Exodus 2:23-28. (This is from “The Message”)
Many years later the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned under their slavery and cried out. Their cries for relief from their hard labor ascended to God. God listened to their groaning. God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw what was going on with Israel. God understood.
My understanding is that Drive-in movies are coming back. There are currently five sites in North Carolina and Raleigh has one on Henderson Road. I grew up with them and discovered way too late that you could do other things at a drive in movie than watch the movie...in the privacy of your car...and in the company of your boyfriend or girlfriend. But...that’s another sermon. For years I actually...well...watched the movie. One movie that I watched was the premier of The Ten Commandments. It’s the movie that made Charlton Heston famous for his role of Moses. He was compelling. If you’re like me, you’ve seen that movie many times in your life. I swear that a whole generation of people never saw Charlton Heston without thinking “There’s Moses.” (I don’t care if he was also Ben Hur.) And only Moses could survive on the “Planet of the Apes.”
The Ten Commandments spent a LOT of time talking about how Moses was a great builder for Pharaoh. But Exodus doesn’t even mention it. Moses was already in exile and happily married and living in Jethro’s family compound. Life was good. Then the Egyptian King died. And life got worse. Slavery for the Hebrews got worse. And they cried out to God. God understood. So...God sent Moses. God sent Moses to king Moses did not know to do what Moses didn’t think he could do for a people with whom Moses probably didn’t have a good working relationship.
Some people are crying out to God. The poor, the minorities, the sick elderly are all crying out...because they’re the ones dying. And because they’re the ones dying, many in power choose to ignore it. But then again, that’s another sermon, too.
I don’t know how much we’re crying out to God today in the midst of this pandemic. In fact, if we ARE crying out to God, we’re crying out because we want things like they used to be. I miss sports. I would have liked to have seen how Duke could have done in the NCAA. My friend Bob posted that here we are in mid-July and the Orioles are still tied for first place. We think the Orioles will do really well because they’re used to playing with no fans in the stands. For the same reason, we think Duke might do well at football! But I miss sports because they distracted us. Without them, our nation has fallen into a terrible rage. Without annual, general, or jurisdictional conferences, our church has fallen into an interesting place. Our own rage has been put on hold...in a sense.
I went to two churches last Sunday that my conference committee has been working with. It was my first time not doing church virtually. People are anxious to worship in person. They’re leery, but they’re anxious. In one church a few did not have masks on. I’m not going back there. In the other one, everyone was. Amazingly, the churches have survived although we’re hearing about those who probably won’t. We’re living into new priorities and even the things we USED to think were important in the church...aren’t that important. But I think God understands. I also think we’re in a critical but good time for the church...because we’re going to find our way out of this and the ways we do ministry are going to change. Our priorities will be so different. One pastor I talked to said he spends a LOT of time on the phone. Bless his heart.
These are the worst of times...and they are the best of times. God understands. Moses was going to transform a nation of slaves into a body of faith. I’m still hopeful enough and interested enough to see just what God is going to do...with the church.
Breathe through the pulses of desire Thy coolness and thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire: Speak through the earthquake,
Wind, and fire, O Still Small Voice of Calm.
Pastor Rick Moser