Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23— Matthew 22:1-14 and Philippians 4:1-9
I see a common theme through our Scriptures today. We may get it right, we may get it wrong, but through it all God keeps loving us with a relentless love. God has become totally vulnerable for us. We break God’s heart but God keeps taking us back, God keeps saving us.
The psalm tells in a different way a story from Exodus 32 about how the people made a golden calf, while Moses was up the mountain talking with God. He was away for forty days. While he was gone the people decided they Needed something physical to worship, recognizable and easy that they could see.
When God saw what was happening, God wanted to end it all right there. It was a great pain that God experienced- after working so hard to save these people from slavery, providing for them over and over again, leading them and now giving them the law in which God said explicitly- have no other god before me- they go and make another god. It hurts God who has loved these people and done so much to save them. God’s pain comes out in anger and that anger is expressed to Moses.
My colleagu Collete Broady Grund says “Ours is a God who continually becomes vulnerable for the sake of covenantal relationships, and this means that God allows Godself to be hurt by us. It is often said that grief is the natural consequence of love, and this is never more true than for God. Because God has a heart fully open to imperfect people, that heart is continually broken. “
Moses listens to God’s rage and pain but then appealed to God’s sense of legacy – what will the Egyptians say? Saying too, you’ve done so much, don’t give up on us now. And so God relented. God let them live, and kept on being their God.
People went on to sing songs about it – God you are so good you do so much for us this psalm 106 is one of those songs.
We sing to remember how we got it so wrong that time, we sing to God, help us to not get it that wrong again.
That was early in the people’s relationship with God as their God and their being God’s people. We might think we have learned to do better- but there is evidence that we too worship other versions of that golden calf.
What do we worship today? Convenience? Wealth? Power? Our accomplishments? Being right?
So much of what gives us a sense of security has been stripped away over these 7 months. What do we turn to when we feel God is not acting fast enough? That might be what we are worshiping more than God. I don’t want to get in to this area too much but leave it for your own reflection- that we still struggle in ways to worship only the Lord our God, and whenever we do, we break God’s heart a little.
we keep getting it wrong, to different degrees on different days. But God keeps wanting us to see how god has been with us all along, providing for us, saving us, even from ourselves. Even when we hurt god, God’s infinite love, steadfast faithfulness continue to be for us. God loves us with a relentless love.
In the person of Jesus Christ we know that infinite love and steadfast faithfulness, God’s willingness to be hurt and keep on loving us, were all revealed to the strongest degree. The parable of the wedding party has some parts that are hard to understand but what I see clearly is how even when the first round of guests rejects the invitation, the king, who I think represents God, says, go get anyone we overlooked. Let’s make sure no stone is unturned so that I can bless people with this great celebration. Go find the people way out there, the ones who don’t usually get invited to the party- the marginalized, the left out- go get whoever you can find so we can have a great party. God is hurt by the rejection by some, but doesn’t give up. The new marriage covenant, must be celebrated. So yes we do celebrate we do rejoice and we do continue to look beyond ourselves and wonder, who else does God want to include? and we take God’s attitude of not giving up on inviting, sharing the celebration with others. Sometimes we get this one wrong. Sometimes we want to stick with the people we know and not go to the metaphorical far away places or marginalized people- but God still won’t give up on us, or on anyone.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he talks about Euodias and Syntyche- two women. Two women who were partners with Paul in the work of spreading the gospel of transforming lives. They got it right in doing that work, in going to the Philippians- but it seems they had a disagreement. Not hard to imagine, many people do. They Got it right, but still were not perfect. Paul doesn’t seem overly concerned, but he does want the whole community to embrace them and help them.
Paul’s direction for the community is that they help each other through the parts where we get it wrong. We all can help each other get it more right.
The church sometimes lifts this verse up and does not focus on how these women were partners with Paul, apostles sent out to spread the gospel, but that they were quarrelsome. That they couldn’t get along, oh typical women.
I think we get it wrong when we pick the little needle from the haystack and use it to put down a whole gender. So many depictions of followers of Jesus are all male. But so many of the actual workers were female! We get it a little wrong. So we keep wrestling with God and God is still faithful.
It’s easy to think God is far away, and not be faithful. Like the Israelites.
It’s easy to focus on what’s going wrong. What’s going wrong in us, around us. Churches with scandals, unfortunately that’s still happening, churches not being faithful to God, churches focusing on arguments and not following Jesus as well as they could.
It’s easy to focus on COVID 19 and how awful things are – how little responsibility leaders take for doing things to help people. How much we want to get back to normal- how we want comfortable, fun, life back.
I want to honor this moment with all that it brings- the safety measures that are necessary, the grief and lament for so much gone wrong, so many lives lost-
But also notice the beautiful and the good. How God is still being faithful as we muddle along, sometimes getting it right, sometimes getting it wrong. Paul says, whatever is beautiful and of God, think about that. Whatever worries you have, you can bring them to God. And then find the way to rejoice even in the midst of suffering. Peace that passes understanding. An awareness of the true presence of God not because we get everything right, not because we don’t have a care in the world, but because God has chosen to come near to us. God keeps choosing us.
God chose to hear the cries of the Hebrews in Egypt and rescue them
God chose to lead them through the desert and provide for them food, water, and a continuous presence
God chose to make a covenant with them
God later chose to come to us in the person of Jesus Christ
And show all over again the ways God chooses us
And leads us in ways that lead to goodness, peace, and joy.
And still sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it wrong but God will keep choosing us keep saving us. Even when we cause God pain and grief. God has become vulnerable out of that great great relentless love. We have come to know this love, and so we keep on, trying, and God keeps loving us through it. We may break God’s heart but God keeps taking us back, God keeps saving us, in every way God is faithful.
That certainly is worth celebrating. Amen