Tonight was our annual congregational commitment service, held over Zoom. This time, we had no formal reflection; but if you’re wondering who is needed in a church, here’s a little something from the archives.
There’s a story often called “The Birth and Childhood of Moses”, or similar. We care about Moses, because he grew up to be the person who led God’s people out of slavery in Egypt. But in this story, Moses is just a baby, with no special qualities. Instead, it’s the women who are active and interesting – they do stuff!
The midwives disobey and mock Pharaoh. Moses’ mother marries, conceives, labours, hides the baby, builds the ark, places him in it, and finally nurses him again. His sister stands, watches, suggests, runs and arranges; Pharaoh’s daughter walks, sees, opens, pities and names. Moses is passive: things happen to him. But these women are active. They all embrace God’s passion for life so wholeheartedly that they are willing to defy Pharaoh and the powers of empire: and they act.
So it’s not really a story about Moses. Instead, it’s a story about how many people are needed to carry out God’s will. There’s no one big hero: Moses would not have survived without all these women who defied Pharaoh; all these women who chose life.
In the same way, there is no one big hero here in this church. It takes all of us, and it will take a whole lot of others, to help bring about God’s vision for the southwest region of Victoria. And while we may not see this vision clearly yet, we do know that it will always mean love and life, healing and wholeness, liberation and acceptance, for everyone who has been pushed to the margins of society, and for us. And if we want to explore and participate in this vision, we will need all sorts of people.
We need babies: People who remind us to choose life and to risk everything for God.
We need kids: People who keep watch over younger ones, make smart suggestions to adults, and help preserve life.
We need parents: People who love children, and take risks and make sacrifices to help them thrive.
We need midwives: People who help others bring new life, new ideas, new possibilities, to birth.
We need rebels: People who question the dominant powers in government, culture, and the marketplace, and choose a different way.
We need carers: People whose love for the vulnerable extends beyond their own households and touches and draws in others.
We need people outside the church: People, who, like Pharaoh’s daughter, might not even follow our God, but who still work on God’s behalf.
As the story of the exodus unfolds over the next few months, we will meet even more people: prophets and leaders and singers and dancers and a whole lot of ordinary and sinful and backsliding grumblers! – and we need all of them.
Looking around this congregation, I see God’s people: babies, and children, and teenagers, and adults; midwives and carers; teachers and evangelists; healers, hosts, and prophets; people who work for justice; people who serve the vulnerable; and a few grumblers, too. Here we are: the people of God, with diverse gifts and callings, united by a passion for life: a life in Jesus Christ.
In a moment, we will stand and sing. After the song, if what is unfolding here feels like life to you, I will invite you to remain standing. Those standing will then commit to one another, as together we will re-form the body of Christ, called to embody love and life in all its fullness in this region for another year. Ω
Our congregation commitment, made after this reflection, is here.
Four years later, we are in a different season, yet these observations still hold. A reflection bouncing off Exodus 1:8-2:10 by Alison Sampson, Sanctuary, 27 August 2017 (AP16).
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