A Devotion for Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Exodus 24:1-11 (NRSV)
Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship at a distance. 2 Moses alone shall come near the Lord; but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”
3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord.
He rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 He sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed oxen as offerings of well-being to the Lord. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he dashed against the altar. 7 Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, “See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 God[a] did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; also they beheld God, and they ate and drank.
Thoughts from “The Word in Season”
“All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do”
Moses served as a mediator between God and God’s people. In today’s verses, after offering sacrifices to the Lord, Moses read from the book of the covenant and spelled out God’s requirements in detail. The people promised to obey.
But words are so much easier to offer than actions. A mere eight chapters later, these same people build a golden calf and worshiped it (see Exodus 32).
Sometimes God’s people disobey – including all of us, I imagine. What a challenge not only to speak words of forgiveness but to forgive one who has hurt us. What a challenge not only to speak words of love but also to strive to love everyone.
Prayer: Strengthening God, help me to love so that both my words and my actions bring you honor. Amen.
Prayer Concern: All who need God’s forgiveness
Scripture Reading for Personal Reflection:
1 Peter 1:23-25 (NRSV)
23 You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
That word is the good news that was announced to you.
Personal Reflection :
What do we bank our lives on? What do we put our trust in? Where do we find our meaning and hope in life? Peter draws a comparison between “all flesh” and “the word of the Lord.” What does he mean by “all flesh”? Whatever is, literally, of the human body.
We can extend that to mean whatever the body needs or desires – that which is of interest to the body. Some of those things – like food and water and companionship and health and shelter – are important to the physical survival and well-being (but not pleasure or comfort!) of the body. We depend on them to keep us going. And yet, for all we do to provide for our bodies, the time will come when it will fail to function. It will wither and fall.
Even more so the things we do for our bodies just to satisfy its desires, comforts and pleasures. In even shorter order, these will always wither and fall – fail to bring us meaning and hope in life. They are substitutes for the real thing, the enduring thing.
We like to think that humanity is powerful and sufficient and of great worth in and of itself. It is what Peter refers to as the “glory” of the flesh. Peter reminds us that humanity is yet “perishable” – to one degree or another. Life will have its ups and downs, its joys and its sorrows, its successes and its frustrations. And life will be affected by things beyond our control – like the weather, and acts of nature, and Covid-19 and “withering” bodies (no matter what life-enhancing, life-prolonging measures we may employ).
Peter’s point is that there is something lasting, something eternal, and that thing is “word of the Lord” which “endures forever.” And that is Good News for us, better news even than that best event or memory or happening in our lives, because it is as word of forgiveness, acceptance, love and life. I have some pretty great memories of things that have happened in my life, like a week on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in Spain. And yet it pales compared to the Good News of Jesus Christ. Check out Paul’s words in Philippians 3:7-8 – Christ is the greatest word of life we have, and gives us the greatest hope and meaning in life. The rest, comparatively, is rubbish.
Hymn for Reflection:
“Word of God, Come Down on Earth” (ELW #510, WOV #716)
Word of God, come down on earth, living rain from heav’n descending;
Touch our hearts and bring to birth faith and hope and love unending.
Word almighty, we revere you; Word made flesh, we long to hear you.
Word eternal, throned on high, Word that brought to life creation,
Word that came from heav’n to die, crucified for our salvation,
Saving Word, the world restoring, speak to us your love outpouring.
Word that speaks God’s tender love, one with God beyond all telling,
Word that sends us from above God, the Spirit, with us dwelling,
Word of truth, to all truth lead us; Word of life, with one bread feed us.
If you would like to borrow an ELW or a WOV hymnal (or both) during this time of sheltering in place, you may pick one up in the narthex on the table to the right as you come in. They have been sanitized for you protection.
Please put your name on the check-out list so we can remind you to bring it/them back when we are able to resume worship in the sanctuary. Also, please sanitize them before you bring them back.
“Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go?
You have the words of eternal life.”
– John 6:68 (NRSV)
Want to do something positive in this uncertain, anxious time?
Write an encouraging card, note or letter
for one of our shut-ins (Ken Bechtler, Myrtle Danielson, Helen Randall and Barb Morphew) which can be brought to church for delivery (place in the basket in the breezeway).
Or, make some cheerful, simple artwork –
for others and for yourself – that can be put in a window to cheer you up, and those who may see it in your neighborhood.
Do you Quilt?
How about making Masks out of quilting fabric? It’s supposed to be one of the best fabrics to use, and there are patterns online to make them.
Write a Devotion
to post here and share with others, something encouraging or inspirational.
For those affected in any way by the Covid-19 pandemic.
For our congregation in this time of separation, that we would yet be held together.
What about a Sign Campaign?
Would we want to make simple roadside signs – from the people of Messiah – indicating prayers and support for medical, food, pharmacy, and other essential service workers (especially “on the front lines”)? What do you think? Could be a visible way of “sharing the love of Christ” in this time.
Have another idea? Let me know, and I will share it here!