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                     of Almelund, Minnesota

         

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God Calls Flawed Humans – Like Moses and Us

Pastor Marla Amborn

Immanuel Lutheran Church

October 1, 2017

Exodus 2:23-25; 3:1-15; 4:10-17

 

Moses was a flawed human being. To say he had an “anger management problem” was an understatement. His temper flared up when he got enraged about the harsh treatment of an Israelite by the Egyptian slave masters. His efforts to come to the aid of one of his people got so out of control that he killed a man.

 

And years later there was another example of his hot temper. He had spent 40 days on the mountain in the presence of God, receiving the 10 commandments. It was a real “mountain-top experience!” As he comes down the mountain carrying the tablets, he is enraged to find the people worshipping the golden calf. So what does he do? In a fit of temper, he throws down the tablets smashing them to pieces – like a two-year-old throwing a temper tantrum. For that, God barred him from entering the Promised Land.

 

Yes, Moses was a flawed human being. Moses had a speech impediment. It is believed that he stuttered. The thing about stuttering is the more anxious a person becomes                                             the worse the stuttering gets. So, in important, high-stakes situations, like negotiating with Pharaoh, it can be hard to get your message out. If you need someone who can talk clearly and convincingly under pressure, you wouldn’t want to choose someone who stutters.

 

Yes, Moses was a flawed human being, and Moses had leadership challenges. Early on in their wilderness journey, just 3 days after Moses parted the Red Sea and led the daring escape from Egypt, the people were unhappy with Moses’ leadership. They complained because there wasn’t adequate food and water. They accused him of “leading them into the wilderness to die.”

 

And later, an insurrection arose, led by a man named Korah. He didn’t like Moses’ leadership style. He felt that Moses acted too high and mighty. So, he stirred up the people against Moses and challenged Moses’ leadership. This came to an end when the ground opened up swallowing Korah and his family and his followers. Many lives were lost because some of the people didn’t like Moses’ leadership style.

 

Yes, Moses was a flawed human being. Yet God worked through Moses. God had chosen him for the task of leading the people out of Egypt. God called him to do this, despite Moses’ many objections, and God was with Moses, giving him what he needed to do the work God was calling him to do.

 

Yes, Moses was a flawed human being. Yet God worked through Moses, despite his many flaws. That is a repeated pattern for God. As you look at the people he chooses, all of them are flawed.

 

Abraham, the father of the Israelite nation, failed to trust God. On one occasion he passed off his wife Sarah as his sister, allowing her to become part of a haram, because he was afraid God wouldn’t protect him. On another occasion he and had a child with another woman because he didn’t trust God to fulfill his promise with his wife, Sarah, to be the mother of their many descendants. Yet God worked through a flawed human being like Abraham to bring blessings to the whole world.

 

Last week we heard about Jacob, the trickster. Jacob tricked his brother, deceived his father, and split his family apart. Jacob’s selfish actions created such strife that he had to run away, leave home and family, fearful for his life. Yet God worked through a flawed human being like Jacob to bring his blessings to the whole world.

 

There is a pattern here. It seems like God repeatedly chooses flawed human beings to do his work. Why would he do that? Can’t God make better choices than to work through such flawed human beings? 

 

There are no perfect people. Every one of us has flaws. If God waited for perfect people to do his work, he’d have to do it himself. There are no perfect people, only flawed human beings – like Moses, and Abraham, and Jacob, like you and me.

 

God’s central characteristic is love. God IS love. To love you must be in relationship. You can’t love unless there is someone to love. Out of love God created this whole world, and everyone in it. God created people so he’d have someone to love. God wanted to be in relationship with people like you and me – despite our flaws.

 

Sure, God has the power to do whatever needs to be done on his own, but he chooses to work through people. From the very beginning he gave people important work to do. He gave Adam and Eve the task of naming all the animals, and of plowing and tilling the earth. He put Adam and Eve in charge of caring for his creation. And we know what flawed human beings Adam and Eve were. Yet God chooses to make flawed human beings like Adam and Eve, his hands and feet. He chooses to work through flawed human beings like you and me to do his work in the world.

 

When God called to Moses from the burning bush, and asked him to lead his people out of Egypt, Moses raised a whole series of objections. Moses didn’t feel he was up to the task God called him to do. He knew his limitations, and God did too. Yet God chose to work through Moses anyway. God knew that Moses wouldn’t be on his own. He wouldn’t be reliant only on his own skill and strength. God would work through him.

 

God works through each person that he calls, giving them what they need to do the work God is calling them to do. There is a saying “God doesn’t call the equipped; God equips the called.” When God calls you to do his work, he equips you with what you need to do it.

 

 

 

God calls you and me to be his people here in Almelund. He calls us to be a “Welcoming community rooted in Christ, growing in faith and serving with joy!” He calls us to live out his mission for this ministry. He calls us to be his hands and feet and voice here in Almelund, spreading the good news of his love and salvation. He calls us to care for the sick and comfort those who mourn. He calls us to baptize and teach our children about his love and to help them grow in faith and love for him. He calls us to worship him and live together as a community of faith here in this place.

 

He calls us to reach beyond our walls to the greater community, as we did yesterday at the Relay for Life. Many of us gathered to in support of people facing cancer, helping them find hope, the ability to cope, and ultimately a cure for this deadly disease.

 

He calls us to reach out to the people in Puerto Rico, and Florida, and Texas as they are dealing with the aftermath of recent hurricanes. We do this as we pray for them and contribute to helping them through organizations such as Lutheran Disaster Relief.

 

He calls us to bring his message of love and salvation to the whole world. We do this as we support the project to bring clean water to our companion congregation in Itonya, Tanzania. We do this as we send quilts and prayer shawls to people near and far, wrapping them in God’s love.

 

God has a mission for us. God works through flawed people like us to live out that mission here, and around the world.

 

None of us is perfect. Like Moses, all of us could come up with a long list of reasons why God should choose someone else to do his work. We know our own flaws. We know our limitations. We know that we are not fully up to the task. Surely there must be someone else God could use to do his work, someone other than us. But God chooses us to do his work. God chooses flawed human beings like you and me.

 

As I look out in this sanctuary, I wish more people were here filling up the pews. As I look at our Sunday School program, I wish more children were here filling up our classrooms. I know many of you share these wishes.

 

Wishing more people would show up isn’t going to get people to come. We need to invite them. We need to reach out to invite people and welcome them to be part of our congregation. We need to reach out to those who have been active in the past and invite them to come back. And we need to reach out to new folks as well.

 

Most of us are not comfortable with the notion of evangelism. Most of us don’t feel up to the task of inviting people to come to church or talking about our faith. We could come up with a long list of reasons – at least as long as Moses’ – why we’re just not the right ones for the task. We may even say “Please God, send someone else.”

 

 

But we are the ones who are here. We are the people God has to work with. Flawed human beings, for sure, but we’re God’s people in this place.

 

We’re the ones who care about this congregation. We’re the ones who follow in the footsteps of those faithful people who have been here for 130 years.  We’re the ones who hope to have a vibrant ministry at Immanuel long in to the future.

 

We’re the ones who can make a difference. We can invite friends and family members. If we see new folks moving in, we can welcome them to the neighborhood and invite them to come to church.

 

If more people are to come in our doors, we need to be the ones to invite them and we need to be prepared to tell them why it is worth it for them to come to this church, what we are enthusiastic about in this ministry.  And when new people come, we’re the ones who can greet them with a smile, and invite them to come to coffee, make them feel welcome and encourage them to come back.

 

I’m reminded of the most powerful reason to invite people each time we host a funeral. That banner says “(Name) I have called you by name and you are mine.” It is a reminder of what is at stake. It is a reminder of what a difference faith makes. Knowing that a person believes and is baptized gives a great sense of comfort at those times of life and death. We have a responsibility to invite people in, not for our benefit but for theirs. We have a responsibility to invite people in and share the faith because that is what Jesus commanded us to do. Go, make disciples, baptize, teach – and I am with you!

 

The amazing thing with Moses is that despite his many flaws, God was able to work through him to accomplish his purposes. God successfully worked through Moses to free God’s people from slavery in Egypt, and lead them to the Promised Land. God was with Moses every step of the way.

 

The amazing thing we can count on, is that God is able to work through flawed human beings like us. God equips us to be his people here in this place, to do his work now and steward this ministry into a vibrant future.

 

As you hear God calling to you, working in your heart and soul, encouraging you to invite people to come to church, giving you ideas of things that will serve God’s purposes, don’t give God a bunch of excuses. He knows your flaws even better than you do. He knows your limitations and he’s calling you anyway. Answer his call. Let yourself be open to serving as the hands and feet and voice that God uses to accomplish his mission here in Almelund.

 

Amen!