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“Passing the Torch”

Adams United Methodist Church

Sulphur Springs United Methodist Church

Pastor Missy McCarthy                       

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

October 25, 2020                                       21th Sunday after Pentecost


Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17

Exodus 34: 1-12

Children’s Moment:

Have you ever heard of a mentor?  A mentor is like a teacher – it is a person who helps you and teaches you – not just about school stuff but life stuff.  It is a person who is wise, but also looks out for you. I have had several official and unofficial mentors; Brooke Newell, Alan Rhodes, Diane Deluzio, Mike Weeden, Bekah Solar … and so many others over the years who have helped me and been there to teach me along the way.  Today we hear the story of Moses who gets to see where God is bringing the people, but doesn’t get to go.  He is a human being just like all of us and it is his time for his body to die (at a 120 it was time).  Along the way though he had been mentoring Joshua and teaching him, so that Joshua could lead the people into the Promised Land and into the next step.  God is always surrounding us with people to help us become our very best versions of our selves.  Look around this week who are your mentors and teachers?  Who are the people who help to make you the very best version of yourselves? Your teachers in school?  Is there a friend you always ask for advice or help?  They are mentors too.  What about an aunt or uncle or someone from church who teaches you things?  They are mentors as well.  Thank God for these people this week.  God is giving you them to help you become your best you.  When you say your prayers each night this week, include a prayer for each one of these people. Let’s pray together now.

Reflection: “Passing the Torch”

          Have you ever seen the pintrest fails or the show Nailed it?  They are hilarious.  Not so much because they didn’t work out, but because so many of us can identify with them not working out.  We understand the frustration, and the pain of having a plan in our minds, an expected outcome, spending, time, money and energy to make it happen just for it to flop.  We have all been there.  We have a vision in our heads of how it should be and want to make it happen, going out on our own with our trusty computer screen in hand for directions just to watch it fail spectacularly. That is why when we see them, we can laugh. We have all been there! Many of us could probably have posed for our own versions of the fail pictures - especially at some point during COVID we have tried something and had it fail spectacularly.

          We laugh so hard because we can all relate.  We have all tried something new and had it blow up spectacularly in our face.  We take a step forward just to fall and have to get up and try all over again in a new way.  That has been the process we have been going through most of this year with our ministries and the church itself.  Trying things, some of it working, some of it crashing and not working at all.  Many of you have had to do that in your jobs and with kids in school as well.

So how do we deal with it?  What do we do when things don’t work out as planned?  Over the last eight weeks we have been traveling with the Moses and the Hebrew people who were traveling for 40 years.  We have been watching the struggles, the experiments, the failures, trials and wrestling that they have done.  We have seen Moses challenge God and change God’s mind and lose his temper.  We have watched the people get frustrated and lose their way, repent and try again.  In short, we have watched them live a life just like ours.  One full of ups, downs, and everything in between.  Nothing worked as Moses planned it – absolutely nothing.  Moses had always expected to help his people – he tried on his own and ended up killing an Egyptian.  The Hebrew people resented him and wanted nothing to do with him – sending him running away to start a new life far away, until God calls him and equips him to do it later.  Nothing works out like he thinks it ought to when he thinks it should.  NOT ONE THING.

Today we wrestle with the fact of Moses mortality – he is only human after all.  He must die just like the rest of us.  God told him that none from his generation would enter the Holy land so he can’t either – although God allows Moses to see it.  Moses glimpses into the promised land and catches a vision of what is to be theirs, what is to come.  The Kingdom that is to be.  We are told that on this day he was full of vigor, but in the earlier chapter (33) it says he was tired. Moses does not seem frightened or scared, but there is a sense of awe in seeing all of the promised land, all that is to come for the people he loves. To get a glimpse of what his people will be able to be a part of, I think for many of us that is the game changer.  When we get a glimpse of what we are called into as the people of God it changes how we go about the business of life. 

For me, glimpses of the Kingdom of God, does that in my life as a Christian.  Jesus came and began the in breaking of the Kingdom, giving  us a glimpse.  We are living in between kingdoms now, watching the Kingdom of God break into the Kingdom of Man all the time.  We live in the “in-breaking” of the Kingdom every day.  We see glimpses of the Kingdom of God around us every time we see an extension of God’s love – every time we collect money for Watertown Urban Mission food pantry, or the Red Bird Mission, every time we call one another to check in on each other, or buy groceries for someone in need.  We have the honor and privilege of seeing God work in our world, communities and lives. 

Once in a while we even get glimpses of the communal promised land as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr did when he preached on this text in Memphis on April 3, 1968 in his “I’ve Been to the Mountain top.” sermon. [1]    We see where God is leading us as a people.  When we read the scriptures and hear the descriptions of the Kingdom being a place where children are welcome, and those who are like them are first in line (Matthew 19.14, 20:16), that the poor, persecuted, and those thirsting for justice will be part of the kingdom (Matthew 5), we see a glimpse of the world that is possible – that is supposed to be.  We see hope for a future when the foreigner, the stranger, the neighbor are welcomed as one, and the sword can be made into plowshares (Ephesians 2:19-20, Isaiah 2:4).  Those moments are what keep us going just as they did Moses, even if we don’t see them come to completion while we live in these bodies.  We leave the world a better place than we found it for those we love and who follow us.

We see that God had always worked with Moses and the Hebrew leaders.  He had worked with him with Aaron and then had chosen Joshua as Moses got older, having Moses mentor him long before Moses ever approached this mountain.  Moses chose to work with a young man (Joshua) whom God had led him to not his son, not his grandson, but someone whom God led him to in order to help the next generation.  Moses mentored and worked with Joshua to prepare him to lead the people and have a relationship with God so that he could lead the people into the future Moses glimpsed in that moment on top of the mountain. 

So, I have to ask you, who are your mentors?  Who are you mentoring?  You should have both.  How are you faithfully living into the Kingdom if you aren’t also mentoring?  You don’t always need someone who is older than you as a mentor – I have some that are younger, but you need both in your life.  Who are the wise ones who you can call and bounce ideas off of or questions?  Who gives you a different and important perspective that you normally don’t see?  Who are you intentionally in prayer over?  How can we live into the hope of the Kingdom that God is creating and breaking into this world, if we aren’t doing our part by mentoring those who are next?  If you are not looking for someone to take under your wing and help share leadership with you, you are not doing your job as a Christian.  Look around this week, be in prayer for those who are to come.  Who is it?