October 9, 2016 – 21st Sunday after Pentecost
Exodus 32:1-14 and Luke 23:34
At Dayspring we have been following the Narrative Lectionary (a set of readings prescribed over a set length of time – in this case over 4 years). We’ve been following it since September of 2014. This week the story is from Exodus 32:1-14, when Aaron collects the gold from the Israelites and creates a golden calf.
For the people Moses has been the symbol of the promising God for them, as God has spoken to Moses directly and because of this God saved them from Egypt through Moses. However, in this story Moses has now gone up a mountain and they haven’t heard anything from him in too long a time, and so they begin to have a spiritual crisis; their symbol of God has left them! Aaron decides to be helpful (let’s assume that for now at least!) and Aaron gathers their gold to create a symbol of God for them. Now they can relax again because for them God is back. It is quite misguided, as they are creating a false idol of the true God.
However, I wonder if they simply were missing what Moses and his presence had assured them of, that God is with them. Having Moses with them every day since they left Egypt, because of God’s call for them, reminded them of the promise God had made, to always be with them and protect them. Without Moses with them they have quickly forgotten this.
The creation of the Golden Calf is a misguided attempt to feel God’s presence with them.
Is it only the people in those times who get misguided and lose focus in their attempts to sense that God is present with them? Perhaps you and I too lose our focus. For many of us, our ancestors left what is now Great Britain or the European continent, and more recently Africa, Asia or Central America. Quite often there was a sense of calling that God was leading them and us to a new freedom.
We have the benefit of already knowing God’s 10 Commandments to the Israelites, so we know we are not to make graven images of God to worship, so we do not have golden calves around for us to worship instead of God…however, we do have idols that represent to us God. Our focus moves in a different direction. We get drawn towards idols and we sometimes forget that they are not God.
Sometimes our idols could be statues and sometimes our idols are our traditions. Even our church buildings and worship spaces could become idols. We sit in the same pew week after week, we get upset if someone messes with our traditions in worship, we are so stagnant in our spiritual connections that we think we cannot worship God unless it is done in the same way that we have done it for many years.
But God is so much bigger than our idols. God cannot be contained in a golden image of a calf, or a certain type of worship service, or our favourite pew! Through some of these items we may see or feel glimpses of God, but these items or ways are not God and to try and close God into a little box or a calf does not represent God.
Maybe that is why God was so upset with the Israelites for doing just that. God is so much more than our idols. We need to be able to let go of these idols so that we can actually see God. The best way is to see God in God’s children, the best way to see God is to feel God as we share the Good News, as we spread God’s love through our actions. We can do it by taking sincere interest in our neighbours and neighbourhoods.
Let us be the face of God for people in the world today rather than showing others false images of God, or images that only capture a small fragment of who God truly is!
This Thanksgiving we give thanks for all that God has given us, but let us also push ourselves to hear God’s call to us as we remember all that God has given us. Let us show the world who God is so that others are not tempted to find God in places that aren’t true of who God is.
It becomes a matter of examining ourselves honestly and examining our intentions on a regular basis.
God is faithful to God’s promises. We see that in the birth of God’s Son Jesus Christ, and we see it in the new reality that God makes possible in a world that so desperately needs to see this New Reality of God, the kingdom of God becoming real among us.
Where do we put our focus? Is it in the one true God whose Son rose from death to bring new life into our existence. Let us give this God thanks on this great weekend that we celebrate as Canadians. Amen
Copyright 2016 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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