Formations 02.09.2020: Finding Ways to Serve

Maria Morrison shows off one of the many wallaby bags she’s made so far

Exodus 3:4-8a, 9-10; 4:10-17

As of last month, the Australian bushfires had already burned more than twelve million acres and killed two dozen people and more than a billion animals. The whole world grieves the continuing losses. Appalled by the enormity of the crisis, many countries have sent firefighting units and humanitarian aid.

Maria Morrison of Vincennes, Indiana, has found a creative way to make a difference for Australia’s wildlife. Morrison had previously started a ministry in her church that offers free sewing classes. Now she is organizing a small but growing group of volunteers to sew wallaby bags, lightweight fabric bags rescue workers can use to bring orphaned young wallabies and kangaroo joeys to safety. Infant marsupials are helpless without their mothers and typically find shelter and protection in the mother’s pouch.

Morrison put out a call on Facebook for volunteers to join her efforts. She sought donations of materials from local businesses, and JoAnn Fabrics, the Salvation Army, and many others came through in a big way.

“You sit and watch the news on television, and you feel sort of helpless,” Morrison says. “I think the community really wants a way to help, and this project is an avenue to do that.”

Morrison intends to sew as many bags as possible before shipping them to Australia.

“We are called to serve,” she says. “As Christians, the people of Australia are our brothers and sisters, and this is one way of sending our love over there… Use your hands and gifts to serve.”

One can only imagine how Moses felt when God appeared in a burning bush and commissioned him to return to Egypt to set the Israelites free. In Exodus 3–4, we learn of God’s compassion for Israel and God’s intentions to lead them to the promised land. We also hear Moses’ protest that he isn’t a suitable candidate to be Israel’s liberator. He hadn’t yet learned the lesson Maria Morrison took to heart, that we are all called to serve using the gifts God has given us.

Like Moses, we are often prone to offering excuses not to hear God’s call to ministry. When we say yes, however, we find that God’s grace is more than sufficient for the task ahead.

Jill Erwin, “We Are All Called to Serve,” Messenger-Inquirer, 12 Jan 2020 <https://www.messenger-inquirer.com/news/national/we-are-all-called-to-serve/article_e086fafb-0a69-5f77-8443-9d86ddbff25e.html>.

Discussion

• Have you been following the news about the fires in Australia?
• What are you, your church, or your wider community doing to address this crisis?
• When have you been reluctant to say yes to God’s call?
• How can we become more open to the tasks to which God calls us?
• What assurances can we find that God will be with us when we’re asked to do difficult things?

Reference Shelf

Moses as Deliverer

Though Moses is inextricably linked both to the Exodus from Egypt and the covenant at Sinai, Moses is associated first with the Exodus. He was a party to that oppression and his rescue while a baby from the cruelty of Pharaoh prefigured his role in delivering the Hebrews. Later, as a young man, he would save an Israelite from certain death at the hands of an Egyptian guard and also the daughters of Jethro, the priest of Midian, from the brutality of some shepherds. But the Exodus was the deliverance for which his upbringing in Egypt and his experience in the wilderness had prepared him. His feeling of obligation, his sense of justice, and his relationship with his persuasive and zealous God, Yahweh, spurred him back to the challenges he would find in Egypt. Even though the story of Moses retains his reservations about his qualifications, his story clearly depicts him as a person who as born for such a task, for such a time.

Russel I. Gregory, “Moses,” Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, ed. Watson E. Mills et al. (Macon GA: Mercer University Press, 1990), 585.

Face to Face with God

The LORD’s self-introduction to Moses begins in immediate personal terms: “I am the God of your father,” meaning no doubt in the first instance Moses’ unnamed biological father of 2:1…. But that personal tie is immediately taken up into the shared theological heritage of all the Hebrews (cf. 15:2): the LORD is the God of all their common ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This statement, repeated five times in this section (vv. 6, 13, 15, 16; 4:5), provides a main integrating theme on the identity of the LORD. Much that is new is going to be revealed about the nature of the LORD; but this identification as the God of the ancestors provides the essential continuity with the past. The LORD reaffirms all the promises made to the ancestors, above all of settlement in a land (see 1:6), and brings these promises a decisive stage closer to fulfillment. Yet this “God of the ancestors” is none other than the universal Elohim worshiped at this mountain of God, whose cult in this preexisting sanctuary Jethro may well have served as priest (cf. 18:12).

This experience, the recovery of the fundamental theological tradition of his own people that God now makes personally known to him, overwhelms Moses. He hides his face, too afraid to look at God. The question of the directness and quality of Moses’ sight of God becomes in later chapters a major issue in establishing Moses’ credentials. In a sense, Moses speaks with the LORD face to face, as a man speaks with his friend (33:11); yet the LORD has to hide him in a cleft in the rock to shield him from the immediate glare of the divine glory (33:18-23). Nonetheless, the degree of Moses’ immediacy is unparalleled…and serves to distinguish him from his siblings, Aaron and Miriam (Num 12:8). Here, on untutored first encounter, Moses’ gaze switches from open, frank curiosity (v. 3) to terrified turning away and concealment of his face (v. 6; for the combination of the sense of the holy and the response of fear, see again Jacob at Bethel, Gen 28:17).

William Johnstone, Exodus 1–19, Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary (Macon GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2014).

Darrell Pursiful is the editor of Formations. He is an adjunct professor at Mercer University and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia.

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