Church of the Advent
51 South First Street
Jeannette, PA 15644
724-523-9390

 

The Second Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday, June 18, 2017
The Reverend Vicente Santiago

Listen and Obey

After having been living in Egypt for over 400 years, the whole family grew from 70 to an estimated number of 2.5 million people.  This family, led by Moses and under the direction and protection of Jehovah God, escapes and are on their way to the Promise Land.  They have been traveling for about three months and arrived at the plains in front of Mount Sinai. Mt Sinai is a rocky promontory with an elevation of about 7,500 feet above sea level surrounded by a desert landscape consisting of more rocks and sand.  Not a hospitable place.  Mt Sinai today is located within the confines of Saint Katherine National Park in Egyptian territory. 

Imagine yourself arriving at night at the place of rest after a day of travel still having things to do before going to sleep because you have to finish all that have to be done, there is no one else to do it.  You have no time to look around and admire the…desert; the sand, the rocks, the insects, the sky.  I would have said; “Well, tomorrow is another day and I hope will have time to appreciate the area.”

The next morning arrives, and looking around, you discover that there, very close to the camp, is a mass of stones and rocks that appears to go up to heaven.  It is so tall that the peak is lost above the clouds; it is the largest, tallest, meanest looking mountain you have ever seen.  Mount Sinai!  It is there, by Mt Sinai, that the whole family is going to camp and rest for a while.

Moses is called by God and told to give the people the following message; “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.  Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples, you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.”  So being told the relationship that God wanted to have with them, the people responded to God’s message and said: “Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.”

In Genesis 12, we can read the record of the time when God talked to Abram and made a similar proposal: ‘[if you obey the instructions I give you,] leave your home, go where I will tell you and I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing to all.’  Throughout the Old Testament, we read statements where God reminds Abraham’s descendants of the promise given.  In this instance, God talks to Moses making a promise to all the members of the family, to each and every one of them.  It is no longer God making a promise privately to one person.  In this case, it is a public statement; if you obey my voice and keep my covenant you will be especial among the people, and even more as a nation you will be especial among all the nations.  You will become a nation of priests, a nation different and separated from the world dedicated to me.  “If you obey my voice and keep my covenant.”  God selected the descendants of Abram for no particular reason presented in the Bible, I will risk to say that the nation of Israel is special to God because God loved Abraham and that overflows to his descendants.

Paul in his letter to the Romans remind them that ‘God proved His love for us in that while we were sinners Christ died for us.”  We all have sin and fall short of the expectations of God.  If salvation depends on our ability to earn it, we are doomed.  But God loves each and every one of us regardless of who we are and what we do.  God loves us so much that He sent His only son to die for us so that when we believe in the work that Jesus did we have eternal life.  This is not a private matter but a public matter.  God wants everyone to receive eternal life and today’s Gospel reading describes one instance when He expresses His concern with the sick, the needy and the lost.

Jesus is doing His ministry throughout cities and villages; teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, and curing every disease and every sickness.  Notice that the first thing Jesus does is teach and proclaim the good news of the kingdom. After proclamation and the teaching is done, then is when Jesus started His ministry to the physical needs of the people.  That day Jesus cured every disease and every sickness.  The mount of need was so much that Jesus told the disciples; “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” 

Does anything catch your attention with that statement?  “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  Jesus could have said; ‘Please join me in healing the people’, or He could have said, ‘Wow there are so many, this is going to take a long time’ or even ‘this is overwhelming’.  No, Jesus did not look at the situation as something He can do on His own.  Help is needed.  Where can we get help every time if not from God?  So Jesus said, the need is great and there are not enough people available and willing to serve so, lets pray and ask God to recruit more workers and send them to help for the need is great.  It is no different today.  The need is great and we need help.  Let’s bow our heads and ask God the Father for people with the heart and the desire to teach and to proclaim the Gospel to those in need and the willingness to help cure and heal the sick and the needy.

"Almighty God we acknowledge you are the source of all good things, we see the need and confusion that surrounds us, we see the sick and the needy wherever we look, Lord the need is great and we need help to minister to this need.  Father God we, united in mind and soul, humbly ask you to illumine our hearts and minds as to how to approach this need and also ask that you send people with the desire to serve and help.  Lord I pray you help us prepare them for the work you are calling us to do.  Amen."