Monday, July 05, 2010

The Sign is a Promise

“And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain” (3:12).
We noted earlier that the striking thing about this statement is that the sign is a promise. And this almost seems like cheating. Of course later, God will give Moses signs for Pharaoh and Israel, but this sign is for Moses so that he knows that God has sent him. This requires Moses to simply believe the word of God and obey. When Moses has any doubt in Egypt, he must simply remember and believe the promise of God. It is common to refer to the sacraments as signs, and sometimes this is explained poorly, but it can be helpful in this respect. Sometimes signs are extraordinary and miraculous: rainbows, healing, etc. But fundamentally signs are promises of what God is doing and what God promises He will do. This meal in one sense is very ordinary. We have bread and wine, some of the most basic sorts of food in the world made from grain and grapes. But the sign is in the promises of God. God promises that our sins are forgiven, that the death of Jesus reconciled us to Himself and one another, that He is feeding us with His life through this meal, that this forgiveness and life are for the world, and that Jesus will reign until His Kingdom fills the earth. And we have been called to believe all of this and to live in a way that is consistent with that belief. And this is the point: Moses saw a burning bush at the foot of a mountain, and the sign that Moses had been commissioned to go to Egypt was a promise that he would return and worship there. But we have something even better than this. Every week we gather here at this table and then God sends us out into the world. And this shall be the sign that you have been sent by the Lord into the world: you will return and serve God here on this mountain. And we do. Week after week, we return and we worship the Lord here at this mountain and then He sends us out again. He sends us to our jobs, our families, our neighborhoods, our enemies to live and proclaim the freedom and forgiveness found in Christ. And if we should have any doubt during the week, we are called to remember and believe the promise of God. We will return and serve God on this mountain. So come and worship.

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