back-to-back retreats

Campfire sunset and s’mores, late nite board games, rustic dorm rooms. An “all fellowship” retreat. The togetherness was precious, knowing that we could not “all” be there. Holding our brothers and sisters in our hearts as with us on the journey.

These are the words of the covenant the Lord commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in the land of Moab in addition to the covenant he had made with them at Horeb. Moses summoned all Israel…. Deut. 29:1-2 (CEB)

Brunch is the highlight of our togetherness. Each person toasting a gratitude for our faith community. We find ourselves in difficult times- in our nation and in our individual lives. Valuing deeply our connection to each other. Thankful for our calling to seek more justice, more love, more mercy. 

Our communal gatherings strengthen our relationships and understanding of our purpose. At this time, in this place. We look back. At previous covenants. Recalling God’s faithfulness. Deliverance from bondage. Our own wanderings. The desert, the mountain, the Instruction, the water from the rock. 

And we look ahead. Glimpses of challenges to come. Rivers to cross. Hostile territory. The unknown. Who will lead, and who will go with us? 

Then Moses said these words to all Israel, telling them: I’m 120 years old today. I can’t move around well anymore. Plus, the Lord told me “You won’t cross the Jordan River.” But the Lord your God, he’s the one who will cross over before you! Deut. 31:1-3a (CEB)

This transition wasn’t news. Joshua had been with them all along. And it wasn’t like the people were always happy with Moses! So many times they blamed him for their difficulties and voted to get someone else to lead the way they wanted. But now? 

Moses reminds them of their identity, chosen of God. The Lord is the One. God saw their cries and sent relief and rescue. Repeatedly. Through Moses, through manna. God is the rock that quenches their thirst. Their cloud by day and their fire by night. According to the need, God raises up leaders for each time and purpose.

Then Moses called Joshua and, with all Israel watching, said to him: “Be strong and fearless because you are the one who will lead this people…. But the Lord is the one who is marching before you! He is the one who will be with you! He won’t let you down. He won’t abandon you. So don’t be afraid or scared!” Deut. 31:7-8 (CEB)

As I sit looking out on the well-tended grounds of the Catholic retreat center, I am surrounded by silence. Comfy bed, solitary meals, sidewalks, statuary, and reliable wi-fi. A contrasting retreat. A response to my calling to serve the community. My version of staying in the tent with the presence of the Lord after Moses returns to the people. (Ex. 33:11) To remain in the Presence and prepare. 

It is not all about me. Or Moses. Or Joshua. Or any individual. The Lord will be with you. The Lord won’t abandon you or let you down. Though in the dark of the desert or with the giants ahead, we falter. That too is part of our story. But today we hear, “Don’t be afraid or scared!” May we lean on those words as we begin this next stage of our journey together. 

Bulletin: 8/11
Order of Service: 8/11
Sermon: Justice, Not ‘Just Us’ -Amos
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