Being included and being enough – Thoughts on Moses’ calling (Exodus 3:1-12, 4:1-9)

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of leading a day-retreat for The Salvation Army’s divisional (regional) prayer co-ordinators. The retreat was based around these thoughts on Moses and his calling.

 

Invitations can say so much. If a friend asks you along to their dinner party because ‘you’ll be the life and soul’ then you could be forgiven for feeling under pressure. If a friend says, ‘Just come as you are and we’ll get take-away,’ then a wholly different evening is in prospect.

 

A calling is basically an invitation, and when we listen to the language of that invitation, it gives us some idea of what is (or isn’t) expected of us. Are we being invited for a relaxing evening with take-away, or are we expected to make the evening go with a swing? Since Moses was being invited to lead a whole nation out of slavery, we might reasonably assume this was a call to deliver something immense – far more immense than livening up a dinner party. But when we examine the burning bush encounter more closely, we discover that God’s invitation to Moses wasn’t so much an invitation to super-hero-dom as to just being himself.
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Book review by Robert Weston

Author and teacher Robert Weston just sent this lovely review of

Prayer in the Making: Trying it, talking it, sustaining it

It is rare to come across a book that succeeds so successfully in inspiring both those who are new to the faith and those who have been walking with the Lord for many years to find new ways to develop their prayer life. The twelve themes that Lyndall introduces – Encounter, Worship, Listening, Stillness, Action, Intercession, Strategies, Restoration, Voice and body, Scripture, Warfare and Resilience – lead the reader almost without them noticing into the presence of God and make each theme and concept their own.

The stories Lyndall tells of significant moments in her life are both relevant and impactful, as are the delightful retelling of Scripture passages, which pinpoint how the power of prayer was at work in each one. Taken together they provide a platform and a launch pad for the reader to go as deep with the Lord as they want and are able – a process greatly helped by making good use of the threefold invitation at the end of each section: Trying it, Talking it and Sustaining it.

Above all, Lyndall reminds us that prayer is action, which in turn leads to further action. 

Inner Room – a new app from 24-7 Prayer to help you pray

Do you find you turn to your phone when you have a few spare moments? This new app from 24-7 Prayer helps you turn your phone into a mini prayer space, so those few moments can become a few moments of conversation with God.

https://innerroom.app/

And some more detailed info about the app here …

The Ark of the Covenant

Today I had the privilege of preaching at St. Andrews United Reformed Church here in Canterbury. I felt prompted to talk about what it means for us to be a church which carries God’s presence in this world, and I found myself taking a closer look at the Ark of the Covenant, the ornate chest which the Israelites carried with them as a sign of God’s presence in their midst

You can find the description of the Ark in Exodus 25:10-22, and here are the thoughts I shared this morning:

The Ark was first and foremost a box made of wood. God didn’t beam down a special box for them to use, he got the Israelites to use what they had … and what they had was very ordinary wood. We do often feel ordinary, but that’s the perfect place to start.

The wood was Acacia, the most common wood in the desert where they wandered, and a hard, dry wood which was very durable. One of the reasons it lasted so long was that insects didn’t like eating it. They didn’t like it because whenever it was “traumatised” in any way, it would excrete substances which they didn’t like the taste of. We may think that our struggles make us less durable, but in fact they build strength in us so that we are less prone to being nibbled away at.

Inside the Ark were three things: the stone tablets with the law on them, Aaron’s rod which had budded and blossomed and a gold pot of manna. Those speak of three different “emphases” which we often have as Christians: the stone tablets as the Word, the budding rod as the worship/prayer life of the church (it budded when God established Aaron’s tribe as the priestly tribe to oversee worship), and the golden pot of manna as the practical work of the kingdom (food and the meeting of everyday need). Though we all believe in all three, our personalities draw us more towards one than the others, and this can create tension in a congregation.

But the whole lot: the ordinary wood, the tablets, the rod and the pot of manna … they were all included in the Ark and they were all covered in gold, and gold symbolises God’s glory. When we stand together as a church, committed to unity despite our diversity, then God covers us with his glory and shines through us by his Spirit. It’s not always easy … church can feel more like wood than gold sometimes, but we need to remember that each of us is covered in gold, and we need to treat one another as valuable and precious, regardless of our differences.

The whole box was covered by the Atonement Cover – a beautiful prefiguring of the sacrifice of jesus which covers our imperfections, our brokenness and our pain, and makes us worthy to carry God’s presence.

The cover was also sometimes known as the Mercy Seat. I have been part of The Salvation Army all my life, and the Mercy Seat has an important place in our history as a physical place in every Salvation Army where people can stop and meet with God. This was particularly relevant in the early days of the movement, when Salvation Army buildings were bustling and busy places, but there was always a space to meet with God.

As church, do we offer a “mercy seat” – space where people can always meet with God? As individuals, do we create “mercy seat” spaces in our lives to help people meet with God?

The cherubim on top of the cover were a sign of this being a place where God would “show up”. As we commit to making mercy seat spaces in our everyday lives, helping people to connect with Jesus in whatever way we can, God promises to show up.

‘Faith in the Making’ Feedback

Among the various online mentions of my first book, ‘Faith in the Making’, I came across these two articles on the Pilgrim Traveller blog. I’m passing them on because I found them a very helpful read.

(Thanks for the kind words, David!)

Simply a walk-on part

Don’t cut out the middle-man/woman