Bishop Election Devotional for March 24, 2019
By Rev. Heidi Binstock (WestSide Lutheran, Sioux Falls)
Walking with my middle school children one day, I listened as they made some observations about parents. They noticed that parents, in general, yell a lot. This observation came after having spent some overnights with family and friends, in addition to what they knew about their own parents (yes, me). I probably shouldn’t rejoice that other parents were yelling at their kids, but it was nice to know that I wasn’t alone! They asked me why parents yell and I said, “Because when I ask you politely and in a normal voice the first five times, you don’t hear me.” They paused at this, and then laughed. It was funny to them that their ears were attuned only to my loud invitations (ok, commands), and not my polite ones.
Sometimes, we need something to grab our attention. A yelling voice, or, maybe, a burning bush. In Exodus 3, Moses has fled Egypt and picked up a life in which he seems to be hoping to go unnoticed. Such a move never works with God, however, who finds Moses anyway and gets his attention by showing up in a burning-but-not-consumed bush, as effective for God as a parent’s yelling. Having gotten his attention, God then gives Moses a promise: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Moses has a god and it is not one of his own choosing, but it is one who has chosen him. I am, God says. As is God’s way, God starts with a word of assurance.
Following the promise, God gives the command. It’s not an ask, it’s a command. Moses hears it as a rather ridiculous one, however. If you read a bit further, to verse 11, Moses says as much when he responds, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” We human beings are always trying to make it about us and what we think we are capable or incapable of doing. But it is not about us. There is a job to do and God needs someone to do it. God doesn’t make a list of Moses’ qualifications for the job. It is not necessarily a compliment to Moses that he has been tapped for the task; indeed, it will be a burden. But somebody has to do it.
In our human tendency, we tend to make the role of bishop about us and may even wonder about ourselves and each other, Who am I, that I should be bishop? Or, who is he — or she — that they should be bishop? There is a job to do, and someone must do it. We will elect someone, and someone will do it. But whoever does it will do it not to be elevated or admired or promoted but because it needs to be done. Someone needs to and will bear that burden. But he or she – as we all do — will do so with a promise, for the promise Moses hears from God is the same promise we receive in the first commandment (I am the Lord your God!), and it is the same promise we receive in Christ, who reveals that God is our God even through sin and death. Nothing can stop God’s promise — not even the role of bishop. Thanks be to God!
LET US PRAY
Good and gracious God, you are God, and we are not. Grab our attention and open our ears to your promise, that we may lean into it and trust that no matter what, we are in your care, even when the task seems too big. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.
ELW 622 “Neither Death nor Life”
From what are you hiding right now? How has God grabbed your attention in the past? When has the task seemed like too much, and yet God provided? When has your fear gotten in your or other’s way? How have you seen God do extraordinary things through ordinary people? Are you hearing God’s promise in Christ for you? If not, who can proclaim it to you? Find them!
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