Sunday Homily for September 21; Proper 20 in Revised Common Lectionary
It was my cousin’s wedding. I was the priest. We were in the sacristry joking around. I went to the bathroom. When, I opened the door, a distressed woman was standing there. She said, “Your mic is on!” oops!
…Today we heard (Exodus 16:2-15) the shadow side of the Good News (God sees, God hears, God knows, God is coming down to save…) Because…. God sees, EVERYTHING. God hears, EVERYTHING. God knows, EVERYTHING. We have an open mic. Things not meant for God’s ears to hear are still heard...
God heard and so He rescued the Hebrew slaves. Exodus 15 recounts the miraculous escape and destruction of Pharaoh’s army. Moses and the people sing a canticle of joy. Miriam dances with a tambourine and proclaiming, “Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously, horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.” This is the pinnacle!!!! Salvation!
Yet the very next thing we read is that within three days the Israelites complain against Moses about bitter water. God hears and showed him some wood (cross?) to make the water sweet. God heard, God saved; but did He also notice they were ungrateful whiners?
The God of Grace has covenant expectation (15:26): IF…, if you listen, if you heed, if you do right, I will not treat you as I did the Egyptians---says the Lord.
Today’s reading (Ex 16:2-15) follows immediately after the water miracle. They complain against Moses AGAIN. They demand food and pine for the slave days (which they had hated). God gives them manna and meat; but Moses gives them a warning. “You are complaining against God not me.” It is popular to differentiate between the church (’Man’) and God. The Bible says human ministers are His ambassadors!
In chapter 17, again, there will again complaints about water.
We need to listen and learn from this:
1. God sees and hears; He comes to save; He provides water and food. He redeems His people. He is merciful and kind.
2. The appropriate response is not entitlement, bitterness and endless complaint! We should not test God. Disobedience and Faithlessness are deadly. There are consequences
Whining against God was also directed at the ministry Jesus. People did not like His embrace of the ‘undesirables.’ Today (Mt 20:1-16) Jesus illustrates this attitude. “Not fair” complain the workers in the parable, “You were too generous to these less deserving others. We do not want them to be treated so well….” Many of us feel like we are the ones hard at it all day while others sneak in late, right? We are the ones who really have been busting it, right????? Well, I wonder what the (starving & homeless) Christian survivors in Iraq think? Do they agree that you and I should feel underappreciated and cheated by God? Have we really been hard at it all day for Jesus and the Kingdom? Is it possible that we have identified ourselves with the wrong group of workers in that parable?
God is merciful and saves His children. He is longsuffering and patient. But there is a point where He draws the line.
He drew the line with Israel.
He drew the line with those who rejected Jesus.
He has drawn the line for us.
We need to trust in His mercy but we also need to repent. Really repent, and keep in mind that He hears everything. So whine less; thank and praise more, and start today!