As we live from one Eucharist to the next, we are ordained to live the name God has given us in Christ - “Beloved” - from which word we have the word, “blest.” We prepare to celebrate the next Eucharist by the way we have lived the last. We pray to experience all the chances to be a blessing.
Moses is called up the mountain and told to tell the people of Israel to first remember. They have been on their journey of freedom and now they are encamped to rest. Moses recounts that God reminds them of just how God had dealt with the Egyptians and how God has cared so personally for them. Their response to such a history will be their faithful living. They will be a holy people, special and prized. Their rituals will continue to remind them of God’s special relationship with them. How they live from their rituals will be a blessing to them and reveal the faithfulness of God to all.
This contract is known as a covenant. God made one with Abraham with great promises to him personally and to his posterity forever. This covenant God is making with the whole nation of Israel, but if they are going to enter into it with God, they have to be reminded of just what God has done for them lately.
Jesus has been making a number of sick-calls in the area and He sees the large crowd who needs His touch. This is the opening scene of today’s Gospel. He laments that the Pharisees have not tended well to God’s people and have abandoned them so that they are like lost sheep. He is preparing new shepherds for the tasks of healing and guiding anew God’s expanding family.
Jesus gives them strict orders not to go beyond the borders of Israel, that will come later. First they are to reclaim God’s people and announce to them that He, Jesus, is the new Covenant and kingdom. He gives them the tasks of healing and recovering the spiritual health of God’s people. Cure, cleanse and inspire and do not perform for payment, but reform the nation Israel and do it all with out exacting payment as did the former shepherds, the Pharisees.
It is a great thing to be included, chosen, wanted. I remember being the first one chosen to be on our neighborhood football team. It didn’t make any difference to me that there were only eight candidates to make up both teams; I was first! In Christ we are chosen for what we are in Him and what we are going to do. In this world it is what you have done in the past which brings about your being included. We believe that what God has done in Christ in our pasts makes us wanted and called by name to do something with our futures.
Did you ever have the thrill of hearing your name called out at a prize-drawing? It is exciting; I won a set of bath towels once, but I heard my very own name and everybody clapped and hooted. So a prize is a prize is a prize. I did not do much to win the prize, the important thing is what I did with the towels.
Each of us is called by name, given gifts and sent and meant to make God and God’s ways attractive. We are to extend the inclusive embrace of Jesus to the lost, injured, self-important, self-diminished, gangs and families, the powerful and the powerless. We gather at the new Mount Sinai to celebrate the Covenant made in Christ’s suffering. We approach that altar-mountain and in receiving the Eucharist we are receiving our new name again and again, “The Body of Christ.” Each is embraced as he or she embraces that identity and then out they go. They are sent as were the first twelve, chosen for the neighborhood team to play each their part in bringing about and around the kingdom. “What have You done for us lately?” You have reminded us and re-membered us to Your body!
“One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” Ps. 27
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