“Is the Lord not among us?”
How many times have all of us uttered these words?
How many times have we found ourselves in the wilderness of life, walking through our days, or perhaps stumbling through our days, with nothing going right, nothing working out, never getting what we need, never winning?
How many times have our days been spent stumbling only to have the next day arrive, and instead of it being better with our posture straightened and our steps truer, instead we fall on our face?
And then how many times has the next day arrived, and instead of it being a day that we pick ourselves up to brush ourselves off, instead someone comes along and steps on top of us, pushing us deeper into the muck and mire that we had fallen face down into.
And after each day, each moment, each failure to get better, we say, “Is the Lord not among us?”
These are times in life that seem more like an eternity than mere moments.
When God seems vacant and absent in our lives, minutes become hours, hours become days, days become years.
When God seems vacant and absent in our lives, our lives are filled with despair and discouragement.
And in those moments all we want, all we need is just a little glimpse of hope, a little nudge of encouragement, a little reminder that better days are ahead.
That is what the people in our text today were experiencing.
Their story, however, is about moments seeming to last an eternity. Indeed the minutes became hours, and the hours became days, and the days became years. And years. And years.
They were walking through the wilderness of life,
stumbling along the way, falling on their faces, getting stepped on.
To the Israelites in the wilderness, God seemed vacant and absent from their lives, lives filled with despair and discouragement.
And because of that they wanted and needed a little glimpse of hope, a little nudge of encouragement, a little reminder that better days were coming.
And so to find them they looked to Moses to show them.
But it would not be Moses who would ultimately show, them it would be God working in and through Moses that showed them the way to better days.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is a denomination that recognizes its call to action in a world filled with despair and discouragement.
It is a call that comes from God. It is a call that its members are willing to respond to.
Why is this?
Because its members are blessed with incredible gifts from God, and its members know and understand that those gifts are needed to be shared.
First Christian Church recognizes its call from God to be a part of that action in the world. And that is why we devote time and energy to Week of Compassion.
But giving to Week of Compassion and responding to our call is only one part of those efforts.
Another part is offering vision to those who benefit from our Compassion Offerings, and for us ourselves to have a vision of God in our world.
Those who are aided by Week of Compassion no doubt wonder if God is among them. For how could a loving God allow whatever tragedy has struck to happen?
Indeed we all ask that same thing when we see the death disaster rise higher and higher.
But what we can and must do is have the vision that Moses was able to find.
The world is filled with God’s presence.
We can try to abandon that vision when we ask where is God, but that is us abandoning God, not God abandoning us.
And so, when we have vision like Moses had vision, then we can faithfully perceive God’s presence in our world.
And then when we have that vision, we begin to act out and respond to our call that God has placed on us.
And when we act out and respond to that call, and the world begins to receive God’s compassionate out pouring of blessings, then the people of the world who are enduring days of despair and discouragement will find themselves yes in the midst of tragedy, but in the midst of tragedy where the Compassion of God surrounds them, and where they will surely know that the Lord is among them.