Saturday, October 8, 2016

Why Did You Do it - Exodus 32

Why Did You Do it Aaron?
Tony E Dillon Hansen

A sermon based upon 
Exodus 32:1-14
Luke 23:34 Exodus+32&version=NRSV 

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

In the wake of storms and floods let us remember those that are struggling with what nature has brought to them. May they, their families and colleagues find grace and hope in these times. 

In the spirit of our scripture reading, the Chicago Cubs and legendary sportscaster, Harry Cary, “Holy cow!?”

For us here today, I would like to consider the question of How easily we forget the lessons of yesterday for the temptation of today.  Let us consider, How easily we get bored or get roped into doing something we know we should not do? Consider how do you make up for our own mischief and big mistakes?

So lets do a summary what has transpired so far.

Many trials, locusts, bloody rivers, and lots of deaths occurred while we are in Egypt to free the slaves to make this journey to Israel.  Moses develops a speech impediment to prove to Pharaoh his obedience.  Moses is now considered leadership with his brother Aaron to take the Jewish slaves to this “promised land.”  By “some” miracle, they cross a large sea and did not have to face the wrath of the Egyptian army.

We get to Mt Sinai, and Moses decides to go for a long talk and walk (a sabbatical) with God in the mountain where he is to receive the Torah from God. Unlike a sabbatical today, Moses does not tell anyone how long he was going to be. The people are quick to forget why they are there, what happened to get them there, or where Moses is. They begin to cry for something to relieve the boredom and questions — they start some mischief.  

‘When the cat is away, the mice will play’, as the saying goes.  

This sounds like some mischievous times in my youth as I can recall some times when my mother would go to the store and rather than taking us with her into the store… (I don’t know why she wouldn’t think that would be great fun.) …Mother would say something like “I will just be five minutes.”  Mmm-hmm. 

She would wisk away and soon enough, we kids start picking on each other in our boredom and eventually turns into some nasty spells.  When Mom returns, there would be some tempers flaring as she tries to put bags away, get in the car, heavy scoldings and kids screaming. You may think Mom may want to leave us right there in the parking lot.

Yet, this is not going to settle well with God or Moses. 

I guess Moses thought leaving the people with Aaron would be a responsible idea, but Aaron gets roped into building this calf.  Guess he was bored too or could it be a little sibling rivalry?? After all, Moses was getting all of this attention from this mysterious God in the mountains. 

It might be worthy to remember that Aaron, Moses’s older brother and once-upon-a-time head priest, may feel a bit used, abandoned and stiffed by his brother Moses.  Perhaps, Aaron wants to restore the feeling of being the leader instead of being a perpetual sideshow. Therefore, it might not be too difficult to be the center of attention again.  Maybe or maybe not. 

This “un-holy cow” was going to test people, and I am sure that Moses uses different words to describe this “bull” to Aaron, which also describes the excuses Aaron provides for this.  

We know that later passages suggest that Aaron tries to shed blame for the misdeed, and we know that Moses casts deadly punishment on the camp — which God had not done. We have to ask, will God forgive us this time?

Through all of this, We end on a note of compassion and mercy from God when Moses reminds God of the covenant.  Through this intercession, we avoid a serious catastrophe, and further, the LORD continues to walk with the people into the Promised Land and beyond — Even though so many participate in the bull project.

Even though God does so much for us, we continue to fail. What do you when you fail: learn and correct, or forget and dodge? We have to remember that when we fail it is up to us to correct our behavior because God remains there for us, to walk with us, and incidentally, is still speaking to us.

Through Jesus, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, and more, God spells out the mission of love, mercy, social justice and compassion that we are to uphold. 
Even though we fail so many times, that Someone still loves us.  But Why? 

As revealed in Genesis, we were made in God’s image and then provided the tools and creativity to take care of the world that was made for us.  God has a lot invested in us, and to just toss us away, that would be throwing away that tremendous investment. 

Plus, God still believes in us —thanks in part to Moses and later Jesus. Maybe, it is for this reason that God continues the work with us— hopefully, we understand how lucky we are.

Even during my mother’s angriest tirades at our wonton mischiefs, she was hurt too; 
we, children, would plea for mercy, 
and she would end up finding some way to remind us of her undying love for us.

Maybe we might share a little gratitude to God for all of the times that we have tested the divine patience —to be grateful that we are not alone despite all of those times.
Perhaps that is how lucky I am to have my parents and how lucky we all are that God loves us.

Thanks Be to God.