Be One, Too: Lead Others to the Promised Land!

This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, October 26, 2014.  This message is meant to freely flow from a moment with children to a conversation with adults who are all seated in the round at tables.  It’s a new style of preaching for me in a new experimental worship experience we’re trying for the next few weeks at Lee Memorial.

 

I need all the kids to join me over here.  I need your help this morning.  I’m blindfolded.  I can’t see; and I need to get to the center table so that I can talk with all the big boys and girls.  Can you help me?

Where are we going?

We all need help from time to time getting where we’re going.  We need people to point us in the right direction when when we can’t see; when we’re lost and don’t know where to go.  We need people—in the church we call them saints—to help us on our journey so that we can be our best for God and neighbor.

Thank you for your help this morning.  I think I’m where I need to be.  You all are little saints.  And for the parents that have a hard time believing it, hang with me for the next few minutes…

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Let’s pray.

Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to live your Word in the world starting today.  It’s in that most holy Word’s name—Jesus the Christ—we pray.  Amen.

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I can tell you from experience that it is hard to blindly follow someone (especially, if they have yet to be potty trained).  I can only imagine what it must have been like for God’s people.  You’ll remember that God’s people where in exile, enslaved to the Pharaoh of Egypt when God calls Moses to lead God’s people out of slavery to the Promised Land: a land which was promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; a land that the people had dreamed of but never knew how to get to.

With many miracles, God lead the people out of Egypt.  For 40 years, the people of Israel blindly followed God to a place that they’d only known in their dreams.

It was hard for the people to follow when they didn’t know where they were going.  They complained.  They had what we call in our house whiney butts.  They complained a lot: and, just like in the Juncker house, complaining didn’t get them very far.

It was hard for the people to blindly follow God through the rugged terrain of the desert to a place they’d never been.  God led them through the wilderness on a path that was anything but straight: a path that on several occasions doubled back on itself; a path that was many times longer than it needed to be (no offense God, but you could have taken the expressway instead of the scenic route that didn’t end up being all that scenic—no one likes looking at that many rocks!).

It was hard for the people to follow God when they didn’t know here they were going.  It was especially difficult when the days turned into week after week after week.  They felt like giving up.

But, when the journey got hard, Moses was there to encourage them to keep moving—to keep walking to the place God had promised.  Moses didn’t know where it was, but he had faith that God would keep God’s promises.  And that’s what saints do.  They encourage us when things get difficult.  They keep us moving toward the Promised Land

In our reading for this morning, the people of God are nearing the end of their journey.  It’s been hard, but Moses has diligently led and encouraged the people to finish the journey.  They’ve nearly reached the land God promised them and their forefathers—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  It’s literally right in front of them.  God leads

[Read Deuteronomy 34:1-12]

Saints lead others to the Promised Land even if they never make it there themselves.  Their reward—their deepest satisfaction–isn’t in arriving at a certain point, it’s in serving God and helping others along the journey.

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, remarks in his notes on verse five that

Moses the servant of the Lord died—He is called the servant of the Lord…a man eminently useful, who had served God’s counsels in bringing Israel out of Egypt, and leading them thro’ the wilderness.  And it was more his honour, to be the servant of the Lord, than to be king in Jeshurun.  Yet he dies.  Neither his piety nor his usefulness would exempt him from the stroke of death.  God’s servants must die, that they may rest from their labours, receive their recompense, and make room for others.  But when they go hence, they go to serve [God] better, to serve [God] day and night in [God’s] temple.  The Jews say, [writes Wesley] God sucked [Moses’] soul out of his body with a kiss.  No doubt [Moses] died in the embraces of his love.[1]

Moses walked with God and he lead others, encouraged them on the journey toward the Promised Land.  That’s what saints do, even if they never fully enter into it.

Saints encourage people to embrace the love of God found in Jesus Christ.  They encourage people on their journey till all are, in the words of Jesus, “complete in showing love toward all.”

I wonder what it might be like if each of us committed today to encourage three people for the next month along their faith journey?  Who would you encourage?

As the Bell Choir plays, I invite you to consider that question.  Who will you encourage?  What three people will you walk along side as they journey toward God’s future?  How might you encourage them? reminding them that they are children of God; a person of sacred worth; a person with a gift and a calling that’s meant to be shared with and transform the world.  Who will you encourage?  I invite you to consider that question in the next few minutes.

[Bell Choir: “How Firm a Foundation”]

Don’t share it with anyone, but whose name did you write down?  Before we sing our last song, I’d like us to pray over those names.  Let us pray…

[1] Notes on Deuteronomy 34:5 in Wesley Notes on the Old Testament by John Wesley at Wesley Center Online <http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/john-wesleys-notes-on-the-bible/notes-on-the-fifth-book-of-moses-called-deuteronomy/#Chapter%2BXXXIV> Accessed October 23, 2014.