Twelfth Day After Pentecost
Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ 14 And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ 15He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ 16 Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ 17 And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ 20 Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
“Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.”
This is how the reading from Exodus starts from this past Sunday.
It is a foreshadowing of the story changing from the glory of Joseph’s saving not only his family, but the Egyptian empire as well during 7 years of famine.
It shows how the fate of the Jewish people had changed from favored status to one of slave status. Which raises some questions.
Where was God?
Did they do something wrong?
How come He didn’t prevent this?
All good questions.
Questions that get asked all the time during seasons that are difficult or tragic.
Like unexpected deaths, illness and accidents.
Let’s add COVID.
The questions “Where was/is God?” is an honest question.
It’s fair to ask this.
It’s okay to not feel okay about something.
I can well imagine that the Jewish people who knew the story of Joseph and then were being introduced to the story of Moses were wondering too.
And what would happen next.
People have thoughts like this all the time.
The story of Job expresses the same attitude.
And whenever we find ourselves in the midst of situations or seasons that are difficult, this question arises.
We have been in the pause of COVID for 5 months.
We have adjusted our worship habits.
Where is God?
We wear masks all the time.
Over-sanitize our hands.
Wonder and worry about those we love getting sick.
Where is God?
We have evacuated at the threat of a fire.
Dealt with its smoke.
And are reminded that the Fall could bring more PSPS shut offs from our wonderful power company.
Where is God?
We have cities in our country that are being burned.
People in our town that act like two year olds.
People who scream nasty things at one another.
People who disrespect those meant to protect us.
A twenty-something in need of a good spanking because of his vandalism in Grass Valley last week.
Where is God?
Where He always is.
Moving in the hearts of His children.
Who will not “conform to the pattern of this world” but choose to be “transformed by the renewing of their mind.”
Those who, as Paul states, go through this life altering metamorphosis called faith.
Like the midwives in the story from Exodus.
Even though Pharaoh was a ruthless leader, they feared (valued His commands) God more. The result is that God’s people were spared by his providence through the ordinary obedience of midwives.
The power of influence through living a life to God is culture changing.
The Church is the thing that is supposed to sustain a healthy society.
But only as it yields to the demands of the larger culture to conform.
Conform to what, you might ask?
I have witnessed, through social media, many Christian people behaving very un-Christ-like. It’s as if the idea of not conforming to the culture never occurred to them. These are specific things I have seen:
- Wishing for the president’s death.
- Assuming all Republicans are racist.
- Assuming all Democrats are socialists.
- Protesting wearing masks in mocking way.
- Being the mask police in a snarky way.
- Berating the First Lady for her garden makeover at the White House.
- Mocking speakers from both the DNC and RNC.
All these things, the world accepts without questioning, but it should not be so with God’s people.
So, be careful not to conform to something that is antithetical to God’s will for us as His children.
Allow your mind to be transformed, to then be the salt and light to a dying world. Allow your heart to be changed to impact others with the love of God.
Be God’s presence when so many are asking where He is.
And remember, God enters into our very ordinary lives to do very extraordinary things in the lives of others.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand ,to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. Saint Francis