Questions, Questions, Questions — Is God here?
Exodus 17: 1-7 (NRSV)
1 From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5 The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
The question that the Israelites asked in the middle of the dry dessert, when faced with hardship and difficulty was a simple, but poignant, “Is God here?”
As you and I navigate the challenges and pain of our world, which is infected with COVID-19, we are faced with hardship and difficulty, and it pushes us to ask — “Is God here?”
So that is the question we must wrestle with today: “Is God here?”
If we sit, soaked in self-righteousness, we can believe that this pandemic is a divine punishment on others. And if we think that we would be wrong. We live in a world of free will and natural agency, and illnesses and viruses happen as a result of that free will all of creation has been given.
So if God is not in the punishment, where is God? As we look for God in the hardship and the difficulty we are not looking for the cartoonish picture of flowing robes and a long grey beard. As we look for God in the difficulty and the hardship we are looking for actions of justice, hope and love.
So as you ask the question: “Is God here?” Look for acts of justice, where people are crying out for change that brings about individual and systemic equity.
Look for acts of hope, where people are offering a vision now and in the future of things that are better than now. Look for the food offered to the hungry and the vaccines prepared.
Look for acts of love, where friends and strangers sit by the bedsides of the suffering and people give of their own time and effort to make society a place where people are cared for.
When I ask – “Are you here?”
Show me your presence in acts of
Hope, justice and love.
So that I might know you are here.
And help me respond to that question
With hope justice and love
So your presence is known.