I Have Seen; I Am Sending
August 30, 2020*
By Pastor John Partridge
Where do you come from?
Many of you have heard me tell stories about my family. My grandfather fought for Germany in World War I, my father was in the Navy during World War II, my father-in-law was in the Army, stationed in Germany, during the Korean Conflict, my oldest brother was drafted into the Army during Vietnam, and served in the Army Reserves during the 1980’s and 1990’s. And, of course, our son Noah enlisted in the Marine Corps and this week our son Jonah was commissioned as an armor officer in the United States Army. The military isn’t all that we are however, and none of us, as yet, have made it a career, but our service is a part of our history and knowing our story, as a family, helps us to understand who we are.
The same is true for us as members of God’s family. Knowing where we came from and understanding the service and the mission of our historical family members helps us to better understand our service and our mission in this generation. We begin this morning, as we often do, in the Old Testament as we rejoin Moses as he tends sheep in Midian, forty years after he murdered a man and fled Egypt. (Exodus 3:1-15)
3:1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, youwill worship God on this mountain.”
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.”
First, since I began by talking about military service, it is important to note that Moses was drafted. Moses had no reason to return to Egypt, he had no desire to return to Egypt, and in fact, since he was wanted for murder in that place, he had every reason not to return to Egypt.
But God had other plans.
After all the persuasion and arguing, God sends Moses to the enslaved people of Israel in Egypt with a message of physical and spiritual freedom.
And then, in Matthew 16:21-28,
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their lifewill lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Several times we are told that Jesus didn’t really want to go to Jerusalem because he knew that he would suffer and die when he did. But, like Moses, Jesus knew that going to Jerusalem, and suffering many things, was all a part of God’s plan. Jesus even rebukes Peter for encouraging a selfishness that would choose safety over obedience to God. Jesus knew that God was sending him to fulfill the promises of scripture and turning away from that responsibility would be the same as open rebellion against God.
So, what does any of that have to do with us?
The stories of Moses and Jesus both point to our need for obedience to God and to the mission and ministry that God has given to the church, and to us, today. In Romans 12:9-21, Paul explains, in part, this way:
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
If we boil it down, in Exodus, God said to the people of Israel, “I am sending Moses.” In Matthew, God said to the world, “I am sending Jesus.” And to everyone, everywhere, following the resurrection and Jesus’ return to heaven, God said, “I am sending my church.” To us, God says, “I am sending you.”
Moses was sent to bring freedom to the captive people of Israel.
Jesus was sent to bring freedom from sin and death to the world.
And we are being sent to share the Good News, to tell the world the story of freedom, and to continue the work that Jesus began. To heal the sick, bring freedom to the captives, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, cling to what is good, be devoted to one another in love, live lives of humility, joy, hope, patience, and faithfulness, bless those who persecute you, rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn, and live in peace with everyone.
We are called to be agents of mercy, love, and peace to all people regardless of color, nationality, or politics.
We are called to love our enemies as well as our friends and neighbors.
This world will never be perfect until Jesus returns to make things right, but until then God has sent his people to make the world a better place through the power of forgiveness and love.
This is how you fit into our family history:
Moses didn’t want to go to Egypt, but he went because God sent him.
Jesus didn’t want to go to Jerusalem, but he went because God sent him.
Now, God is sending you.
God is sending each of us into the world to make the world a better place, a more loving place, a more perfect place than it was before.
God is sending you.
What will be your answer?
You can find the video of this worship service here:https://youtu.be/appinGvuNoA
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*You have been reading a message presented at Christ United Methodist Church on the date noted at the top of the first page. Rev. John Partridge is the pastor at Christ UMC in Alliance, Ohio. Duplication of this message is a part of our Media ministry, if you have received a blessing in this way, we would love to hear from you. Letters and donations in support of the Media ministry or any of our other projects may be sent to Christ United Methodist Church, 470 East Broadway Street, Alliance, Ohio 44601. These messages are available to any interested persons regardless of membership. You may subscribe to these messages, in print or electronic formats, by writing to the address noted, or by contacting us at secretary@CUMCAlliance.org. If you have questions, you can ask them in our discussion forum on Facebook (search for Pastor John Online). These messages can also be found online at https://pastorpartridge.wordpress.com/. All Scripture references are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.