Sermon – October 26, 2014
The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, CSW
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Corbin, KY
The LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, `I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.” Deuteronomy 34:4
Please be seated.
Recently, my children, Scot and Carrie and I had the opportunity to tell someone how much they meant to us and how they affected our lives. It was my second husband, Fred’s, birthday and his wife Daphne asked for people to send photos and memories to Fred to celebrate his birthday. Fred is in treatment for some pretty serious cancer and Daphne thought the memories and photos would be fun for Fred.
So often in life we do the best we can, don’t we? Sometimes we know when we are doing something that someone appreciates and other times, we never know. I know there are many ways that my life is different because Fred was so supportive of the things I wanted to do in life. Even though we divorced, I am grateful for the part he played in my life. I am also grateful for the ways he was a father to my two children.
How wonderful to see the words my children wrote on Fred’s Facebook page. Scot wrote:
“Thank you for everything that you have done for me. Thank you for all of the trips to the crazy places that I never wanted to go to, but I was always glad I went. Thanks for the trips down to the 7 Eleven where I could NEVER make up my mind. Thank you for letting me play poker before it was the cool thing to do. Thank you for bringing me on the camping trip to find the next place to have the next 4th fest. And especially thanks for stepping up and being my father when you didn’t have to!”
Carrie wrote: “You chose to be a father to Scot Brown and I; you helped raise us and loved us and hold us in your heart. I’m sure there were times we didn’t make it easy for you, but you didn’t let go. I remember you telling me that I was so good at science and math that I better find a career in it. And look at me now I teach science! You helped shuttle me around to dance recitals, choir recitals, band practices, parades, and events. … I’ve tagged you in photos that I could find to help you remember all you’ve done and how much more you have left to do! Hope it’s a wonderful year full of love, health, and peace!”
To see what my children remembered and what meant so much to them…what helped them grow into the people they are today… was heartwarming for me, reminding me that we can never tell how our interactions shape the future. Many times we never hear words as clear as those of my children to their stepfather. Sometimes we never know.
Today in Deuteronomy, we hear how God showed Moses the Promised Land. God called Moses to stand up to the oppressive enslavers of the Israelites, leading the people from slavery into freedom. Then God called Moses to lead the people in the wilderness for 40 years, until new generations could be born, who could see the vision of freedom and live into the vision of freedom, not as a reaction to having been enslaved, but as an embodiment of trust in God who was with them the whole way.
But Moses was not going to lead the people into the Promised Land. Remember how the people were wandering in the wilderness and started to complain because they had no water? Remember how they wanted to go back to their oppressors, rather than be without water? Well, in Numbers Chapter 20, God tells Moses God will provide water for the people. In verse 8, God says, “Take the staff and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water.”
So Moses and Aaron gather everyone together before the rock and in verse 10, Moses says, “Listen, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses strikes the rock twice. Plenty of water comes out. But do you see what Moses did? Moses did not say that God would provide the water. Moses acted like he and Aaron were going to provide the water when he said, “shall we….” Moses confirmed his own actions by striking the rock, rather than obeying God’s instructions to command the rock to release its water. Moses did not trust God or God’s words and did this his own way.
As a result, in verse 12, God tells Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” Now, it’s nearly 40 years later and God lets Moses look upon the Promised Land, but reminds him he shall not go into the Promised Land.
And that is so true of how we are called to live our lives. We live them in today, yet we must be ever mindful that our actions today carry on and into places we will never see. We may be tempted to live only in the now…only in the short term…only find valuable those things whose results we can see right here and right now.
But that’s not what God requires of us.
Today is pledge Sunday when we turn in our pledges in the offering plate…when we, with God’s help and direction, say how much of what God has given to us, we will return to God for God’s work through the community of St. John’s Episcopal church.
Look at the church…. Even physically in what we can see and touch. Who sat in that pew you were sitting in? Someone sat there many years ago…many years before you were born, even. Their gifts of time, talent and dollars made sure that pew is here for you today. They could not imagine, sitting there when they did, how the church would look today or what the church would be doing today. They could not see you…had no vision of you. Yet, they gave, so St. John’s would be here for you.
Like Moses, we are asked to do our part…to use our talents, dollars and skills in God’s service…to lead people through the wilderness, if God asks. This is our call…to do as much as God asks of us, knowing God may let us see it with our eyes, but not cross over there.