I was doing the Daily Office this morning, something I admit to not doing daily, and as is often the case, the readings were particularly relevant. (It is amazing what a difference it makes to actually be receptive to what you reading.) The reading from Num. 11:1-23 was interesting in light of current events in our parish.
Our parish is going through a transition, the rector of 14 years has retired and while I am not on any of the transitional committees I am a “resident member of the clergy” so I get to meet with our candidates for interim priest. My wife is on the vestry and so she met with the candidate last night. Last night she and I discussed not so much the candidate but where our church and the ECUSA in general is headed. We have a fairly mixed parish, more on the moderate side than radical activist end of the spectrum (either end of the radicalness, I should add). There are many times when I wonder just why we should stay engaged with the national church.
So, today I read Num. 11. It is the passage where the Israelites in the wilderness are grumbling again, this time because they want meat. Real meat, not this carroway-like wafer stuff. This time not only is God upset, but Moses is pissed and complains to God, saying that it is not like he gave birth to them. Why should he have to deal with them and their whining? Not to put too fine a point on it, Moses asks God
Num. 11:15 “If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once-if I have found favor in your sight-and do not let me see my misery.”
I laughed out loud when I read that. “Kill me now, Lord, kill me now.” Well, I am no Moses, nor is my wife. I won’t pretend to draw any direct line of meaning, but I think a general premise that God will work with and through his people (and its leaders) in spite of their thick heart and headedness is clear.
I certainly believe that one clear lesson from Moses (and Abraham and the psalms and the prophets) is that we are allowed to be honest with God. If you think about it, they all showed incredible chutzpah in talking back to God, challenging why he was asking so much of them or not dealing with an injustice that was so obviously in need of smiting. We should not let our humility before God keep us from being honest with him and therefore ourselves about our frustrations and anger.
So I don’t know what the future holds for our parish or the ECUSA and I don’t even know what is my future in these institutions. For the shortterm much will depend upon who we end up calling. “All politics are local” is a truism in the church as much as in the state. In the meantime, keep us in your prayers.