Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Moses' Prayer

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 -- Week of 4 Easter

Today's Reading for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 961)
Psalms 119:49-72 (morning) 49, [53] (evening)
Exodus 33:1-23
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Matthew 5:17-20

This chapter in Exodus is moving and compelling. After the crisis of the golden calf, God tells Moses that God will withdraw the divine presence from among the people. God will send an angel ahead to support their travel into "a land flowing with milk and honey," but God is withdrawing, lest the divine holiness consume such a stiff-necked people.

The people's response is to strip themselves of their ornaments, presumably the jewelry that they had taken from the Egyptians as they fled. It was with these ornaments that they had created the golden calf. They turned away from the symbols of their temptation, the adornments of wealth and greed and pride and sex. They are willing to travel simply, dependent upon God. It is an important response.

In a poignant scene, Moses begs God not to depart from them. Moses stakes his intimate relationship entirely upon a passionate request: "Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight." Isn't that what we want most deeply in our hearts. We want to know God and to know God's ways. Yet Moses doesn't make his request for himself alone. "Consider too that this nation is your people," he implores God.

In a wonderful moment of divine grace, God relents. "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." What a moving promise! And what a statement of reality. There is a sense of rest whenever we find ourselves grounded in God's presence. Having God, we lack nothing. Awake to God's presence, we have our being and our belonging, we may rest, even as we go about the challenging business of getting through whatever the wilderness presents us. "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Moses knows the significance of that promise.

But having tasted God, Moses wants more. He wants to go deeper. "Show me your glory, I pray." Moses knows such a request is risky. No one can see God and live, he has been taught. God confirms that for Moses to see his face would be to much for him, but God will reveal to Moses a greater portion of the divine reality and glory.

What a dramatic turn from yesterday's crisis and slaughter. Out of the rebellion of the golden calf comes this transcendent moment. Out of death, resurrection.

Moses' prayer is not a bad way to begin today or any day. "Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight." God's answer to that prayer is a good way to proceed throughout the day, whatever the wilderness may hold for us. Let God speak that in our ears today: "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."



Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117

An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location --

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

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Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


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