Exodus 33:12-23  Psalm 99  1 Thessalonians 1:1-10  Matthew 22:15-22

Who is Walking the Way?

Walking the Way (thiumb)See all these signs, up and down the aisles? What’s that all about? Who is walking the way? What is the Way? Am I alone? There aren’t enough of us! How can we make this church function without more money and more people? God gives Moses an answer to those questions.

How wonderful is today’s story of a conversation between Moses and God. Today we are reading from Chapter 33 of Exodus, but Chapter 32 is the story of the rebellion! Moses is up on that Mountain, for a long time talking to God, and the people think that he has run away and abandoned them.

So they suggest that instead of worshiping this God, which Moses is promoting, that they should now make up their own god. So they melt their gold and make the now famous Golden Calf. We are told that Aaron, Moses’ brother, made the idol of the calf. He fashioned it with a tool.

Then Moses comes down the mountain carrying the two stone tablets that contain the 10 commandments. He sees the idol that they have fashion to worship instead of the Living God. He gets angry and breaks the tablets. But when Moses questions Aaron, Aaron says, “They gave me the gold and I threw it into the fire, and there came out this calf!”

Apparently God was even more angry, than Moses. After some pretty awful scenes (Read Chapter 32 to learn more) those that were faithful to God, stood with Moses. Then God told them that he would send an Angel to go before them. God also called his own people “a stiff necked people” and said their descendants would get back to the land flowing with milk and honey but he, God, would not go with them.

Moses talked to God in a tent outside the camp, but he didn’t know if the people would follow him. So here is the situation:  Moses knows that God has called him, loves him and is with him. But he thinks God has left out some pieces in the puzzle. He knows he is the leader and wants to know who there is to lead? Who will go with him? Who is “Walking the Way?” That is what he really asks. He knows “The Way” is not to be “Walked” alone.

He says to God, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me.” Now Moses stood before God pleading for God’s people… pleading for mercy, pleading for God to be with them. Not the first time he has done that, is it?

God says back to Moses, “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” He meant his Shekinah Glory. As Christians, we interpret that to be the Holy Spirit, which isn’t some mist in the night, but lives as God energy in each of us. As we Walk the Way of Love during these coming weeks, please ask God to show you who you are. What do you mean who I am? I mean, who are you now?

What have you learned about life and yourself that is worth passing on? You are the ones that Walk the Way. What are the talents and gifts that God has given you? Are you a listener, a helper, a teacher? Are you a leader or an organizer? Do you create? What do you create?

Music, art, dance, stories to tell or read? Do you create harmony in your home? To you create an orderly space in which others can come to be and know they are loved?

Do you create a space of loving presence, where ever you go? We call that the gift of Hospitality. How do you share your creativity, your giftedness? How do you give to God and to each other?

These next few weeks are ones during which we are “Walking the Way” together, each carrying our own gift to give. Please take the time to look in the mirror and see what it is that you can give. Then come each Sunday and look into the eyes of those sitting next to you, stop to talk with them. Find out what they bring to the body of Christ and thank them for what they do and who they are. They are your family in Christ.

None of us can be the church by ourselves. We are each a part. Knowing who you are now and what you bring to the common table is only the first step. As we continue to Walk the Way of Christ’s Love, we come to know who each of the others are and what they bring us and others. Then we shall know and be known. And the Skekinah Glory of God shall walk before us and behind us and beside us and we shall know that God’s very Spirit indwells us and we are the body of Christ.

We have everything we need. We just have to let go of the ideas that make us horde and not give. We have to stand with a mind open to receive. When we work together with our giftedness, we can do amazing things. A church, I once attended, had such a high level of monetary giving that they were able to purchase a fully equipped ambulance and send it overseas to a poor country at war with their neighbors. There are several churches, including ours, that work together to help rebuild a school in Haiti severely damaged in an earthquake. And closer to home, are the combined efforts of the wider Christian community to support homeless men with I-help and the Joining Hands thrift shop. The caring ear that hears and arms that hug are the unseen ways we give.

We owe to society because of the laws of the land and we pay our government taxes. We also owe to society because of the law of love implanted in us as God’s People. But what does God tell us that we owe? Through the words of the Apostle Paul, God tells us in the 13th chapter of Romans, that we should “owe no one anything, except to Love one another.” The image of Christ’s love is our coinage. And Love we owe. And we owe it because we are rich. We have been given God’s unconditional Love that we might give it away. We once were lost, but now we are found. We are God’s and his bounty never comes to an end.

The church is the place, the gathering of God’s people, where we come to learn the foundations of our life in God, where we learn the common stories, where we learn the shared moral truths that keep us from our own most selfish desires and keep us looking after one another.

As we walk the way, we do not walk alone. God’s Shekinah Glory is present with us always. We walk in the Love. We each give and there is enough always. “Give, and it shall be given unto you, is still the truth about life.” (D.H. Lawrence)

Amen

The Rev. Cynthia M. Spencer (Retired) preached at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Carmel