As we wind our way through the days of the season of Easter we are aware that the resurrection is not a one-day only event. The resurrection of Jesus our Savior changes everything. The church year is a constant reminder that our lives are not to be lived on the cycle of the world’s affairs, of political events, but the life of Jesus Christ Himself, now the ruling motif for our own lives.
Moses had to learn that. There had to be a disruption of unholy patterns of living. There had to be a severing of old ways of thinking. So God led the young, deposed Prince of Egypt and exiled Hebrew-born would-be visionary to Midian: to sit it out for a while. While there, God comes to Moses to speak a new way of life to him. The burning bush narrative that forms our sermon today is filled with meaning for our lives. It signifies that God is always coming to interrupt the old patterns of living, to announce a new and better way—His way—that leads to salvation and wholeness. Yet, like Moses, we might stammer and stutter at the prospects of new life. Jesus asked the poor, invalid at the pool of Bethesda, “Do you want to be healed” (John 5:6)? “What an odd question,” we say. He had been there for thirty-eight years (John 5:5). Why wouldn’t he want healing? The answer is a phenomenon that I have seen in three decades of counseling and ministry: because old patterns of pain can become morbidly comfortable. The human condition is such that we sometimes prefer the familiarity of the painful to the unaccustomed surprising rule of God in healing. Moses seems to have been there, too. Yet, God condescends to Moses with a story and an object lesson: the rod that became a serpent and, then, a rod again. That rod forms the focus of our message today and could just be the divining rod to point to your own healing.
Overcoming fear with faith is grounded in leaving old, morbidly familiar patterns of self-destruction and embracing the wild, unpredictable, but liberating life of following God. But how do we take the first step? This is the focus of our sermon this Sunday.
Will you pray with me? The Collect (our gathering prayer for meditation) for this day in the church year is taken from the Book of Common Prayer. Perhaps you might like to pray silently as you prepare for worship.
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.