DATE: 13 October 2013
TO: Yogyakarta International Congregation
TITLE: God’s Construction Zone: Hati Hati
Hebrew Scripture-Exodus 32:1-14 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “ Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ ” Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
Gospel Reading-Matthew 22:1-10 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
God’s Construction Zone
Good evening church, thank you for your continued prayers and welcome!
Todays Hebrew Scripture Reading came from Exodus 32:1-14. Let me set the stage, though… Moses is up on Mount Sinnai talking to God. He has left a large band of people down below waiting. But to really understand that portion of the scripture we have to step back and remember the beginning of their journey…
Slaves were being mistreated. Children were being killed and God promissed deliverance. Acoording to the Bible, God used Moses and Aaron to “perform miracles” that outshined those performed by Pharaos magicians (Ex 7)
Turned a staff into a snake
Rained down plagues: of blood, of frogs, of gnats, of flies, of livestuck, of boils, of hail, of locust, of darknes.
Even children were affected, the plague of the firstborn… — Preparation, Passover Lamb, Pharaoh says goodbye.
It took time, it took a lot of time and trouble and difficulties, but FINALLY Pharaoh let God’s people go. (I invite you to read the story for yourself starting with Exodus 1). This story shows us that change is not easy. Change is attached to struggle and difficulties. God had a plan. And that plan was freedom! Regardless of the time and the distance and the struggle when God has a plan…consider life to be a construction zone! Before I continue, let us pray:
This weeks sermon is titled: God’s Construction Zone.
The last few months I have been walking pretty much everywhere that I go. And those walks have led me to make some interesting observations that I would have been unable to make from the protective cocoon of a car. See, when I sit in a car, and it is hot outside I keep my windows up and the airconditioning on, and often times I miss out on the little details that are signs of a problem.
Have you ever missed the signs?
For instance, when there is road construction, there are visual signs in the US that say YIELD meaning something is going on ahead and you need to focus….but when you are walking here in Indonesia, you can’t ignore the signs… The sign doesn’t say yield it usually says HATI HATI and because I don’t know Bhassa I looked up the meaning of that word…HATI means heart!
Confused, I wondered what it meant that everywhere there were signs that said heart. I wondered why every sign seemed to say HEART! And in my confusion, i began to be more careful as I walked. I began to see the gaps in the road ahead. The holes in the road. The construction going on…I became aware.
And after a few days, I finally realized that the signs did not say Hati two times as in heart heart, but rather, the sign said HATI HATI and the defenition was different. Be careful!
On the path we are on, there are going to be many roadblocks. Maneuvering through them is not easy, but if we join Jesus at a teaching moment on Mount of Olives (John 8:7) we find that we have to be careful of falling rocks. Wether we are the ones throwing them, or the ones having them hurled our way. Jesus says, “let anyone who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” Be careful, don’t let the falling rocks stop you, but be aware of your purpose.
Stop and Yield
If we return to today’s reading we find a people that have seen miracles! They have tried God and been blessed. These are people who survived because when they were thirsty, God let water flow from dry rock (Numbers 20:8). And when they were hungry manna (bread) fell from heaven (Exodus 16: 4) for their consumption. A blessed people!
These blessed people, when left alone without their prophet turned from God snd looked for new solutions…new gods. Let’s try not to be too much like those ancestors, our ancestors who “gave no thought to [God’s] miracles; they did not remember [God’s] many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, The Red Sea” (Psalm 106:7). That’s not who we want to emulate. Instead of turning away from God, Stop and Yield!
Proverbs 4:11-13 in The Message says, “I’m writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way, I’m drawing a map to Righteous Road. I don’t want you ending up in blind alleys, or wasting time making wrong turns. Hold tight to good advice; don’t relax your grip. Guard it well—your life is at stake!”
God is with you. God knows your nature. God knows that when times get tough our humanity shows through!!! Even after just having experienced God’s miracle at the Red Sea, humans are human and at the next state of potential doom, we act brand new. As though we have never before experienced God’ s protection. But imagine if we walked through life as though it was a construction site. A site that had a limitless protector…
As Pastora Maritza de Gonzalez recently preached, “Salvation Ahead! Abraham was told to leave everything and everybody and move into a new environment. And he said YES! Moses stuttered”; but he said YES! Esther had multiple reasons not to obey, but she said YES! These individuals represented a paradigm shift [in] their time and they took the call to go as sacred, a holy call; they OBEYED their God. They trusted God.”
But trust comes from a clear understanding of your purpose. God is still speaking, but are we still listening? God is still listening but are you still talking (praying)?
Ear, Mouth, Heart
For me there is one standout moment in Exodus 32, that takes place in two parts. See, God is faithful in spite of our faithlessness. While Moses was up on Mount Sinai talking to God. While tablets of stone were being inscribed by the very finger of God…
The people were bored, tired of waiting, and impatient so they melted gold and made Baals (gods). And worshipped these gods.
And up on the mountain, the Lord said to Moses, “go down [there] because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt” (Exodus 32:7). In that moment, God disowned them. God disowned the people and God disowned God’s divine role in their liberation…but even when God wants to punish, God remains faithful to God’s word. And God’s word was freedom.
Moses listened to God. But, Moses…dared to speak. Moses reminds God that God is the liberator of these people. Moses insists on God’s continuing relationship. Moses reminds God using God’s own words, “Lord, why should your anger burn against YOUR people, whom YOU brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand…turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom YOU swore byYOUR own self: I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever” (Exodus 32:11-13).
Dare. Dare to speak. Dare to pray. Dare to cry out to God all your frustrations. Put your timidness aside and cry out to God. Remind God that God is your God. Dare to intercede for others. Dare to pray. Amen.
Song: Freedom sung by: Nicole C. Mullen
Dear God, make us to be bold. Bold enough to listen to you speak and bold enough to tell you what we feel. Almighty, we still need freedom. Freedom from our self doubts. Freedom from the stones that try to break us. Freedom from judgement that does not come from you. We claim our freedom Lord. We areYOUR people who YOU freed, remember us. Amen