November 1, 2015: A Different Experience of God than Our Parents

Posted on : Oct 29th, 2015 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

This Sunday we are nearing the conclusion of our journey through Exodus. Two weeks ago, we discussed the building of the Ark of the Covenant. The purpose of that Ark was to bring God into the midst of the community. It symbolized that God was personally with them – and also us – on their and our journey of faith.

But the Ark of the Covenant also symbolized something else. It symbolized the “institutionalization” of religion. A priestly – ministerial – class emerged and sadly, they had more direct access to God than any of the rest. That story continues this week as we learn of the building not only of the Ark of the Covenant – “the chest” in which the Law (Ten Commandments) would be placed and from which God would speak to the people through the priestly class – but also a “Tabernacle.” The Tabernacle was a “tent” in which the Ark was placed. It was intended to to be transported with the people as they journeyed toward the Promised Land. However, it was one of the most structurally sound “tents” ever built! Here is a diagram of what the Tabernacle probably looked like:

So why is all this ritual and formality coming into this story? And why is the “narrative” of the story changing? Rabbi Denise Eger of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood has a brilliant insight into those questions. She writes:

Moses is familiar with the old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind.”   If we have a God we can’t see then perhaps we will forget. And Moses fears just that. The Children of Israel will forget God and the many miracles already done for them once they enter the Promised Land and meet the locals! Moses will no longer be with them to remind them. He is talking to the generation born in the desert. They weren’t in Egypt. They didn’t experience the direct power of the saving God of Israel through the plagues or the parting of the Sea of Reeds. This group, the next generation has a different experience of the God of liberation than their parents.

Friends, we are “the next generation.” This Sunday as we celebrate All Saints Sunday we remember those who have shown us the faithfulness of God and worked to bring us closer into the Realm of God, but each of us knows, “The Next Generation Has a Different Experience of God than their Parents.”

Today, we who follow Christ are experiencing one of the most dramatic generational shifts in our religion and religious practices since at least the Protestant Reformation, which began in 1517. Never has the Exodus story been more real or relevant to our journey of faith than today. More on Sunday!




~ This Sunday’s Scriptures ~

Exodus 25-27

(selected portions)

Exodus 25

Then God said to Moses: 2Tell the Israelites to take an offering for me; from all whose hearts prompt them to give you shall receive the offering for me. 8And have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them. 9In accordance with all that I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

10 They shall make an ark of acacia wood. 11You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside you shall overlay it, and you shall make a molding of gold upon it all round. 16You shall put into the ark the covenant that I shall give you.

22There I will meet you, and from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the covenant, I will deliver to you all my commands for the Israelites.

23 You shall make a table of acacia wood. 24You shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a molding of gold around it. 30And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me always.

31 You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. 37You shall make the seven lamps for it; and the lamps shall be set up so as to give light on the space in front of it. 38Its snuffers and trays shall be of pure gold.

Exodus 26

Moreover, you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twisted linen, and blue, purple, and crimson yarns; you shall make them with cherubim skillfully worked into them.

7 You shall also make curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; you shall make eleven curtains.

14You shall make for the tent a covering of tanned rams’ skins and an outer covering of fine leather.

15 You shall make upright frames of acacia wood for the tabernacle. 29You shall overlay the frames with gold. 30Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to the plan for it that you were shown on the mountain.

31 You shall make a curtain of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen; it shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it. 34You shall put the mercy-seat on the ark of the covenant in the most holy place. 35You shall set the table outside the curtain, and the lampstand on the south side of the tabernacle opposite the table; and you shall put the table on the north side.

36 You shall make a screen for the entrance of the tent, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen, embroidered with needlework.

Exodus 27

You shall make the altar of acacia wood. 2You shall make horns for it on its four corners.

9 You shall make the court of the tabernacle. On the south side the court shall have hangings of fine twisted linen one hundred cubits long for that side; 10its twenty pillars and their twenty bases shall be of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their bands shall be of silver. 20 You shall further command the Israelites to bring you pure oil of beaten olives for the light, so that a lamp may be set up to burn regularly. 21In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that is before the covenant, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before God. It shall be a perpetual ordinance to be observed throughout their generations by the Israelites.

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