DATE: 26 October 2014
TO: Congregational Church of Weston
Call to Worship
One: Let us lift our hearts and our will to receive God’s abundant love.
God redeems us and we are made whole.
All: Blessed are those who do not take advice from the wicked
One: Blessed are those who follow the Path God has in store for them
All: even though the journey is long
One: even though there are quicker ways to get there
All: The journey is part of the plan!
Unison Prayer of Invocation
Loving God, We come to this sacred space to meditate upon your Word. United by a desire to follow a path of justice for your creation, including ourselves. We breathe you in and want to share your Love not only knowing the Law and believing the Word, but by living a life that shows we are connected, fed, nurtured and sustained by You. Help us be the Image of You, Lord. Amen.
#25 “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” (The New Century Hymnal)
#456 “More Love to You, O Christ” (The New Century Hymnal)
#454 “Lord, I Want to be a Christian” (The New Century Hymnal)
Scripture Background for Deuteronomy 34:1-12
Deuteronomy is the 5th book of the Pentateuch. And while the English name for the book means “repetition of the law or second law” which references Deuteronomy 17:18, “when he has taken the throne of his kingdom, he shall have a copy of this law written for him in the presence of the levitical priests,” in Jewish tradition this book is called debarim (words) taken from Deuteronomy 1:1, “These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan.”
The last chapter of this book, in fact, the chapter that we will be hearing about today, reports on the death of Moses and thus concludes the Exodus story, which commenced with the enslaved Israelites and the call of Moses.
Our lesson today, takes place on top of Pisgah opposite Jericho, returning the reader along with Moses to the spot where earlier in the book (3:27) God said, “Go up to the top of Pisgah and look around you the west, to the north, to the south, and to the east. Look well, for you shall NOT cross over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, because it is he who shall cross over at the head of this people…and who shall secure their possession of the land that you will see.”
For thirty chapters Moses knew he would not make it across the Jordan River. And still he remained with them. He walked with the Israelites for forty years. He behaved himself and upheld the laws to the best of his ability.
Often we think we should get everything we deserve, but what about when we don’t? Or what IF what we think we deserve and what we actually deserve are polar opposites?
Deuteronomy 34:1-12 (NRSV)
Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, 2 all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, 3 the Negeb, and the Plain—that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees—as far as Zoar. 4 The Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.” 5 Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord’s command. 6 He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day. 7 Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated. 8 The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended.
9 Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the Lord had commanded Moses.
10 Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. 11 He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, 12 and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.
Look, but DON’T Touch
Happy Sunday church!! I dont know about you, but for me todays reading left me a bit bewildered. I had a difficult time comming out of the text. I will try to help guide us through it. And, so first we will commence by using our imagination for a moment.
I invite you each to close your eyes or if you are not quite that comfortable, then gaze upon a spot directly infront of you.
And as you do so, I invite you to remember or imagine that you are sitting in a kitchen, that is perfectly clean and organized. The oven is preheated and as you sit, ingredients are being mixed together in a bowl.
Imagine that it is one of the longest days of the year and that it has been months, maybe even forty whole years since last you tasted this particular recipe… you are anticipating it’s deliciousness!
It is all you have been looking forward to…it is all that you have been imaging…it is all that you have been wanting for so very long. But after you watch the eggs be broken and hand beaten, after all the ingredients have been perfectly combined and protectively placed in the oven… just as the mixture is starting to jell together, to become cake, just as you can begin to smell it
A voice says to you, “enjoy the smell, but remember…it’s not for you. You can’t have any!”
Now many of us, would be upset. We would begin to think of all that we had done to deserve that piece of cake. If you have ever had a similar experience with a child you can just imagine the justifications they could come up with.
But… But, I finished all my homework.
But…I helped beat the eggs.
And yet the answer remains the same. You can’t have any cake. It is NOT for you.
Often we think we should get everything we deserve, but what about when we don’t?
Or what IF what we think we deserve and what we actually get seem to be at odds, one with the other? What then?
Before I continue, let us pray: …
This weeks sermon is titled: Look, but DON’T Touch?!
Todays reading comes from Deuteronomy 34:1-12. We have heard the story told and have a bit of the context in place. We understand that Moses is not surprised to find that he is not crossing the Jordan. He is not surprised to find that he will not be entering the Promised Land.
If you have ever told this story to a child you have heard a bunch of questions: 1. Why couldn’t Moses just walk across the Jordan? 2. Wasn’t Moses a great man of God? 3. Wasn’t Moses all about doing what God told him to do? 4. How could he not get to see it?
If you have ever tried to respond to these types of questions, you already know the answer! THIS ISN’T FAIR GOD.!
I mean, Moses did what he was supposed to do. He followed the rules. I mean, yes, Moses got upset. Moses expressed anger. SIGH! Moses broke the physical commandments of God. But Moses was a good guy. Overall. I mean, if Moses did not get into the Promised Land, how can I (how can we) even hope to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? It’s just NOT FAIR.
It’s NOT Fair
We don’t have to look far to realize that even Moses asked to “see” and this was “see” not just with his eyes but also with his feet. According to Deuteronomy 3: 25, Moses says to God, “Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan-that fine hill country and Lebanon.” Poor Moses!
Moses blamed the reason for not getting to cross over on God’s anger for God’s people. BUT, the Bible says that God said, “That is enough! Do not speak to me anymore about this,” instead, “look at the land with your eyes, since you are not going to cross the Jordan!”
Moses could have kept complaining like a petulant child. Because, after all. IT’S NOT FAIR…is it?
Destination vs Journey
But there is a difference between the journey and the destination. There is sometimes a difference between the person who can organize a trip and the person who can make the trip. A difference between the person who will help make the cake and those precious few who will taste the cake!
Moses was the man for the journey. He was the man who could keep order for those forty years. We don’t have to understand why he couldn’t enter the Promised Land. We should though, acknowledge that his mission was completed. He did what he was tasked with doing…
If we return to Exodus 3 we remember that when Moses met God they spoke. As a bush burned, God told Moses that he had heard His people cry out. God heard the lament, the plight of the bondaged Isrealites and God knew they were being oppressed by the Egyptians and God had a surprise in store for them.
That surprise was a man named Moses, who God told, “Now go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people out of Egypt.”
God did not promise that Moses would reach the land flowing with Milk and Honey. God told Moses to take part in the slaves liberation. God told Moses to free the bondaged. To liberate the oppressed.
If we continue to read Deuteronomy 3: 27-29, God says to Moses:
Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are NOT going to cross this Jordan. But commission Joshua and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.
God’s call for Moses included preparing a future leader, it included encouraging a future leader, it included commissioning a future leader. All for a task that he, Moses, would not be responsible for completing.
His call, Moses call, was to journey with the people. God calls each of us, to our own roles. With our own responsibilities. And when our task is over. It is done.
Some of us were called to be cake makers, others to eat it. Some of us where called to sing and others to dance. But when the song is done. We bow and say goodbye.
And we will be missed. But if we have done what God called us to do…when our time is done. We get to rest. Cradled in God’s love
And so, let us remember that Moses whether we think it was fair or not Never walked along the opposite shore of the Jordan. But according to the very last verses of Deuteronomy
Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.
He was a man of God. A man of valor.
Our hope today, our prayer today is that someday, when we say our goodbyes, people will be able to say the same of each of us.
Live the life God called you to. Live the ministry God called you to. Enjoy your journey.
Please remain seated for the Postlude and Benediction.
Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened!
There is a purpose for our walk. Our journeys will someday end. But it is what we do in the in-between time that counts.
And now, with a perfect and abiding confidence, with a trust and affection which knows no limitations, we send you forth upon your journey of life to laugh for joy, to suffer pain, to seek, to serve, to find. Amen and Amen.
Music that is feeding my spirit: Buffy, Something to Sing About
Life’s a show, And we all play our parts, And when the music starts, We open up our hearts.
Its alright if something’s come out wrong, We’ll sing a happy song, And you can sing along.
Where there’s life, there hope Every days a gift, Wishes can come true,
Whistle while you work, So hard all day? To be like other girls, To fit in, in this glittering world.
Don’t give me songs, Don’t give me songs.
Give me something to sing about. I need something to sing about?.
Life’s a song, You don’t get to rehearse, And every single verse, Can make it that much worse.
Still my friends, Don’t know why I ignore? The million things or more, I should be dancing for.
All the joy, Life sends. Family and friends, All the twists and bends, Knowing that it ends.
Well that depends?. On if they let you go, On if they know enough to know, that when you bow,
You leave the crowd. There was no pain. No fear, No doubt, Till they pulled me out, Of heaven.
So that’s my refrain, I live in hell, Cause I’ve been expelled from heaven. I think I was in heaven,
So give me something to sing about, Please, give me something?
Life’s not a song, Life isn’t bliss, Life is just this, It’s living. You’ll get along, The pain that you feel, Only can heal, By living. You have to go on living, So one of us is living.