Life in God’s Service
By Hilary Wenzel - August 27, 2023
Life in God’s Service– (Romans 12:1-8, Exodus 1:8-2:10)
Sometimes when I look at the Sunday lectionary choices, it’s hard to connect to them, (whether the passage is from the Hebrew Bible, Psalms, the Gospels or Letters). Sometimes I search the lectionary calendar for a reading I like, and pick that date. In any case, I spend time reading about and pondering the choice that seems most promising to be a message for me and hopefully, for others.
I scheduled to talk today because it fit my calendar. As it happened, I found 2 passages that I liked.
The first was Exodus 1:8-2:10. It’s the story introducing Moses’ birth. It’s a very short introduction to the story of the liberation of the Hebrew slaves from Pharoah’s Egypt and their establishment as God’s people. But it’s a long passage to read twice in a church service.
So I chose Romans 12: 1-8, Paul’s advice to the Roman churches on how to live together and know and do God’s will with the gifts we’ve been given.
I see parallels between the 2 readings. They both happen in a time of fear and danger and oppression. They both show how people acting from their unique lives can honor and advance God’s will in community. Our time and lives may not be so different.
Did I say I like the Baby Moses story? I was struck by the difference between the new Pharoah acting from his fear of losing power and the actions of the God-fearing midwives. I was impressed that 5 women from different stations and stages of life, and at no small risk, could use what they know to act from the heart for the sake of life and community.
I’m going to read that story to you now from the Good News Translation. See if any of it strikes a chord with you. And see if you find connections with Paul’s advice for the Romans.It begins generations after Joseph and his brothers’ families were looked on favorably in Egypt.
2 women with a sacred, healing calling confronted by a horrible choice…
A mother struggling to keep her family safe…
A young daughter / elder sister keeping watch…
A woman of privilege and influence…
Each risking what she can in that moment to undo the will of a king driven by fear to protect his power and control.
I hope you will let these passages from Romans and Exodus, 2 different distant times, live with you this week. I hope you will know that God is a transforming power, whether through our small choices and acts of kindness or when lives are on the line.
Saul began his transformation into Paul when he was struck blind and helpless and dependent on strangers. He called this God’s gracious gift, because it transformed him by a complete change of his mind. He tells us that though we have different gifts, we are joined together when we share them in accord with God’s desire for the world.. We may not know our gifts yet. We may have many or a few. Or we may have lost some through life’s challenges. Let’s start by making a gift of ourselves, our presence, an open heart, a “Yes” face, a smile, a wave, a compliment. Let’s follow where God leads us.