May 30, 2021
from Numbers 1-2
Sr. Pastor Rev. Josh Kuipers
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© 2022 CUCC Sermons For Everyone
May 30, 2021 In The Wilderness: They Were Counted
May 30, 2021
CUCC Sermons For Everyone
Welcome to see you CC sermons for everyone, no matter who you are or where you find yourself on life's journey. We're glad you're tuned in and we hope you find meaning in this week's sermon.
All the men, 20 years, older more who are able to serve in the Army were listed by name, one by one, according to the records of their clients and family. The number from the tribe of Reuben, was the number from the tribe of Simeon, was a number from the tribe of GAD was, and the number and the number. And the number
And then now you get where the book gets its name from numbers because at a couple points throughout this book, there is a census taken the Israelite Community. All stands to be counted to be numbered.
And you might be interested to know that the book's original name is the mid bar. It's a Hebrew word, which means in the wilderness.
Which to me is a way more attractive title, right? I would buy that book.
So this week we begin a new series on the book of numbers but if you've been with us for a couple years you know that we aren't necessarily starting something new this week but we're continuing a grand narrative two years ago. We went back to the beginning of the beginning and we read through all of Genesis last year. We went through the book of Exodus and now
Radio quicker. Right Genesis. We didn't like 32 weeks reduce 7 weeks on the Book of Numbers, you guys can do it. So let me tell you a little bit about this / book first, as you might already. Yes.
Numbers is a little more complex just a little bit more complex literature than some of the stories we've been reading, which means we may have to work just a little bit harder to find the layers of meaning within its pages. But I promise you, they're in there and there are pieces of ancient time-tested wisdom and these pages that can and will speak to our life and world. If we tune into the spirit, and if we, we allow our minds to be present to these words. So, helicopter view of this book, it is a book about God taking Israel on a journey. Through the Wilderness to the promised land, we're picking up right? Where we left off an exit US. The people are at the foot of Mount Sinai, the book is organized around three locations. It starts at the foot of Mount Sinai, they move to Perrin and then finally Moab which is just outside the
Thomas land rights of these three locations for much of the book takes place. And then there are stories of to Great Road Trips as we move between them.
Now, here's the real kicker, their Journey only needed to take 2 weeks to anyone know how long it actually took them to get to the promised land.
Lori got it. Yeah, I heard a couple 40 years, 40 years or grass. Can you imagine the kids in the back of the car asking if we're there yet for 40 years straight?
40 Years of wandering 40 years of waiting. If today might be the day that hardships finally over 40 years tits. It take a sigh of relief.
I without trying too hard, we may have already found ourselves in the story. A little bit. Have you ever lived through something? Something that totally disrupted your life. And the worst part was, he didn't know when it would be over, how it would be resolved. You just had to keep swimming recently. I don't know. Maybe a global Health pandemic that initially you thought would only take a couple weeks to resolve only to find out that it was in fact, going to take months and months and a couple more months to get a handle on anyone else been on a Wilderness Journey before anyone else feel like they wandered and waited for something better to turn the corner.
Yeah. It's it's all in here. What do you do when things take way too long, it's in here and we're going to get to that stuff.
Today we have just a couple of lessons to glean from and write two less than exciting opening chapters, but there still some stuff in there and the Israelites are about to embark on this. Dramatic Voyage. They have one big question, ask themselves.
And that's what kind of people are. We going to be right from? What will we draw our identity and to what are we going to give ourselves up until the point in and numbers? There's simply a disorganized group of ex-slaves coming to grips with their new freedom, and their new connection to God. But if they're going to settle in the promised land, if they're going to make it through the Wilderness, they're going to start organising themselves, bringing some method to the madness and so is Todd read for us. So impressed, you went through it all.
They began with a census.
Now, on the one hand participating in a census, right? Standing up to be counted. It it earns you something, right? It's official, you're on the book, you're in the club, you now have a people, you have a place, your name is on the list, a willingness to stand up and be counted. It offers the privilege of belonging friends. As many of, you know, All Too Well, when you're stuck in the wilderness, when you're going through something,
You're going to want to have a people and a place to belong to try just for a visual. Raise your hand. If you've ever had a community help, carry you through something, you didn't know you could do on your own.
F l, a lot of you.
So with standing up and being counted, you receive the privilege of belonging a people and a place, but don't sign on the bottom line yet because well standing up to be counted. Earns you all of that good stuff. It also places on you the responsibility of commitment. Once you've been counted, once you start cashing in on all of that belong and you're responsible for contributing, you're responsible for showing up for being there, for being a part of what's going on. And and the truth is, as many of you have learned, the more you commit, the more that you put back into and in contribute
The more it becomes your place, your people right that the deeper the sense of belonging comes. And so we're eating the first chapters of number that every last one of them stood up to be counted just as God asked them to everybody to go on a journey one with with no apparent timeline and no reasonable route. And the first thing that they decided was we're in this together, right? Let's get organized. Let's get numbered. Each of us will take on a task because it's going to take all of us. It's it's a lot of work to set up a tabernacle, write an outdoor worship service week after week after week.
Thanks be to God. We will not be doing that for 40 more years.
And friends. I think there's a there's a lesson in there for us both in our personal life and our communal. Life is a church. It's worth asking ourselves for. What are we willing to stand up and be counted? Right? Are there areas in our life in which our enjoyment of the benefit, outweighs our commitment and contribution. We have any relationships friendship Partnerships, right? Or we get a lot out of it, but don't really put that much in.
Do we have high expectations of time for what church is supposed to do supposed to be supposed to offer us and our family as well? Not spending too much time reflecting on what we could should be offering.
It's worth thinking about, it's worth considering.
This year, I wonder how many of us stood up for the teachers, in our midst.
And we Ponder have we poured into our teachers as much as we have expected from them this past year, I highly doubt it Joe this is been a super low pressure year, right? With tons of Parental affirmation
Okay. Are there any teachers or School administrators here with us? Do you stand up for a second?
Oh yeah, we were going to get there. So how about we all stand up and join in an uncomfortably long standing ovation for teachers and administrators?
We've learned anything this past year. It's that we're not always in control tragedy, sickness pain and sadness can strike at any time and when it inevitably does, there'll be nothing? And, I mean, absolutely nothing as comforting as having a people and a place to belong to but you can't wait until you desperately. Need the benefits to begin contributing so family of God.
We willing to stand up and be counted together.
But there's more, I didn't want to ask Todd to read the entire second chapter as well, but I think we should go there.
You see the Israelites stood up to be counted. They committed themselves to each other as they embarked into the unknown, but you may have been doing. The math is Todd was reading and needless to say, there's a lot of them and so they need to figure out where they're going to sleep, right? Where they're going to set up their tents and how they're going to move as one unit.
I'll give you just a little taste of chapter 2. We read.
The Lord again spoke to Moses and Aaron the Israelites will Camp each under the banner with the symbol of their household. They will Camp around the meeting tent, some distance from it. On the East side, towards the sunrise will be the banner of Judith camp with its military units. The chief of the people of Judah, is nausea a minute abs on his military units and those enlisted in it, or 74600 those camping on one side of him are from the tribe of issachar.
The chief of the people. This cigar is Nathaniel Zoo, her son, his military units. In those enlisted in, it are 50. 4400 on the other side, the tribe of zebulun, the chief of the people of Zebulon, Izzy lab helon son is military units, and those him listed in, it are 57400. All those. It listed in Judas camp with our military units, are a hundred and eighty-six thousand four hundred, they will March 1st.
And the chapter goes on and does that for more times in as much detail the camps to the Southside the camps to the Westside the camps to the north side. Which begs the question west of what, right on the Northside of what
And you may be caught a bit of it. At the beginning of that, reading the answer, isn't the north side of of the center of the center of the camp. We find the tent of meetings. It's the place where Moses meets with God. We also find the Levites, the priests, and the Tabernacle,
Random placement. I don't think so. Right, everyone's tense facing towards the the physical representation of God's presence among them. It's an image of alignment of communal focus and also priority. If there was an attack on this group, The Tabernacle and the priests would be defended on every side.
Anthropologists always speak later, they often speak of two types of community. We got to anthropology Majors, I think, right? Yeah. Two types of community bound communities and Center bound communities. And communities are defined by Richard borders, right by lines drawn, that separate inside, or from outside of the obvious example, or nations had a less obvious example, would be a family, but it comes to family. You're either part of the family or you're not, you're either an ancestor of Reuben Simeon, Gad, or you're not bound communities. Have a strong sense of belonging.
But they're extremely hard to enter why. They're not always the most welcoming to Outsiders.
On the other hand you have Center bound communities who are not defined by borders. Our ancestral belonging but by common, cause
Shared interest. I come. You don't Mission or Vision. That's so strong that it draws people into the center.
Better bound communities, have a strong sense of purpose and identity, but their membership tolls, or a little more ambiguous Insider and Outsider Dynamics matter, far less than accomplishing the shared mission.
So, what kind of Community are the Israelites?
On the one hand, they are a pretty extreme Edge bound Community. You're a descendant of Abraham or you're not, you are God's chosen people or you're not, they chose to organize themselves with tribal boundaries. And, and the truth is they have little or no plans to to be picking people up along the way.
I did as you keep reading the Bible you realize that this Dynamic is hard to shake. Even the early church, doesn't quite know what to do. With Gentiles AKA anyone who is not a descendant of Abraham because their edges had been they've been set and a fine. So clearly
and yet you read the way the camp is arranged and it says, if they're just beginning to identify their center, it's as if it got, it is just starting to demonstrate that they're their ultimate Glue by their purposeful distinction is not there at this city, but their connection to divinity,
The Bible is we said last week or progressive revelation, it's a journey towards God, towards reclaiming and reimagining our own goodness.
and the Israelites wandering in the wilderness are starting to have their identity shaped by the god in the center of it all
Until we finish up this morning, considering what our Center is, I what your Center is? Do you have a center where do you dry your sense of identity? Your sense of purpose from? Is it, is it from the things that you're not? Or the things that you are?
I don't, are you motivated by not being like them or by becoming more yourself?
What's your Center?
Where do you draw your sense of purpose and identity?
The setting up walls and Picket Fences, or is it bringing to life? The many things that you've been called to regardless of how many people choose to join you on the journey?
What's what's your personal Center?
What about us as a church? Sometimes, I wonder if we adjust us all churches. If, if we are more of an edge found Community or are Center bound community,
Are are we defined by membership or Mission? Are we motivated by numbers or by impact? Have there been times when we unintentionally use our past our ancestry or Traditions are our committees or clubs and as cultural boundaries that make it hard for others to break into?
Are we certainly do at times?
But not not because any one of us want the church to be an exclusive Edge bound community.
but because we're human,
And seasons of transition uncertainty, a search for new identity, it's only natural. It's only natural to recede a little to a place that feels safe.
Sometimes we need a moment to gather ourselves in the safety of belonging so that we might count some resources. Right gauge, who's ready to stand up and be counted.
And then, right and then go at the true Mission with everything we have.
Friends, no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, or what your background, or tradition is no matter where you find yourself on life's journey, you are welcome here. There are no walls or barriers to you finding belonging. Here we are a center bound community that welcomes all who are drawn into the larger purpose. We are a center bound community connected with our mission statement. Connected by our love of God and neighbor striving to bring worship. Welcome and Justice to life the best. We know how
That's our mission. That's what we've placed at the center of our camp. We're not at Country Club. We're not a political extension of the democratic party or the Republican Party.
We're not the moral, police were not a place to purchase religious services.
We are worship. Welcome Justice.
Sure, like the answer lies, we might find ourselves wandering in the Wilderness at time setting up Tabernacle week. After week after week, we might find ourselves on the edge of something altogether. New ready to re-enter the promised land so to speak.
Remind me to take a moment. We might need to the number of resources to invite people to stand up and be counted upon.
but not because we like numbers, not because we feel called to Counting
Because one day, one day my friends that the spirit of God will lead us into something new and we will all want to be prepared to jump all the way in.
Knowing that there is a crazy committed Center bound Community that's going to jump in with us.
Next week, Todd will continue the story with us. We're going to find out that God. The god at the center of the camp is not stationary or static. In fact, God's on the move. And what do you do when your Center move?
You Follow Your Move with it. Friends. Keep turning in a promise. We won't have a scripture reading like that one again. I was just special for you today.
Keep turning in as we journey alongside the Israelites, we may find ourselves in the wilderness right now, but that's not where the story ends. God has something much larger in store for us oven.
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