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Moses and the mountains

At church, they are teaching a series on mountaintop moments and last Sunday, discussed Moses and his encounter at the burning bush, along with his receiving of the covenant with the people of Israel. Those were big, defining moments of Moses’ life to be sure. 

However, one of the things I’m struck by when I read Scripture is how utterly ordinary most of the people’s lives were. There may be big moments- appearances by angels, a flaming bush in the wilderness, the high priest and other emissaries of the king showing up at your front door- but most of life was daily work and faithfulness and questions and obscurity. 

The church calendar now has God’s people square in “ordinary time.” There are no big established occasions to celebrate or lament the life of Christ. There is neither fasting or feasting. It is regular life and it consumes most of the church calendar. The Episcopal Church writes that it is a time when the church lives out “the meaning of Christ’s resurrection in ordinary life.”

We cannot live for big moments. They are not ours to produce. Sometimes they come because God interjects into our lives with a burning bush. We must turn aside to see; that is God’s call to us. Other times, God orders us up onto the mountain to speak and hear on behalf of other people. But that was not most of Moses’ life nor was it the extent of Moses’ life with God. 

Moses spent time with God. So much that it says that God knew him face to face as a friend. His face shone from being in God’s presence and he had to wear a veil around other people. But this is later in the story. In the beginning, he was sent to do a task where the situation grew worse after his intervention. His life was threatened. After the deliverance of God, he was in charge of this group of people who constantly complained about him and never seemed to quite align with the vision that God had given Moses. For that matter, neither did Moses. But Moses learned to walk with God and obey God right there in those less-than-desirable circumstances. 

He lived ordinary life. Not from the perspective of Jesus’ resurrection as we do, but as a reflection of the promises that God had made and kept in bringing the people out of slavery. We also live ordinary life. We believe that Jesus rose from the dead and in doing so reigns over the earth as King. We believe that was the defeat of sin and evil and death, though we do not see it in finality yet. And in this space of regular life, we learn to walk with God. We learn to be God’s friend. 

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