Who is this God to whom we belong? God, the sovereign of the universe, enthroned in heaven upon the cherubim, is not a distant God. This God listens to us and hears our cries.
This sovereign God is present to the people of Israel, calling Moses and Aaron to free the people from captivity in Egypt, leading them into the wilderness, and guiding them in the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. Even though they grumble and complain and doubt, the Holy One remains faithful to them, leading them to the Promised Land.
In these days of turmoil in our world, it often seems that no one is listening. Who will comfort us when all around us seems to be turned upside down? Who will guide us when we do not know the way to go? Who will listen to our cries of sadness, grief, and despair?
The God to whom we belong hears our cries. God hears the moans of a wounded world in the turmoil of a warming planet. God hears the keening of those who have lost loved ones in disasters, in war, in acts of terrorism, in instances of gun violence. God hears the anger and pain of the victims of sexual assault and discrimination. God hears the prayers of those who suffer because of the color of their skin, the country in which they were born, or their immigration status. God hears the despair of LGBTQ youth who struggle, wondering if it is worth continuing in this world.
God hears the cries of our hearts. Some of these desires we can name. And some of these yearnings are hidden even from ourselves. God hears our cries, spoken and unspoken, known and unknown.
Take time to list the cries of the universe, the world, the nation, your community, your family, your heart. Offer these cries, those known and unknown to you, to the God to whom you belong.
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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