|THE JOYFUL NOISE
As we enter the New Year, let us desire to know God better this year. We turn to the wilderness journey of the Hebrew people to get hints of the process of knowing.
Moses in the land of the wilderness journey has an idea upon the mountain! He implores God for the people, and he uses language that reconnects them to their God: "O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?".
He reminds God of God's promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their descendants -- the people camped at the foot of the mountain. And in the end, God relents and does not bring his wrath down on the people. Instead, Moses heads down to clean up the mess
Well, how does that exchange between Moses and God help us in our quest to know God?
On one level, it seems to present God as one who is as changeable as we are. Perhaps what we are reading is simply how Moses characterized his meeting with God, anthropomorphizing the Lord.
But whatever the case, Moses is one who met with God on a level that few others have ever done, and what he recounts is that God, whose first inclination was to punish a disobedient people, ends up not sending his wrath down on the people of Israel.
About God's casting aside his plan to destroy the people, commentator Frank Anthony Spina says, "This startling behavior on God's part was not a function of divine weakness, but of divine grace.
This is part of a biblical pattern: Judgment is never God's final word."
So in our quest to know God, it is important to view grace as his primary characteristic.
This is not to suggest that there were no consequences to Israel for their great disobedience.
Read the rest of the chapter and see that Moses dealt harshly with those who would not repent; he even had some of the people put to death.
Still, God stays his hand, and by his grace, the people of Israel eventually arrive at and enter the land he has promised to them.
Grace is rightly defined as unmerited favor. It is the startling act of God working on behalf of the very ones who have violated his covenant and substituted gods of their own making for him.
Grace can be understood by contrasting it to mercy, which is another divine attribute. Mercy is God's withholding punishment we deserve; grace is God's giving us blessings we don't deserve.
How important is it when we have failed to live up to our promises to him, that God still live up to his promises to us?
Yes, there's consequences of disobedience. Yes, there's accountability. But there's also grace, and any image of God that leaves that out is no more than a calf of gold!
Writer Kathleen Norris tells of being at an airport departure gate one day where she noticed a young couple with an infant. The baby was staring intently at other people, and as soon as he recognized a human face, no matter if it were young or old, pretty or ugly, bored or happy or worried-looking, he would respond with absolute delight. Norris writes:
It was beautiful to see. Our drab departure gate had become the gate of heaven. And as I watched that baby play with any adult who would allow it, I ... realized that this is how God looks as us, staring into our faces in order to be delighted, to see the creature he made and called good, along with the rest of creation.
And, as Psalm 139 puts it, darkness is as nothing to God, who can look right through whatever evil we've done in our lives to the creature made in the divine image.
Possibly "only God and well-loved infants can see this way," Norris says, but it means that God can look right through our guilt trips, our failures and our agonies, our phoniness, our invented deities and our sins, and see someone he loves.
Call that divine ability the grace of God. And that's a really good idea. And one that will last.
Grace and peace be ours in the coming year as we make our life journey into an uncertain future.
IN OUR THOUGHTS AND IN OUR PRAYERS:
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OPPORTUNITES TO SERVE
WHEATLAND FOOD PANTRY
CALENDAR & COOKIES
GATHERINGS & MEETING IN JANUARY
JANUARY BIRTHDAYS & ANNIVERSARIES
UNITED METHODIST WOMEN
The Salvation Army sends their thanks to those from our church who served as bell ringers for this local charity.
We held an election of officers. The UMW officers for 2020 will be:
A new schedule for 2020 was discussed and will be posted on the UMW bulletin board, will be sent by
Any ladies who attend this church are invited to attend UMW meetings on the second Thursday of each
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COMMUNITY DINNER & GAME NIGHT – JANUARY 12