“Listen to the Voice of God”

“Listen to the Voice of God”

Worship for June 21, 2020

The weekly worship video of Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church in Orinda, California.

Posted by Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church on Sunday, June 21, 2020

3rd Sunday after Pentecost
Exodus 3:1-17, 4:10-17

Listen to the voice of God;
Listen to the Spirit.
Listen to the voice of God;
Listen, can you hear it?

Please, pray with me:
O Lord, with Moses, we say: who am I that you should send me?
And you reply, I will be with you.
With Moses, we say: what shall I say if they ask your name?
And you reply, tell them that I AM has sent you.
With Moses, we say: what if they don’t believe me?
And you give us signs – of water and of blood.
With Moses, we say: I am not a good speaker; please send someone else.
And you, O Lord, do not let us off the hook. You still send us, and you send others with us on the journey.

Be with us now as we reflect on your powerful word. Amen.

So, imagine for a moment that you’re Moses. You’re out in the wilderness, on a mountain, and you see a bush with dazzling flames coming out of the midst of it. And yet, the bush is not burning. Would you a) go closer to take a better look, b) pour water on it from a distance, or c) walk – or even run – away? If we were in the same physical space as one another right now, I would do a show of hands to find out how many a’s, b’s, and c’s we have.

If I’m being completely honest, I would be a c. I am definitely not a risk-taker where fires and other scary things are concerned. What about you? Would you go closer and look? Would you try to douse the flames from afar? Would you, like me, high-tail it out of there?

Moses was an a, of course, and he sure got asked to stretch out of his comfort zone! I wonder whether he later thought to himself, what if I hadn’t gone closer to look? Maybe I’d still be tending my father-in-law’s sheep.

The think is, I don’t think he would… I think that if Moses hadn’t leaned into this call, then God would have reached out to him in another way. Did you notice how persistent God was, even over all of Moses’ objections? God wants Moses for the Job, regardless of how insecure and ill-prepared Moses feels.

God calls Moses. But that’s not it – he doesn’t just leave him standing there or tell him to go on his own. God’s very first response to Moses’ very first objection is, “I will be with you.”

Now, I’ve never seen a burning bush that is not consumed, and I’m guessing that you haven’t either. And I haven’t actually heard God talk…well, there was that one time, but that’s a story for another time. And I’m guessing that most of you haven’t heard God talking to you.

If seeing burning bushes that were not consumed and hearing God speaking were the only way God called God’s people, well, then the Bible would be a fair amount shorter, and none of us 21st century saints would know or understand what it felt like to be called by God.

But we do. Don’t we?

The call of God to walk through this world as Christians, to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves, this is a call that many of us have been hearing our whole lives, and that others have come to hear only recently. This call of God is heard in worship, in Bible Study, in times of fellowship. It is also heard when one wants to help another person or family – especially in these times of pandemic – and feels called to offer to shop for groceries or to call someone on the phone just to check in, and when one feels called to pray.

This call to live a life full of love and care for others, this call to live like Jesus in this world, is our most important call. It informs all the rest.

We are called to be followers of Jesus. Like Moses, we sometimes feel inadequate for the job. Like Moses, we sometimes feel afraid that our message won’t be heard or believed. Like Moses, we fear that we will not be able to speak. God assures us, as he did Moses, “I will be with you.”

But make no mistake: our calling as followers of Jesus in this world will not be easy or comfortable. We will need to speak out for others and to act in ways which others may not understand or agree with. God calls us to speak the truth, to act with love, and to bind up the brokenhearted. Those we are called to help, or to bind up, or to speak out for will often not look like us.

In this past month, the horrible inequities faced by people who are black, or brown, or any other skin color that is not white, have been at the forefront of our attention due to several specific killings. But this is not new. It is centuries old. It is just now bubbling to the surface in a way that we cannot ignore – God, forgive us for ignoring it for so long. The fact that we can see it, that is the burning bush. That is a calling. God is calling us to work for change, to pray for change. God is calling on us to end this.

We have
An educational system that does not educate all
A system of justice that is not just
Systems of religion that do not proclaim God’s love for all in word and deed
Economic systems that enable the rich to become richer on the backs of the poor
… And on and on it goes.

This calling to work for justice, and for peace, and for education, and for economic justice – this is a calling for all of us.

Some of us are teachers, some lawyers, some accountants and financial advisors, some administrators, some pastors, some retired persons… All of us, with all of our many gifts, are called to be Jesus followers in this time and in this place. We are not called to be comfortable. [Pause] We are not called to be comfortable. This is not easy work.

The good news is that God goes with us. Our God, who has felt human suffering, our God whose Son was crucified by Empire and rose from the dead – this God, this Jesus, this Spirit walks with us. We are not alone. Let us listen for God’s voice and daily answer the call.

Listen to the voice of God;
Listen to the Spirit.
Listen to the voice of God.
Listen, you will hear it.

“Listen to the Voice of God” was a sermon preached by Pastor Pam Schaefer Dawson on the weekend of June 21, 2020.  The texts on which it is based are the stories of Moses’ call from God to do God’s work in the world — as recorded in Exodus 3:1-17 and 4:10-17.