In the stories of Moses and the Prophets of the Old Testament we hear of people struggling to understand what God wants for them. We encounter some incredibly heroic people whose stories we will look at in a moment and others like Jonah who ran away when God called.
Moses encountered God’s call on a number of occasions beginning with the fiery bush when God called him to return to Egypt and face the power of the Pharaoh in order to deliver the children of Israel out of their oppression and lead them to a new life in the Promised Land – to leave behind being harshly treated slaves and go to a land of milk and honey. Moses questions God’s call. In Exodus 3:11 Moses says to God “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” This is a common feeling. Yet, God’s promise to Moses, “I will be with you…” is the same promise God has made and makes today to all who try to answer God’s call. We think of Moses as a great man and he was. But at the same time he knew many of the fears and uncertainties we experience. He could be quite angry at times. At times he knew exactly what he was doing yet at other times he had to confront doubts. It was his faith that kept him going – faith that God was with him and faith that God’s will would prevail over those who opposed it. In the following song we hear how Moses was able to accomplish so much because he was open to God working through him.
Imagine Moses standing in the middle of the grandeur and power of the Pharaoh’s court and saying “Let my people go..” and the look on the Pharaoh’s face when he says “Who is the Lord that I should heed him and let Israel go. I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.” While Pharaoh responded with a no and actually made the life of the Israelites even more harsh we know that Pharaoh would encounter the power of God in a way he would not …. could not….forget and would eventually let the people go. While it took a long time and was a difficult journey the children of Israel eventually came to the promised land.
Is there anything in the story of Moses that surprises you? There is something that can speak to people who think they aren’t good enough for God to use. It can be found in Exodus 2: 11-15 and was the incident that led Moses to flee into the wilderness where he was to encounter the burning bush and hear God’s call to him to go back to bring the Israelites out of the land of Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land. In Exodus 4 we hear Moses describing some of his fears – some might even say excuses – but God finds ways to help Moses overcome then. God’s promise to Moses that day, “I will be with you” was kept throughout the forty years in the wilderness until the people did come to the Promised Land, the part of the world we know today as Israel and Palestine.
The prophet Samuel was called to his life’s work as a young boy. Samuel’s mother had made a promise to God that if she had a boy she would dedicate his life to serving Him. While we don’t know his exact age but while he was still a young boy, his mother took him to Shiloh to serve the Lord by helping the High Priest, Eli, who cared for the Tabernacle and supervised the offerings of the sacrifices. To remember what happened next, please read 1 Samuel 3 as it tells how God called Samuel.
Responding to God’s call Samuel became one of the greatest of the prophets challenging the Israelites to be a people of faith during battles with the Philistines and helping people to understand the will of God during the reigns of the Kings Saul and David. The following hymn reflects on God’s call to us.
Reading Isaiah 6; 1 – 8 we hear the question of God to Isaiah, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” Isaiah’s response of faith, “Here I am; send me!”, changes the direction of his life entirely. In his role as prophet he often had to tell people things they did not want to hear and it wasn’t very comfortable at times telling King Saul or King David things they didn’t want to hear. In Isaiah 53, however, we hear what many consider Isaiah’s greatest prophecy- his prophecy about the suffering servant that Christians believe found its’ fulfillment in the crucifixion of Jesus.
You have come to this point in your life where you are responding in faith to God’s call to you just as Moses, Samuel, Isaiah and countless people have done down through the ages. As you lead a life of faith God will be with you as He was with them. It is up to you, however, to take the time to listen and hear God’s call to you. It is up to you to discern the gifts that God, through the Holy Spirit, will give you and discover the ways in which you can use them to do God’s work in this world. It can be a time of both excitement and apprehension. There is excitement that you are growing up and beginning to take on more adult responsibilities. There may be apprehension, however, about where all of this will lead and will you measure up to the task.
As you walk this pilgrimage we call life always remember you do not walk it alone. You are joined in this journey by your fellow Christians around the world. You are upheld in prayer by the people of this Parish and others as well. And never forget the promise our Lord made, as recorded at the end of Matthew, when Jesus, about to ascend to the Heavenly Father, said to the disciples “Lo I am with you always, to the end of the age.”