A NOTE FROM PASTOR MARGE
It’s been a while since we’ve been in the Old Testament, so I have selected Exodus 32:1-14 for our Scripture passage this morning. This story is very applicable, especially in the context of Communion Sunday. Moses has been up on Mt. Sinai for forty days and nights, receiving instructions from God about the construction of the tabernacle as well as procedures for the ordination of the priesthood. The Israelites’ anxiety about the absence of their leader, Moses,
drives them to fashion a golden calf out of earrings, which they then worship. God sees their sinful, idolatrous behavior and is filled with wrath and fury. However, after conversing with Moses for awhile, God decides to show the Israelites His mercy rather than His condemnation. Mercy is His final response in this story. So is mercy God’s final response for you and for me. God’s mercy serves as the foundation of our salvation. It’s God’s compassionate lovingkindness towards us that led Him to save all people through Christ’s death and resurrection. Our salvation thus rests on God’s mercy for us, sinners who in no way deserve to be in a relationship with God, but who are gifted in return with God’s mercy. Let us remember God’s amazing mercy as we partake in the bread and the juice this morning, and so be empowered to offer those people in our own lives who hurt and wrong us mercy as our final response.
Exodus 32:1-14 (NIV)
1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” 6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
7 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
9 “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”
11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ ” 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.