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“How do you know?”

Adams United Methodist Church

Sulphur Springs United Methodist Church

Worship Bulletin

Pastor Missy McCarthy  

Music: Sue& Craig Gamet, Mike Tyo, Sharon DelSignore

October 18, 2020   20th Sunday after Pentecost, Laity Sunday


Psalm 99

Exodus 33:12-23

Children’s Moment:

Have you ever wanted to see God?  So did Moses.  He wanted to see and know God.  Knowing is a funny thing.  Once you know something you can’t unknow it.  Once you find out something and really know it with all of who you are, you can’t take it back.  God knows that, and knows that human beings can’t really know all of God.  We just can’t.  God tells Moses, he can glimpse him, but can’t see all of him and even that changes Moses forever.  When Moses comes down from the mountain he glows!!  He can’t unknow what he now knows about God.  His face glows so much other people are scared of him.  They want him to wear a veil because they are so scared by how changed or transformed he is and he can’t change back.  You know what else - he doesn’t want to.   When we learn and grow it is a good thing, we come to know the world in different ways.  God never wants us to be the same, but to always be opened to learning more about God and being changed by God.  So this week as you learn, ask God to teach you about God too, just like Moses!  Be careful though, you will never be the same afterwards.  Let’s pray.

Reflection: “How do you know?”

How do you know something?  How are you sure of something?  This is a topic popular in our day and in Moses time too.  For Moses he wants to know God, and what to do, and how to do it.  He wants to be assured God knows him, and his people.  What does knowing even mean?  When I looked it up in the it shows 24 ways the Bible uses the word “know” throughout its entirety. (Blue Letter Bible) There is not just one clear definition but a multitude of ways in which we know things and come to know God. 

This morning we hear that Moses wants to know more about God and wants assurance that they have not lost the promise of God going with them because of the Golden calf incident.  God had told Moses that he would send them with an angel and yet, that doesn’t seem to be enough for Moses. Moawa actually says you haven’t told me who you are sending with me when God had told him he was sending an angel to lead them to the promised land (Exodus 33.2).  Yet that isn’t enough for Moses - he wants to know which angel, scratch that he wants to challenge the whole angel thing entirely.  He doesn’t want to go anywhere without God.  Isn’t that a good idea?  What would life be like if we refused to go anywhere without God?

Sometimes, when I counsel folks, and I see that they are trying so hard to hold it all together I ask them why?  God can handle it.  I know God can handle it because I see Moses.  Moses wrestles with God all the time.  God wants a relationship with humanity and seeks that out, we are told that and we see examples of that in our Bible over and over again.  With Moses we see him go to God and challenge God and question and ask.  He wants to know, to learn, to grow, to find out, perceive, be instructed, to be made known and to become known.  He also wants to know God more deeply.  Even in the middle of the mess he petitions God and God changes God’s mind - does God always change God’s mind - no, but sometimes.  This is why we know prayer works.  We see examples right here with Moses, God and the Israelites.  It doesn’t mean we always get what we are hoping for as an outcome, but it means that God is not un-moveable, immobile and out of reach.  God is close - as close as the air we breathe.  God listens.  God responds, not always the way we want, but God responds.

We see Moses struggling with the task of ushering these unruly people and now it seems God wants to send him with an angel.  Moses seems to balk with an “I don’t even know their name?  Wait God that isn’t going to work for me.  Haven’t I been doing what you want?  How will we be different from anyone else if you don’t go before us?” 

Truly how can we be different than anyone else if we don’t ask God to go before us in all that we do?  As Moses petitions God, God responds and decides to continue going before the people, God’s self.  

Moses’ desire to know God doesn’t end with just knowing God is with him, he wants to know the entirety of God.  He wants to know all of God and here, God denies Moses.  You can’t know all of God.  We just can’t, like Moses we can catch glimpses of God, but we can’t know all of God.  Throughout Exodus God reveals God’s self to the people.  God gives us God’s name (Exodus 3:14) “I am who I am” or “I will be who I will be” attesting to the ever changing nature of Yhwh, and the indication that we know God as Denis Olsen put it by “watch(ing) to see what God will do in order to know who God is.” (Haley)  In Exodus 33:19 he also says, “I will be king to whomever I wish to be kind, and I will have compassion to whomever I wish to be compassionate.”  We try to fit God in a box, to categorize, simplify, quantify and understand God, and God tries to help us see that we simply can’t.  God is much more fluid, changing and different than that.  Still so many thousands of years later we struggle with this.

We can glimpse God, we can see parts of the divine, we can see where God has been and take note (our God sightings).  We can see where God is transforming things, because one thing is for certain, places and people touched by God or those who even get a glimpse of God are forever changed.  We don’t have to know the entire picture to allow God to change us forever.  

So this week where is God working?  Where are you catching a glimpse of God?  Where are you asking God to go before you because you can’t go without God? Where will you be praying and wrestling with a real relationship with God even when it is messy?  

Additional Readings

Monday – 1 John 1

Tuesday – 2 Peter 3:8-9

Wednesday – John 17:24-26