The Story for the
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Oct 18, 2020
prepared by the Rev’d Rhonda Waters
Exodus 33: 12-23
Moses said to the Lord, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favour in my sight.’ Now if I have found favour in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favour in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” The Lord said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
And Moses said to him, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favour in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.” The Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favour in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.”
And the Lord continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”
Something to Do
But you said…
This conversation between Moses and God comes after the Israelites get in big trouble for creating and worshipping a golden calf while they were waiting for Moses to come back after his last talk with God. God is angry and has told Moses that while the people will still make it to the Promised Land, God, Godself, is no longer going with them. Instead, God says, I’ll send an angel to go with you.
Not good enough, says Moses. And that’s where we pick up the conversation, with Moses reminding God of God’s commitments to both Moses himself and to God’s people.
Imagine – or write – a conversation you would like to have with God that is as honest and bold and intimate as this one between God and Moses.
…unless you go with us
This is, at its heart, a story about who God is – God-with-us. During this time of renewed distancing, it is good to remember the power of “withness”. How might you be with someone this week?
Something to Wonder
and you shall see my back
The fullness of God’s glory is too much, even for Moses, but God grants him a glimpse of the wonder that is God’s presence. In my mind’s eye, I see God leaving a trail of silvery glory dancing in God’s wake as evidence of God’s passage.
This is often the way we experience God – recognizing a moment of holiness just as it is slipping by. Have you ever had this experience? What happened? How did you respond?
I will put you in a cleft of the rock
Jan Richardson, of the Painted Prayerbook, offers a meditation on this image in which she reflects on the dual meaning of cleave – to separate and to join. She asks: “Where do you find the clefts in your own life—those places that break your heart open even as you become whole?”
And she offers one of her beautiful poem blessings:
In the Cleaving
I know how
this blessing looks:
like it is
like it is
while you stand there,
feeling the press
of every sharp edge,
every jagged corner
in this fearsome hollow
that holds you.
read the rest of Jan’s poem.
Something to Learn
The Book of Exodus
Today’s reading comes from the second part of the Book of Exodus – the part where Israel and God work out the terms of their relationship after the drama of the escape from Egypt. It can be a tough slog to read through – it includes a lot of chapters about how to built a tent. Watch the Bible Project’s video to get the broad sweep of the story instead: Exodus: Chapters 19-30
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.