Thoughts from the Pastor
Exodus 3:11- “But Moses said to God,
If you could ask any question of God, what would it be? Would it be about your past, your present, your future? Would you ask a question about who God is, or maybe why something happened, or perhaps what you should do in a certain perplexing situation? If you could only ask God one question and know you would receive a clear answer, what would it be? One of the most defining moments for the Hebrew people was the moment when God first appears to Moses in the burning bush and he got a chance to ask such a question.
You know the story, Moses is living in the wilderness herding livestock when he hears God speaking to him from a burning bush. When Moses goes over to see what is happening God calls out to him. First God tells him that it is the God of his past ancestors. Second God tells him that he is the God who hears the Hebrew’s current cries for help under oppression. Lastly, God tells Moses that God is going to work in the future to free them all. All Moses can ask at this point is, “who am I that I should go!?”
This moment is so important because in it YHWH answers the question, “who are you” not by a complex theological doctrine or statement of faith (though there is nothing wrong with either of these), but by responding to the deepest questions of God’s people. You see, the Hebrews had been in brutal slavery for generations. They must have wondered if the God that their grandparents told them about was real or was ever going to return. In that moment the great question of the time was, “who will save us?” This is how God chooses to describe God’s self to Moses. “Who am I? You ask. I am the God who hears your cries, your great questions, and answers them with action. Moreover, who are you? You ask. You are the one I will use to make it happen.”
As we search for God now and wonder about the future of the Church, perhaps we should be paying closer attention to the questions being asked, both around and within us. What are the great questions of our time? Could it be that most people are asking “how will I pay my mortgage” or “how am I going to afford child care?” Could it be, “why don’t I have any purpose” or “how am I going to find friends who I can enjoy life with” or “why do I feel so alone?” Could it be that God is calling us to be open to hearing the deep and honest questions people have so that we can respond with God’s works of love and mercy and Justice? Perhaps, this is one of the loudest and clearest ways God seeks to speak into the world. Responding to the deep questions of “how” and “why” that exist among us with answers of faith, hope and love that are first seen in our hands and then heard from our lips.
As we end the vacation months of Summer and enter into autumn, may we be willing to search out and listen to the questions that surround us. May we be offering to pray for others and ask others to pray for us. May we be keeping our eyes open to the suffering and celebrations of those around us so that the Spirit of God may enter in and do its good work though us.
~ Pastor Mike Ozaki ~