Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.” But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’“ God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:
This is my name forever,
and this my title for all generations.
Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c
1 Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name; *
make known his deeds among the peoples.
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him, *
and speak of all his marvelous works.
3 Glory in his holy Name; *
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
4 Search for the Lord and his strength; *
continually seek his face.
5 Remember the marvels he has done, *
his wonders and the judgments of his mouth,
6 O offspring of Abraham his servant, *
O children of Jacob his chosen.
23 Israel came into Egypt, *
and Jacob became a sojourner in the land of Ham.
24 The Lord made his people exceedingly fruitful; *
he made them stronger than their enemies;
25 Whose heart he turned, so that they hated his people, *
and dealt unjustly with his servants.
26 He sent Moses his servant, *
and Aaron whom he had chosen.
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
21From that time on, [after Peter confessed that Jesus was the Messiah,] Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
24Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
27“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Our readings for this Sunday begin with a lament, in fact more than one lament can be found in the selected passages before us today. Obviously, a lament is a complaint to God for what is perceived to be God’s indifference to the circumstances of the lamenter. Jerimiah is a particularly bitter lament, bordering on rage. It demands at the very least an answer from God as to what God is going to do with the situation at hand.
Jerimiah has experienced great pain, anger and misery. Now he, in the midst of uncontrollable events, he rages at God, claiming that God is of no use to him. God no longer b rings delight and joy to his life. God is useless. In short he simply wants the misery afflicting him to stop. In the midst of this anger and rage God speaks.
Unexpectedly God does not promise freedom from pain and misery and danger. No God assures Jeremiah that God is with him in the midst of all of this trouble, not that the trouble will cease. God promises strength to endure and go forward. Jeremiah ultimately will be saved and redeemed.
The Psalm too is a song of lament. The psalmist has experienced the same sense of misery and fear as the Prophet. He is surrounded by those who seek to do him harm. There are evildoers and deceitful plotters who seek to do him in. The two readings share this in common: they are both permeated with the understanding that the speakers are yet in relationship with the God they are lamenting to. Without this understanding, this foundation of faith, there would be no hope for either party. The assurance of the supporting hand of God is there and will in the end bring the desired salvation to both.
The Gospel reading as well reflects a sense of lamentation. Immediately before this reading is a scene of joyous, almost triumphant, celebration. Peter has clearly seen and confessed the reality of God with us in the flesh of Jesus. The Messiah, the anointed one is present. Now all things will be made right. And how can things go wrong? God is present and now all power will belong to the disciples and Israel will be fully restored to its rightful place in God’s world.
How? Recall the words of Jesus that the Messiah must be crucified and die and rise again. To Peter this was a moment of lament, almost of rage as we see in Jerimiah. Has God once again abandoned his people? Is the word of God impotent and false? No, it is not any of these things. The words of Jesus concerning his rising again are the thing that Peter misses. The suffering and death are unavoidable. The resurrection us unavoidable. It is through these things that trustworthiness of God is revealed. What is also revealed is the depth of the relationship humanity has with God. God truly knows the depth of human pain and suffering for God has experienced it along with us. We see here that God can truly be trusted to be with us in all of our afflictions.
What we also see in these readings is that God not only understands but also takes on all of these things into God’s very being and destroyed them. The promise is that God is with us in all of the trials we may face and will faithfully carry us through them and ultimately we will feast joyfully in the restored Kingdom of God together.