Sermon For 4th After Trinity Yr C
We know all too well many of the stories of the wanderings in the wilderness. From the dramatic exit from Egypt through the Red Sea where the pursuing armies of the Egyptians met their end and the passage through the Jordan to enter the promised Land, the land on Canaan’s side.
It had been a journey fraught with many ups and downs, sometimes they felt God was on their side and sometimes not! Sometimes they were faithful and devout and sometimes far from it. Sometimes all seemed well and at other times they grumbled like crazy
Maybe you recognise that journey?
Our Old testament reading today comes from almost the end of the Pentateuch… for us maybe we might say the first five books of the bible, but more significantly is that the Pentateuch form the backbone of Judaism and the peoples records of God journey with them and theirs with God.
Moses has led the people, the people have been formed, the y have journeyed and finally they have arrived.. though Moses hands over to Joshua (a word which as we know means saviour) and we today hear some of his final words to the people.
As we might reflect on our own life’s journey, and I don’t mean that we are led to think about our own death, I wonder if we could hear the word of Moses as if spoken to us. We stand possibly at the threshold of a new place, the bright new future and the current situation is full of possibilities.
We might reflect that in the past God had always been faithful, even amidst our meanderings and wanderings. We may hear the word from Deuteronomy that God is in fact closer to us than we have ever imagined. God is not beyond or out there, but “in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.
As we may think of our own journey with God we may reflect on the decisions and choices we have made, for good or for ill… and in all of them we are urged today to “Listen” to listen to God deep within as if as a still small voice. God is indeed very near, and very faithful to us.
It is so tempting and in some ways comforting to look towards God as if God was far off and “untouchable”…. Indeed some of our language of God even encourages this.
I think Jesus helps us see differently… perhaps more along the lines of Moses final words.. and more like that time that Moses handed over to the saviour Joshua (or in Latin Jesus). Jesus constantly spoke of God as near and to Love God with all our heart and soul and voice and to Love our neighbour as ourselves.
And there again is the snag we fall against just as the Lawyer did in speaking to Jesus…who is our neighbour… we all like to see our neighbour as someone separate to us, someone to who we have to go out of our way to find… but no! our nieighbour is right near to us… we encounter our neighbour under our very eyes all the time. Our duty lies right there. Furthermore it does come in the form of a duty and not a “choice”… ouch!
It was with these words ringing in their ears and hearts that the people (that we) enter into our promised Land where God continues to dwell alongside very near to us, and where we are helped to once again walk alongside God as we do also our neighbour, and learn all over again the power of Loving, and how transforming and revolutionary this can be. Loving God and neighbour and loving ourselves may not indeed be at all easy.. but it does land us safe on Canaans side. The place God has promised to be with us.