9.4.16 sermon- I watched a TV show this week where the teenage daughter and the mother were at odds with each other. The mother argued that the daughter should not attend a college party because something might happen. The daughter argued that she’s always been responsible. As the argument continued, the mother finally said the words that Moses addresses in the first lesson today. The mother trusted her daughter- she didn’t trust the people or events that could happen at the party.
We make the best possible decisions for ourselves and our families based on what we know and believe. There’s a whole world outside that can change the plan we’ve put into place.
This lesson is Moses’ final advice to people he’s taught for the past forty years. That exodus of nearly a million people that he brought out of slavery in Egypt should have reached the promised land a month later. It shouldn’t have been a long trip.
But after living as slaves in Egypt for generations and forgetting the God who claimed them, they needed some reeducation. God can’t hand down land to God’s faithful people if they were no longer faithful. Moses began to teach them about the God who has always been faithful to them and to their ancestors before them.
Moses says choose life- choose God who first chose you. The people have seen God’s miracles; they’ve heard God’s stories from their ancestors-the waters of the sea parted so they could leave Egypt. The manna and quail appeared each day so they would not starve. The water gushed from the rock to ease their thirst. The poison serpents in the camp could not kill the people who looked on the bronze serpent as Moses instructed them to do.
The first generation of unfaithful people died in the desert. But then God was remembered. The people knew God provided and these blessings showed the invisible God whose only form is spirit.
Moses reminds them of the lessons they learned -choose life or death, choose prosperity or adversity, choose blessing or curses. Under God’s eye and with Moses’ guidance, the people are now ready to take possession of the land that God promised. They have the commandments and Joshua, their new leader. They have everything they need to finally take their place as God’s people in the land that God promised.
Moses reminds them that they are part of the line of God’s people, dating back to God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Hold fast to what you believe. Don’t be swayed by other gods. Stand strong in the Lord, remembering the foundation that God set for you long ago, inscribing God’s own name on your heart.
In the gospel lesson Jesus teaches the same lesson to the people. Jesus is facing death in Jerusalem, but he’s got a lot of teaching to do before that journey ends. Jesus’ lesson is about counting and comparing the cost of what is life or death for you.
When Jesus talks about all that we have to give up to be disciples, he reinforces Moses’ words-choose life, so you may live, loving God. That is the greatest commandment and the greatest benefit.
The greatest gift God gives is in our lives now. God gives us love and blessings, in spite of the hurt and pain we continue to experience on earth. God gives forgiveness and peace, so we can live at peace with other people. Jesus came to show us God’s abundant life, here and now and later, after death. We should be living in the full freedom God has given with a sense of joy.
God has given us the freedom to a life that has no conditions set on it. God called us through baptism, into this freedom. An open door is waiting for us, but remember. Upon entering, we trust God above the world-one holy and eternal God. Amen.
Rev. Dawn Richie