The lectionary presents us with a fascinating triplet of readings this week, all of which demand that we focus just on them. And in other weeks we might have been able to do just that. But not this week. This week we need to pay attention to all three.
The first reading is the call of Moses in Exodus. Last week if we had had the lectionary readings we would have heard the story of Moses the baby being saved from Pharaoh, and ironically growing up with Pharaoh. This week we have skipped over the account of his stepping in on behalf of a slave and killing an Egyptian, and we find him way up north at Mount Horeb, looking after his father in law’s sheep. On Mount Horeb, the sacred mountain, he encounters the burning bush which is not consumed. He stands on holy ground and he is given his vocation for the rest of his life. He is invited, well, more dragged kicking and screaming, to reimagine himself not as shepherd, but of leader of God’s people, and spokesperson for the God of those people to pharaoh, as the one who will bring them to a land of milk and honey. And he is invited to reimagine God as the one who saves. Strangely he is not so keen. But it is hard to say no when you are on holy ground hearing the voice of God.
Paul in his letter to the Romans also invites his readers to imagine themselves in a new way. Rather than being defenders of what is theirs, they are to be the conveyers of God’s deep compassion and infinite love to all, even those who hated them and who strove to persecute them. They are to treat them well, feeding and offering them drink. Today’s piece from this letter is our reading. It is what motivated the selfless and courageous acts of kindness on this battlefield 150 years ago. It continues to speak to us today. We are the ones who are to carry on that legacy.
Finally we have our gospel reading. A reading in which Peter has gone from hero to zero. Last week, Peter proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, and in return was told that he is now Peter, the rock on which the church is to be built. And now he is getting it all wrong, and being told to “get behind me Satan.” Peter, and the disciples thought following this Messiah would lead to the end of Rome, maybe the end to Herod and the High Priests, with a new order being established, with them at the top enjoying all the fruits of that position. Power, wealth, honour. That is the road they are looking for. It is not the road Jesus is on. His way is the way of the cross. It leads to humiliation and death. He invites his disciples, including you and me, to follow him on that road. Sadly too often we as Christians have thought that Christ did the all suffering for us, and we simply enjoy the fruits of that suffering in honour, wealth, power today. We can see this all around us if we look. It is not what Jesus is saying. That way is not the way of life. We are to reimagine what the way is, and follow Christ on his way.
Today we are invited to reimagine. What is it you are being invited to reimagine this day? Your vocation? What you look for from your life of faith? How you live that faith out day to day? May we know God’s peace and goodness as we pray this week.