This year the lectionary texts will be heard on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. It will be hard for many preachers and congregants to hear this pivotal scripture from Exodus above the rat-a-tat-tat rhetoric of partisanship and triumphalism that still grips our culture at the end of the first post-9/11 decade.
A person in our church was complaining bitterly and threatening to leave the church. His power and influence were waning and he was lashing out. After prayer and reflection, I decided that confrontation would escalate the situation into a polarizing fight. Instead of confrontation, he needed space. Like a child throwing a tantrum, he needed to cry it out and regain his composure.
The life of Moses is so large and significant that it's hard to imagine that we have anything in common with him—until he opens his mouth. As soon as he starts to talk he sounds just like us. When he starts offering excuses, he's not saying anything that we haven't used as reasons for not surrendering our lives to God.
The day began with a worship service that was filled with a bittersweet sense of endings and beginnings. There was a procession of joy as seminary graduates were honored and celebrated. There were tables and tables of food, and young people posing for photos with their arms linked. We heard expressions of gratitude and were introduced to families that we'd heard about but never met.
My grandmother was from a part of the world that no longer exists. As an immigrant to the U.S. between two wars, she saw people raped and murdered and towns plundered. Until she died she continued to express strong feelings about people and places—feelings that seemed only bizarre and paranoid to me, her young granddaughter.
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