Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keep in Touch newsletter/pew sheet for 6 September 2020
I’m not a fan of opening the bible at random to find advice for a particular problem, or course of action. There is a good joke about that sort of thing, treating God’s Word like a ouija board, and perhaps I’ll weave it into a sermon one Sunday when the lectionary reading is suitable. Although now I think about it, the punchline assumes knowledge of American bankruptcy law, so it might be a bit esoteric.
However! My birthday last week, like all birthdays at my age, had me wondering when it would be a good time to hang up my pastor boots, in fairness to KUC as well as to me. Which, to digress, reminds me of the story about Denis Healey, the great British Labour Party figure who was “The finest Labour Prime Minister we never had”. On his 90th birthday, a BBC interviewer asked, “Lord Healey, what’s it like to be 90?” The sprightly old sage shot back “Better than the alternative”. But to get back to wondering about mortality, pastoral as well as biological, I happened at the same time to open Bible Gateway to look up something to do with this week’s readings, and was presented with Joshua 31: ‘Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you.”’ So you and I have another almost 50 years together.
The context of the passage, though, is encouraging for all Christian communities. Moses had just been told that he would not himself enter the Promised Land. But even the Children of Israel were not a one man band, notwithstanding Moses’ divinely validated leadership before and during 40 years of wandering in the desert. Prophets come, prophets go, pastors come, pastors go (not until 2067, mind you) but God’s people are led by God who isn’t here today, gone tomorrow. So in case you’re feeling a bit rudderless in these pandemic times, here’s more of Moses’ retirement speech from Joshua 31: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”