear, as God guided them to the Holy Land. The same promise made to us when we were called into this relationship, the same promise made to every believer, as they are sent to free others from the bondage of sin.  

He is with you.

He certainly sees, He is so aware, and He’s come down to rescue us.

That’s what the tree on the mountain that wasn’t consumed by fire was really about.

That’s what the parting of the water of Red Sea was about.

That’s what the cross on another mountain is about…

That’s what the water of baptism is about..

And it is what this altar, and this meal is about…when we, as Moses was told remember His name. 

Then the Lord told us, “I have certainly seen the oppression of you my people. I have heard your cries of distress because of the trauma life is tossing at you. Yes, I am aware of your suffering. So I have come down to rescue you.

And He brings us into His peace, His indescribable peace that passes all understanding, where Jesus will keep us, mind and heart, safe and secure; for the Lord dwells with you!  AMEN!

Encountering others on Holy Ground.

Christ icon in Taizé

Christ icon in Taizé (Photo credit: lgambett)

Devotional THought of the Day:

16  No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards. Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so. 17  Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. 18  All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also. 19  Our message is that God was making all human beings his friends through Christ. God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends. 20  Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: let God change you from enemies into his friends! 21  Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God.  2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (TEV) 

For Monsignor Escrivá the value of every human being, the reason for their overwhelming dignity, was that each had an immortal soul. “To save one soul,” he said, “I would go to the very gates of hell.” These were not mere words. At a time when he was the focal point of all kinds of gossip, he had not held back from going to a brothel to hear the confession of the owner’s dying brother, and administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. As a precaution, he took an eminently respectable elderly man with him, since he was a young priest in his twenties. He had also exacted a promise that for that whole day there would not be an “appointment” there. A hug for a Mason Nor did he mind opening the doors of his house in Rome to an illustrious Mason, riddled with cancer, who secretly wanted to be reconciled with the Church. This man began by calling him “Sir” and ended up calling him “Father.” When Monsignor Escrivá enveloped him in a big hug, he felt that his evil past had disappeared in an instant into the ocean of understanding of a God who forgives. Approaching each soul on one’s knees Monsignor Escrivá was driven by two passions, both anchored in one love: a passion for God and a passion for souls. The heart of his “business” was bringing souls to God. Since God is always near human beings, what was necessary was that each person decide to listen to God and his or her conscience. His task as an apostle was to bring about silence in souls so that God could make himself heard. When Monsignor Escrivá said he was interested in a hundred souls out of a hundred, he was not thinking of crowds so he added, “one by one”—“handling each soul like a unique pearl,” entering consciences “on one’s knees,” always conscious of treading on sacred ground.  (1)

It’s Monday, yesterday began a new week, but one that I would rather not deal with.  
Too much work to do, 

 Too many hearts , already broken and devastated, ready that will need grace that I can point to, and wish I could simply give.  I love those words I underlined, in the description of St. Josemaria!  The idea that a simple hug could be the antidote for evil that consumes us, or that I could bring about silence in souls that would allow them to hear God clearly, to know His love, and His desire to forgive them.

If only we could get people to stop for a minute – and consider what God has done for them, as He claimed their souls, their lvies in baptism.  As He promised to deliver them, and heal them and be with them, taking care of them, providing for them!  If only when they approach the altar to receive His Body and Blood, they realized the love that drew them there, as Christ is lifted up before them.  For He is the Lamb of God, who took away the sins fo the world, and grants us peace.

These words aren’t simply words, they are His words. The words that show His work, His desire.

I suppose that’s why I like Escriva’s work so much – he cuts through most of the “stuff” of theology, focusing on what makes a difference, the presence of Christ.  Not to condemn us, but ot heal us, to set us apart as His people, to set us apart to share in His work – which is the very work we praise and glorify Him for in our words, and hopefully in our deeds.  It’s not about the world’s problems, or about this rare theological tidbit, or that great event.  It is about knowing Christ.

Like this idea that everyone we meet is made in God’s image – and is loved by God, and God desires that they should be transformed.  Everyone.  Even those who oppose us. Therefore, as we are sent into their lives, the very ground we meet them on is Holy Ground, a place desitned for their meeting God, because we bring Him to them.   As surely as Moses encountered God in a burning bush, I would desire that those who don’t know Jesus encounter Him burning in those of who do know His love.

And that their lives would forever more be changed.

With that in mind – let us take on this week, as we remember to plead with them on God’s behalf, urging them to be reconciled to God.

Lord have mercy on us, and make it so!  AMEN…

 

 

 

(1)  Urbano, Pilar (2011-05-10). The Man of Villa Tevere (Kindle Locations 2001-2017). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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