It has been a while since I've posted a blog but figured I would post a sermon from Preaching Camp. This was given on the last day and the three people who followed me were a part of this sermon as well. We all had individual sermons as well as a group sermon all in one. Great times at camp and this was how it ended. Peace,
Moses, Aaron, or an Israelite: The Common Ground of Standing in God’s Presence
Sermon by Krista Phillips
Text: Exodus 19:1-25, Deuteronomy 5:23-32
Friday June 11, 2010
Camp Kavanaugh, Crestwood, KY
Academy of Preachers Preaching Camp
Wednesday night there were a few of us standing around the campfire making s’mores, and talking theology. Christian kept making the comment that the fire represented an eternal flame of preaching. It was interesting to watch the different ways in which people approached the flame to roast their marshmallow, and it reminded me of the text that the four of us are preaching from this morning. You see, some were like Dr. Moody who represents the Israelites; he stood at a distance and never went into the fire. He respected the flame and stood behind the boarder that was set in place. Katie on the other hand, she was like Moses. Katie was in the fire moving the logs around and keeping it warm and at the same time respecting the power that the flame held. And then there were those of us like Darnell, who was like Aaron, he needed a little coaching to get in the fire. At first Darnell was standing around the outside, but not getting in the fire. After Katie coached him in he finally drew near to the fire and was able to roast a tasty looking marshmallow.
This s’more making scenario where we built a fire played a significant role in our weekend here at camp. It bonded us together but it also taught us about limits and boundaries, as well as a healthy respect for others, their opinions, their theology, and how fear cannot get in the way of things that are built on holy ground.
When we see fires, whether they be in a house, in a forest, or some other uncontrolled flame our response tends to be that we either high tail it out of there or we send someone else in to take care of it. For the Israelites this meant sending Moses up the mountain, for God had commanded them to set limits around the mountain and not to cross them, because it was holy. Wednesday night the flame where we gathered for making s’mores was holy. The conversations, the fellowship, and the sermon that the four of us have come to preach here today were all the results of standing together on holy ground.
Moses and the Israelites were on holy ground at the bottom of Mt. Sinai and this was nothing new for Moses. If we think back to the burning bush we remember that Moses was asked to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. Fire throughout scripture has been representative of something holy, powerful, and transformative. Look to the book of Acts, at Pentecost the tongues of fire that rested over the Apostles provided a holy experience. Yet when we see fire in our lives we become afraid, we retreat, and we send someone else in to put it out.
God does not want someone else to go in and put out the fire. God told Moses in our text this morning not to let anyone else break through to go up to the LORD. Some of us are called to be the Israelites standing on the outskirts, behind the boundaries, respecting and fearing the fires of God, being faithful listeners, encouragers, and followers. Others are called to be like Moses, ascending the Mountain and eventually being sent back down to lead the Aaron’s back up the mountain with us.
The transformative, powerful, and holy encounters we have at the feet of the mountains that we face throughout our own lifetimes are scary. They are mountains that we wish we could send others up. The mountains come in many forms as they could be a call to preach the gospel, a call to stand up and fight against injustice, the mountain could be an unsupportive family, a lack of confidence, or a call to live in solidarity with the poor. The good news is, that no matter what mountain we face, God descends on our Mountain, God lights a fire that is more holy, more beautiful, more powerful, and more transformative than any uncontrolled flame of this world.
God’s flame is controlled; it consumes us from the inside out. God’s flame beams a light so bright that we cannot help but draw near to it and follow it, to follow the path it sheds the light on, to refuse to turn to the right or to the left. God’s flame is intimidating to our eyes because it is an unknown flame; it holds more than our life, for God’s flame holds our eternity.
God’s flame burns the aroma of Christ that is in us, to be a fragrance among all people. God’s flame is representative of God’s guidance and God’s presence. God descended upon the mountain and claimed it as holy ground. God descended upon God’s people and God has said “You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD and holy.” God takes that which is broken, that which is challenging, that which is of this world and makes it holy in Christ. In 1 Peter chapter 1 we find a call to holy living where we are reminded that we were ransomed with the precious blood of Christ that was without defect or blemish. Through Christ we are born anew, we are holy and blameless before God.
God descended among God’s people creating an atmosphere for holy living. Our mountains become our own holy encounters with the Creator. We all share this common holy mountain of being young preachers of the gospel. Some of us have gone up the mountain, some of us are going down to bring others up with us, but all of us are standing on holy ground.
What do you see on this holy ground? How do you feel? Will you be an Israelite, standing behind the boundaries, not crossing the limits? Or will you be Moses ascending to God and going down for others?