The Crowd’s Four Lines

Sermon for Sunday, April 2, 2023 || Palm/Passion Sunday A || Matthew 26:36 – 27:56

At the end of today’s service, we will present the Passion Gospel, the story of Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, and death. We will read it like a play, with myself and others taking on the various parts. One of the parts is the crowd, and that’s where you come in. If you follow along in your program, you will notice about two-thirds of the way through the reading that you, the members of the congregation, are playing the part of the crowd. You have four lines, and I’d like to spend a few minutes during this short sermon to talk through those four lines in order to prepare you to say them.

Continue reading “The Crowd’s Four Lines”

God’s Name (October 3, 2012)

…Opening To…

I am a flower quickly fading (here today and gone tomorrow)
A wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind.
Still you hear me when I’m calling; Lord, you catch me when I’m falling,
And you’ve told me who I am: I am yours. (Casting Crowns)

…Listening In…

But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” (Exodus 3:13-14; context)

…Filling Up…

In Exodus 3, Moses asks God what God’s name is. God responds: “I am who I am.” (Other translations of the cryptic response range from “I create what I create” to “None of your darn beeswax what my name is.”) The awkward English rendering of the Hebrew preserves the root of God’s divine name, which is the verb “to be” (hayah in Hebrew). When Moses asks God what God’s name is, God responds with something like, “I have be-ing and I bestow be-ing and that’s all you need to know.”

As we said yesterday, the most fundamental thing I can say about myself is that I am. I can say this because the God that created me gave me be-ing. Indeed, God is the very foundation, the very ground, on which my be-ing is established. When God says to Moses, “I am who I am,” God is reminding Moses that God created him and now provides a structure through which Moses’ be-ing can be realized.

With all these heavy words like foundation and being flying around, it is easy to miss the intimacy of the moment between God and Moses. They are alone on the mountain and the burning bush blazes nearby. God has just called Moses to the new life of leading the people of Israel out of Egypt. But Moses cannot accept the call until he asks God some personal questions. In the Bible, the act of naming or renaming leads to deeper relationship (Abraham, Sarah, and Jacob all receive new names from God, among others). When Moses asks God what God’s name is, God reveals the divine name to Moses. Through this revelation, God assures Moses that God is. And Moses can accept his own new identity.

…Praying For…

Dear God, because you are who you are, I can be the person you would have me be. I give thanks that in you I have found my identity; in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, knowing that you are the foundation of all creation. I exist because you have spoken and loved me into existence.