This psalm that ends with a brief reminder of Moses’ mission that brought freedom to Israel begins as a song of praise. It calls the people of God to remember the works of God among their ancestors and offer their own praise as they testify to the greatness of God as a source of their own empowerment. How do we sing the Lord’s song and offer praise and thanks to God in the midst of trouble and oppression?
In African American churches even in the time of slavery and Jim Crow domination and despite the challenges of life African Americans face as persons whose full humanity is often ignored, the people have faithfully sung their praises and offered their thanks for the goodness of God. They worship and give glory to God for life even when that life is toil and trouble. Like the Israelites of old, they speak faithfully of a God who has brought them a mighty long way as they sing heartily: “If it had not been for the Lord on my side, where would I be?”
We continue to see evidence of the victimization of African Americans in substandard education, inadequate housing, a flourishing school-to-prison pipeline, an overwhelmingly Afri- can American prison population, food deserts in their commu- nities, and double-digit unemployment. And yet the worship in African American churches is exuberantly joyful and celebra- tive, praising God's glorious presence that empowers them to answer the call and face the challenge of serving God faithfully, despite the heinous reality of systemic oppression at every level of society and even in the Christian church.
God calls the people of God to experience the glory of God’s presence. We can do so as we remember the promise of God in the best of times and the worst of times, to bring freedom and justice through God’s unfailing presence.
Holy One, give us eyes to see your glory and hearts and voices to praise you always. Amen.
In Exodus 3, Moses is moved to inspect the bush because it is an oddity, and in so doing he encounters the presence of the living God. Not even Moses could be prepared for the challenge that ensues. Psalm 105 recites God’s great acts of mercy in Israel’s life; in this instance, focusing on Moses and Aaron. The key verb here is “sent,” and its subject is God. In Romans 12, Paul takes the notion of covenant demand and expounds on it. Christians are called not simply to keep rules; they are transformed and readied for new life in the world. Paul provides an inventory of new life for those who are changed and renewed by the gospel. The Gospel reading is one of Jesus’ most acute reflections on the obedience expected of the faithful. He announces his own destiny of suffering obedience and invites his disciples to share in that radical destiny. For the faithful, there is no “business as usual”; it’s a divine call that brings challenge.
• Read Exodus 3:1-15. Have you experienced God’s call to something you felt ill-equipped for? What did you say to God? to yourself?
• Read Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c. How difficult is it for you to praise God in the midst of turmoil? Why?
• Read Romans 12:9-21. Where in your life do you have opportunities to bless those who curse you?
• Read Matthew 16:21-28. What does your call to discipleship in Christ cost you?
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