For Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011: Year A, Proper 17

The Reading            Exodus 3:1-15

We continue to follow the career of Moses, whom we last saw as a young child adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. This week’s reading skips over the grown Moses coming to the defense of a Hebrew kinsman who was being beaten by an Egyptian overseer: he killed the overseer and hid the body, but he was promptly found out and fled for his life. In Midian, far from both his Hebrew heritage and his prior life of privilege in Pharaoh’s court, Moses made a new life among the shepherds. Today’s reading takes up the tale.


The Epistle            Romans 12:9-21

Today’s first reading shows God Almighty heeding the cry of Israel and sending Moses with a sign by which Israel will recognize that Moses comes as God’s agent of liberation. In the Epistle, Paul sends us all to act as God’s agents of love in all that we do. Will we obey?


Further notes:

Moses undoubtedly seemed destined for great things growing up in the court of Pharaoh; he could have aspired to a position high in the Egyptian government from which, perhaps, he could have persuaded his adoptive grandfather to take a less punitive approach to the Hebrew people. It is interesting to consider what he might have been able to accomplish, along the lines of Joseph, from inside Pharaoh’s household. Impulse control was not his strong suit as a young man, however, and neither was facing up to the consequences of his actions—so, when his well-meaning intervention went awry, he ran away.

Years later, all a casual observer would be likely to see in Moses is a middle-aged immigrant working in one of Midian’s less high-status jobs. One hopes that he engaged in some self-reflection while fleeing to Midian and that the abrupt demotion in status to herding sheep taught him responsibility, humility, and gratitude. In any case, we see in God an eagerness to partner with Moses exactly where Moses is.

Part of Paul’s message may be similar. We are, in our various ways, no less unlikely than Moses as possible partners of God. Ultimately, it may matter less whether we are ready for God to part the Red Sea through us than whether we are willing to do, and do well, the small daily tasks that come to hand that both bring about and are evidence of the kingdom of God on earth.


1 Response to “For Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011: Year A, Proper 17”

  1. 1 Joy Knight August 28, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Like your thoughtful commentary every week, Linnea! Now, even if I’m teaching S.S. or away, I still can interact more fully with the texts.

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