In today’s reading, the people of Israel are nearing the end of their wandering in the wilderness. Moses is proclaiming God’s word to the people who have journeyed together from the chains of captivity in Egypt through forty years of wandering. Soon the people will enter the Promised Land, “a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing.”
And yet, the people are reminded, never forget that God is the one who brought you out of slavery. “Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God.” God is the one who fed you as you wandered in the wilderness. God is the one who will bring you into “a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey.” This God is the source of all that is. And you belong to this God.
On this day of Thanksgiving, we recall with gratitude the small and the mighty works of God in our lives and in the world. This God who liberated the people of Israel, who created the stars, the earth, and all that is in it; this same God knelt down on earth, lovingly formed humans from dust, and breathed into them the breath of life.
We belong to this God of all creation, who pushed up the mountains and filled the oceans with life. We belong to this God of all creation who flung the stars to the farthest corners of the night and crafted the most delicate of flowers. We belong to this God who created us and covenanted with us to be partners in creation.
What are the places that you see the small and mighty works of God in your life? In the community around you? In the world? Make a list of the things for which you are grateful today.
Popular images often portray God as a passive grandfather figure. However, this is not the picture scripture provides. God’s presence has a profound impact on the physical world. In Exodus, Moses feels insecure about the calling on his life and asks to see God’s glory. God in part grants this request, but no one can experience the presence of God completely and live. The psalmist describes how God is exalted and how God’s holiness shakes the earth itself. The New Testament readings explore different themes. Paul opens his letter to the Thessalonians by commending them for their faith and partnership in the spreading of the gospel. In Matthew, the Pharisees attempt to trap Jesus in his words, yet he confounds their efforts.
Read Exodus 33:12-23. When have you struggled to believe that God is with you? How did you find a sign of God’s presence?
Read Psalm 99. How has God heard your cry? How can you listen with God for the cries of others?
Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. When does your faith call you to live in a countercultural way? How do you show the world how to live?
Read Matthew 22:15-22. You belong to God. How do you feel God’s call on your life?
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