Epiphany 6

Since January 6th, we have been in a period of time called, the Season after the Epiphany. It is one of the green growing seasons of the church.

 

During these weeks we grow in our understanding of who Jesus is and what he has come to accomplish. When we think about who Jesus is we go back to that difficult Christian math problem of one plus one equals one.

 

Jesus is fully human and fully divine. It stands to reason, then, that as we learn about Jesus we also learn about the divine and the human.

 

In Deuteronomy this morning we are catch up with Moses instructing the Israelites on something very human. These very human Israelites have followed Moses for forty years.  They were together when God split the Red Sea in two. They were together when God delivered the Ten Commandments and the rest of the law. They were together God provided food in the wilderness. And here they are at the precipice of the Promised Land.

 

All the time they have been with Moses one thing has been very clear. God has chosen Israel to be his people.  The Israelites have done almost everything they can to make God’s decision to choose them look very foolish and yet even with all of their disobedience, God sticks with his choice. He sticks with them. He chooses to stay in relationship with them.

 

But we who have been in any kind of relationship know that they are two-way streets. In order for the relationship to grow in depth and strength it takes reciprocation. It takes more than one choice. It takes the two choosing one another.

 

Moses is telling the people he has led for all of these years that God has chosen them but they have to make a choice for themselves.

 

But this is different than two humans loving each other. This is different that the love of parent and child, spouses, or even friendship.  This is about life and death.

 

The land they are about to enter has many God’s.

 

 

 

Some God’s are fertility gods.

 

Some are God’s of war.

 

Some are God’s of wealth.

 

Some are God’s of war.

 

Choosing any of these God’s will lead to some temporary gain, perhaps but ultimately to death.

 

Choosing God, YHWH, is different.

 

Choosing to follow our God means choosing to follow the rules God has given us.

 

God has not given us these rules because of some kind of power trip.

 

God has not given us these rules because he wants to control us.

 

If he wanted that, he would just control us, right?

 

He is very capable of making things without the ability to choose.

 

But when God made us, he made us like himself, in his image.

 

When he chose to make us, he gave us the freedom to choose.

 

And this choice making agency is at the heart of our humanity.

The ability to choose makes us, us.

 

But God knows what good choices and look like and what bad choices look like.

 

He knows that good choices will lead to life not only for ourselves but for our neighbor.

 

He knows that bad choices will lead to death maybe our own and maybe to the death of our neighbor, community and planet.

 

So, God gave us rules, laws, and patterns so that we would know what choices to make.

 

This is why I invited you to take a look at what you let influence you over this last week.

 

For those of you who took some time to think about what you let in and what you kept out, I wonder what you found.

 

Who are you giving the microphone to?

 

We can only follow those whose invitation we here.

 

How often do you listen to God?

 

How often to you make yourself present for his invitation.

 

Because God’s invitations are clear:

 

God invites us to choose our the needy over the powerful.

 

God invites us to choose the sick.

 

God invites us to choose the hungry.

 

God invites us to choose the marginalized.

 

Because in choosing them, we choose life for ourselves and those whom we choose.

 

You might not know that if you don’t put yourself in a posture to receive the invitations.

 

Choosing can only come when we know there is a choice.

In Jesus then we see someone who is fully human.

 

When we look at Jesus we see someone who makes such choices.

 

We see a life that has made such choices over and over again.

 

When we hear the rhetoric of Jesus today we might feel a bit squirmy.

 

I am sure his congregation squirmed a bit themselves.

 

I don’t think I want to take any of the potency from these words.

 

They are supposed to be impressive.

 

By that, I mean they are supposed to leave a mark on us.

 

We are supposed to remember and revere them.

 

I wonder if you’ve ever been on a river.

 

A young river is very squirmy.

 

It twists and turns.

 

Young river almost seem like they don’t know where they’re going.

 

As the years go on the waters slowly erode the banks of these twists and turns.

 

But the longer they flow, the straighter they become.

 

Perhaps some of you have been to the Grand Canyon.

 

Over millions of years a river has cut out the canyon.

 

The path of the river has cut deeper and deeper into the ground.

 

When we took at that river at the bottom of the Grand Canyon we can’t imagine it suddenly taking a left when it has taken a right for a million years.

Perhaps you have seen the ruts on Oregon trail.

 

Sojourners made the choice to follow the trail so many times that deep grooves developed on the path.

 

Each choice to take the path made deeper grooves for the next chooser.

 

That is life of Jesus.

 

He has chosen the law over and over again.

 

We Christians are called to choose life in a way that we couldn’t imagine choosing anything else.

 

We humans are given the power to choose.

 

We Christians are called to choose life so often it barely looks like a choice anymore.

 

Next week we will see what such a life looks like on the Mountain of Transfiguration.

 

But until then is set before us curses and death and blessings and life.

 

God has chosen you and has given you an invitation.

 

Put yourself in a posture to hear the God’s invitation.

 

Know your choices.

 

Finally,

 

Choose life and choose it over and over again.

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