Whose Redemption Story Is this?

Outside Worship at Liberty Baptist Church in Tipton, IN on 8/30/2020

Message Title: Whose Redemption Story Is this?
Theme: Redeemer of Stories
Season: ORDINARY
Main Text: Exodus 3:1-15;
Scripture Reading: Romans 12:9-21
RCL Scripture: Exodus 3:1-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45b; Jeremiah 15:15-21; Psalm 26:1-8; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28
Focus: God invites Moses to be part of the redemption of Israel.
Function: To accept the invitation of Redemption bringers, but let go of the desire to define the route.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Romans 12:9-21 Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. 11 Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! 12 Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. 14 Bless people who harass you—bless and don’t curse them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying. 16 Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status. Don’t think that you’re so smart. 17 Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good.18 If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people. 19 Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. It is written, Revenge belongs to me; I will pay it back, says the Lord.[a]20 Instead, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. By doing this, you will pile burning coals of fire upon his head.[b] 21 Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good.

LORD’S PRAYER

BOOK INTRO: Could I really do a book series without talking about Harry Potter? If you have lived under a rock for the last 20+ years, you may not have heard about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The world was first introduced to this world in 1997 with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

A young boy is orphaned at infancy and raised by his maternal aunt & uncle. When he turns 11, he learns that he is a wizard when he receives an acceptance letter to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. This revelation, in retrospect, explains some odd situations of his childhood. His aunt and uncle had kept this detail a secret as they vehemently opposed anything odd and especially hated magic.

A whole unknown world opens up to Harry as he learns about magic, how his parents really died, and the struggle of good and evil magical forces. One particular cultural lesson involved House Elves.

House-elves do not look like the elves of Lord of the Rings. They are small magical creatures typically found enslaved to wealthy magical families and frequently mistreated. Dobby was Harry’s first house-elf interaction. It wasn’t until later that Harry learned Dobby’s owners were the Malfoys, who abused him terribly. Harry helped to trick Lucious Malfoy into freeing Dobby.

Now Dobby was a unique elf; he had disobeyed orders and also enjoyed being set free. This was not the norm for house-elves; they were loyal, obedient, and lovers of hard work. If you haven’t read the books, you would never know the house-elf of Bartemous Crouch Sr, Winky.

Winky was loyal to the Crouchs and served them no matter the scary, dangerous, or even illegal task they demanded of her. Winky gets fired when she is caught at the scene of a crime (because of orders by her master) with a piece of evidence connected to the crime.

She goes into a drunken stupor, disappointed in herself and feeling as though she disgraced her house-elf family tree. Dobby helps Winky get a job at Hogwarts, where Hermione has taken up the unwanted task of demanding justice for the house-elves. She establishes a club called: Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare. House-Elves maintained Hogwarts behind the scenes. Hermione took up knitting to trick the elves into freedom. 

Ironically enough, most of the house-elves avoided Hermione and her work because they enjoyed their job at Hogwarts and saw Dobby as odd and the condition of Winky as tragic. They did not want freedom.

No matter what, Hermione did not want to listen to the words of House Elves or others connected to house elves. She demanded justice and justice would only be served her way. (Although, I regularly agreed with Hermione that the House-elves didn’t even know how much better wizards could treat them.)

TRANSITION: In our text for today we see Adult Moses, no longer a baby in a basket, in a conversation with God about justice for Israel. God wants to invite Moses to take part in providing justice for Israel. Let’s see how the conversation goes….

SCRIPTURE: Exodus 3:1-15

VS 1-4 Moses was taking care of the flock for his father-in-law Jethro,[a] Midian’s priest. He led his flock out to the edge of the desert, and he came to God’s mountain called Horeb. The Lord’s messenger appeared to him in a flame of fire in the middle of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was in flames, but it didn’t burn upThen Moses said to himself, Let me check out this amazing sight and find out why the bush isn’t burning up. When the Lord saw that he was coming to look, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” Moses said, “I’m here.”

  1. When we last saw Moses, he was weaned from his mother and placed in Pharaoh’s household. Much time has passed since Moses’ infancy.
    1. Pre-Script: Moses ran away from his problems in Egypt
      1. Killed an Egyptian guard in defense of a Hebrew
      1. Ran away to Midian for fear of consequences
      1. Got married to a Midian woman, Zipporah
      1. Tended his father-in-law’s flock
  2. Moses had not only run away from his consequences; he had run away from his people and his God. God was not on Moses’ radar. Nevertheless, God got Moses’ attention with a natural phenomenon.

VS 5-10 Then the Lord said, “Don’t come any closer! Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground.” He continued, “I am the God of your father, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God.” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. Then the Lord said, “I’ve clearly seen my people oppressed in Egypt. I’ve heard their cry of injustice because of their slave masters. I know about their pain. I’ve come down to rescue them from the Egyptians in order to take them out of that land and bring them to a good and broad land, a land that’s full of milk and honey, a place where the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites all liveNow the Israelites’ cries of injustice have reached me. I’ve seen just how much the Egyptians have oppressed them. 10 So get going. I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

  1. God saw the pain of his people and wanted it stopped!
    1. My people have suffered, and it isn’t ok.
    1. Repeat: My people have suffered in Egypt. It’s time for a change.
    1. I’m sending you, Moses, get going!

What does Moses say back… to the burning bush?

VS 11-15 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and to bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 God said, “I’ll be with you. And this will show you that I’m the one who sent you. After you bring the people out of Egypt, you will come back here and worship God on this mountain.” 13 But Moses said to God, “If I now come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they are going to ask me, ‘What’s this God’s name?’ What am I supposed to say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am.[b] So say to the Israelites, ‘I Am has sent me to you.’” 15 God continued, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever; this is how all generations will remember me.

  1. That’s right, Moses talks back to the burning bush. Moses doesn’t respond to the suffering of his people or how he was spared and lived in Pharaoh’s house in safety. Moses only responds to the responsibility expected of him. God you want me to do what?! You want me to put myself at risk?
    1. God assures Moses that he’ll be with him.
  2. But once again Moses protests: Ummm… who are you?!?
    1. Moses to God: So, you say you’ll be with me… cool, cool but …umm… which God should I tell them is helping them out?
    1. God gives Moses his name: call me Yahweh (I Am Who I Am or I Am)
      1. God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
      1. Know my name!

EXPLANATION & INTERPRETATION:

  1. God reached out to Moses while Moses was tending the flock. God got Moses’ attention with the burning bush. Through this conversation God invites Moses to be part of the rescue, restoration, & redemption of Israel. God revealed God’s self to Moses. God even presented Moses with God’s name.
    1. AND STILL MOSES WAS HESITANT.
    1. Post-Script: Moses is hesitant for many reasons
      1. I don’t know who you are & Israel doesn’t know who you are
        1. My name is Yahweh
      1. Israel won’t listen to me & Pharaoh won’t listen to me.
        1. I’ll give you the words & powers to prove I’m with you.
      1. Also, I can’t speak well.
        1. Fine, take your brother.

APPLICATION: To accept the invitation of Redemption bringers, but let go of the desire to define the route.

  1. Book Redemption: We learn in the epilogue of the Harry Potter series that Hermione finishes her education and works for the Ministry of Magic. She was so upset by the welfare of House Elves that she pursued a career in the Ministry of Magic to change things working within the system.
    1. If you keep diving into the lore of Harry Potter, Hermione eventually becomes the Minister of Magic (equivalent to the American President or British Prime Minister)
    1. Hermione had to adjust her goals to bring about change.
  2. If I’m honest, I can get stuck somewhere between Moses & Hermione for justice. Either I am fearful for my safety or I can want to set the terms of redemption.
    1. God’s redemption comes on God’s timing and in God’s way. We don’t get to choose WHO gets redeemed; that is under God’s judgement.
      1. ME & BLM: I can feel that way about the Black Lives Matter movement. Yes, I recognize healing needs to happen. We cannot deny there is pain surrounding racism. But I catch myself asking: Can you do it my way? Can I define what is enough healing or reparation?
    1. God’s got the itinerary; We don’t get to choose HOW others gets redeemed; that is under God’s judgement. God may ask you to give something up that isn’t a problem for someone else. We can’t play the redemption comparison game. The outline of our little redemption stories will not be the same.
      1. We need to let go of defining the outline of everyone’s little redemption story. ‘But! But! He still cusses! She still drinks! I don’t approve of their sexual practices! They didn’t follow the police officer’s commands!’
        1. We are all a work in progress. It is not our job to compare our progress and determine a ‘winner.’
      1. Let’s take a non-religious example for a moment: Diabetics & Carbs. Yes, we’re all supposed to be reasonable with our carb intake, but diabetics must intentionally watch their carb consumption. 
    1. My job is to follow God faithfully, not define the route. My job is to adjust my own expectations and understanding through God’s guidance. My role is to tell each person God loves them no matter where they are in the redemption process.
      1. ME & BLM: I need to listen to the pains of the BLM movement without the need to define their route to healing or offer Band-Aids for the festering infection of racism. I need to continue to look for ways that I can do better when I know better.
        1. My role is to ask myself:
          1. Am I listening?
          1. Am I learning?
          1. What ways can I adjust?
      1. What ways is God asking you to listen, learn, and adjust?

CONCLUSION: God invited Moses to be part of the justice and redemption of Israel. Moses was hesitant. We, like Moses, have received an invitation. The invitation is there, but it’s God’s itinerary, not ours.

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