Friday, August 19, 2011

Coming to a Church Near You

Tenth Sunday of Pentecost
Exodus 1:8-2:10
Romans 12:1-8
August 21, 2011

The two Bible passages that I am commenting on this week (I will also be preaching this Sunday) has me thinking about movies. It always seems that there are folks who only like the big summer blockbuster movie with mega budgets. On the other side, there are those who only seem to like small, independent movies. I tend to like both kinds of movies. I love the big films with awesome sound and special effects and I love the small films that tell a story and leave the moviegoer thinking about life.

The passage in Exodus is definitely that start of a big budget film. There's a larger than life villian in the Pharoah, the plucky young women who defy the Pharoah's order and a baby is saved from destructions. You can even here the anthemic music score.

(Of course, a big-budget film was made on Moses, the Pharoah and the Israelities.)

On the other hand, the Romans text feels like an independent film. The story is less grandiose and more personal and intimate. If music is a part of the film, it happens to be one piano playing a sparse tune.

The beginning of Exodus feels big, because that's the point. The whole point of the book of Exodus is about God working to free God's people. The crafty midwives were they people whom God worked through to thwart Pharoah's plans. Exodus makes the point that God will work to say "No" to the devil's themes.

As David Lose remarks, there is a lot that can be used by faith communities in this text. But in someways, it still feels so out of touch from the common church person. After all, we aren't dealing with a genocidal leader.

That's where Romans come in. Paul's letter to the Christians in Rome is far more personal and far more practical. In this letter we find Paul telling his fellow followers to constantly offer their whole lives as a sacrifice to God. He urges the Romans and by extension, us to live lives that are not conformed to the ways of the world, but to be shaped by God, to be transformed following God's ways.

Shiprah and Puah model this kind of transformation. They are not conformed to the ways of Pharoah, and instead choose to follow God's way- saving the Hebrew boys from destruction.

In our daily lives, we probably won't face a homocidal king. But, we are called to live and work in a different way as follower of Jesus. How do we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God?

There is a woman at my church who recently celebrated her 90th birthday. She was the woman who was instrumental in starting a prayer shawl ministry at our church and has even given the shawls at times, even though she has trouble getting to church these days.

This woman, and all the members of the prayer shawl ministry are being transformed by God, using yarn and knitting needles to bring comfort to people.

The challenge this week is how we can live as God would want us to live. How are we being transformed by God? How are we offering worship to God?

Go and be church.
Dennis Sanders is the Associate Pastor at First Christian Church in Minneapolis.

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