“Tuesday Stuff or Wednesday Stuff?”

“Tuesday Stuff or Wednesday Stuff?”

Worship for the Week of August 2, 2020

The weekly worship video offering of Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church

Posted by Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church on Sunday, August 2, 2020

Pentecost 9 (NL2) John B. Valentine
Exodus 34:1-10 August 2, 2020

“TUESDAYS STUFF ... OR WEDNESDAY?”

Okay ... so today’s Bible story ... it’s going to take a bit of explaining.

You see ... we’ve been walking through the story of Exodus ... right???

• That journey of the people of God OUT of Egypt and INTO the Wilderness ...
• That journey OUT from underneath Pharaoh and INTO freedom ...
• That journey OUT of oppression and INTO opportunity ...

• That journey from ignorance to faithfulness ...
• That journey from being no people to being God’s people ...
• That journey from hopelessness to hopefulness ...

• That journey OUT of captivity and INTO community.

Now ... if you’ve been following along with us at home ... you probably can’t help but see that this journey has NOT been without its bumps and bruises along the way.

God said “Moses, I’ve got a job for you” ...
And Moses said “I don’t want to”.

God said “You people ... follow Moses” ...
And the people said “We don’t want to.”

God said “Trust me”...
And the people said “We don’t want to.”

God said “Worship me” ....
And the people said "We don't want to."

God said “Let me be your God” ...
And the people said "We don't want to."

For well-nigh thirty-some-odd chapters now ... God has been availing and equipping and inviting and offering and uplifting ....

And the people have been objecting every step of the way.

+ + + + +

But now ... in today’s lesson ... it all comes to a head.

You see ... Moses has been up on the mountain ... working out the details of the covenant ... the contract ... between the people of Israel and God.

And it all sorts of makes me wonder is any of you remembering seeing the movie “Jerry Maguire”?

“Jerry Maguire.”

Tom Cruise ... Renee Zellweger ... Cuba Gooding Junior.

“Jerry Maguire” was America’s introduction to the world of the ‘sports management industry’ ...

Wherein a whole bunch of agents were trying to get the absolute best deal for their superstar clients ...

Wherein Tom Cruise kept trying to find ways to to finagle the absolute BEST deal for his superstar wide-receiver.

What was it that Cuba Gooding Jr. .... errrr ... ‘Rod Tidwell’ ... kept saying to Jerry Maguire?

“Show me the money!”

+ + + + +

Now ... I know ... the story of Exodus that we’ve been walking our way through predates the sports-management industry by three or four millennia ...

But it might be kind of helpful to think of Moses as playing the role of Jerry Maguire.

For ... in a certain way ... throughout the Book of Exodus ... Moses plays the role of ‘agent” for the Israelites ...

Trying to negotiate ... cajole ... finagle ... the very best contract ... covenant he can for the Hebrews.

It’s almost like all that time “up on the mountain” that Moses spends there with God is to be seen as the original ‘smoke-filled room’ ... wherein the nuts and bolts of contract negotiations take place ... and a deal gets hammered out.

But while Moses is up on the mountain hammering out the details of the deal ...

The Israelites are where???

Down in the valley ... MESSING THINGS UP!

At the very time that Moses is up on the mountain .... learning how it is that the Israel are ‘to make no graven image’ ....

The Israelites are down in the valley ... turning their family jewelry into a golden calf.

At the very time that Moses is up on the mountain .... learning how it is that the Israel are to worship no God but God ....

The Israelites are down in the valley ... bowing down before this newly-cast idol.

At the very time that Moses is up on the mountain .... learning how sacrifices to God are to be made ...

The Israelites are down in the valley ... sacrificing to this symbol of fertility.

+ + + + +

Besides “Show me the money” ... there was another oft-quoted line from Jerry Maguire that entered into the public psyche back when that movie first came out.

It was a line that Jerry Maguire the agent kept saying to Rod Tidwell the athlete: “Help me help you.”

“Help me help you” was a reminder that there were certain things that the athlete could DO which would help with the negotiations ....

And that there were certain things that the athlete could do which would HINDER them.

“Help me help you” was a reminder that contract negotiations are always dicey ... even into the eleventh hour ...

And that the other party .... right up to the very end ... might have a change of heart or a change of mind.

I can’t help but think that Moses had said the equivalent of “Help me help you” to the Israelites on multiple occasions as he worked to finalize the covenant between the Chosen People and the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

But here ... at the eleventh hour ... just when Moses comes down the mountain thinking he’s got a deal worked out ...

The Israelites are found to be behaving in the in the ONE way that is absolutely anathema to the spirit of the deal which he has just carved in stone!

And ... this time ... rather than saying “Help me help you” ... Moses takes the tablets ... and smashes them to smithereens ... and screams at the top of his lungs “I quit”.

And we’re left wondering if ... and how ... this relationship ... and these contract negotiations ... is going to be restored.

And it’s going to take a couple of chapters of the book ... and no small amount of hand-wringing on the part of the Israelites ... before Moses agrees to go back to God to try to resume negotiations.

And it’s there ... back up on the mountain ... that we discover that ... despite the Chosen People being a stiff-necked, hard-headed, hard-hearted lot ...

That the Lord is a God “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.”

It’s there ... up on the mountain ... that God seems to let the secret out of the bag ...

That God loves this people so much that there is NOTHING that God won’t do to facilitate a relationship with them.

+ + + + +

You know ... earlier this week ... at least in our neighborhood ... the trash company had one of their semi-annual reuse/recycle drives.

You know how it is that they send around those flyers and announce that there’s going to be one of those special trash pick-up weeks ...

And the flyer they sent to us explained how ...

• On Tuesday ... there was going to be a special pick up of all these different “re-use” items ... wherein the stuff that you put out will be put to good use and kept out of the landfill ...

• And then on Wednesday ... there would be a special pick up of up to like fifteen bags of stuff that is just basically trash.

For us this past week ...

• Tuesday was our Re-use / Recycle day ... and
• Wednesday was just our day for extra trash.

But ... in reality ...

Rather than carefully reading the flyer ... and making sure that you put the reuse/recycle stuff on Tuesday morning and then the rubbish on Wednesday morning ...

Most everyone ... in our neighborhood at least ... just starts piling the stuff up in front of their home over the weekend ... without paying very much attention to what the flyer had to say at all ...

And then just lets the trash collectors themselves figure out what we’ve piled in front of our houses is ‘Tuesday stuff’ to be recycle and/or reused ... or ‘Wednesday stuff’ ... to imply be hauled away and disposed of.

So it made for a couple of interesting walks this week ...

• On Monday evening ... to see what people had set out to be rid of ... and ....

• On Tuesday evening ... to see what the re-use and recycle crew had deemed to be of no value.

+ + + + +

But the point of all this ‘trash-talk’ is that I suspect there are times in our own lives when we wonder what kind of trash we are.

Times when we have done something unforgivable to someone else ...

Times when someone has done something unforgivable or unspeakable to us ...

Times when we feel so little or lost that we can’t imagine God would give us a second thought.

“Are we ‘Tuesday stuff’ ... we wonder ... “something worth reclaiming and reusing ...... or are we ’Wednesday stuff’ ... that’s just destined for the dump??”

‘Tuesday stuff' .... worth reclaiming and reusing ...... or

'Wednesday stuff' ... just destined for the dump.

In fact ... I can’t tell you the number of times ... as a pastor ... that I’ve had someone confide in me that they believe themselves to be ‘Wednesday stuff’ ...

• On account of something they’ve done ... or

• On account of something they’ve left undone ...

Or even more tragically ...

• On account of something that has been done to them ... or

• On account of something that has been said to them over and over again by someone who hasn’t had their best interests at heart.

You see ... at the end of the day ... the message at the heart of this morning’s Bible story is simply this ...

That no one ... NOT EVEN YOU! ... ESPECIALLY not you! .... is “Wednesday stuff” to God.

For the Lord God IS “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.”

“Tuesday Stuff or Wednesday Stuff?” was a sermon preacher by Pastor John Valentine as part of a continuing sermon series on the Book of Exodus on the weekend of August 2, 2020.

The particular text on which it was based was Exodus 34:1-10:

The Lord said to Moses, “Cut two tablets of stone like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets, which you broke. Be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai and present yourself there to me, on the top of the mountain. No one shall come up with you, and do not let anyone be seen throughout all the mountain; and do not let flocks or herds graze in front of that mountain.”

So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the former ones; and he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tablets of stone. The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name, “The Lord.”

The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. He said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”

He said: I hereby make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform marvels, such as have not been performed in all the earth or in any nation; and all the people among whom you live shall see the work of the Lord; for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.

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