Moses implored God: “Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” Then the Lord relented and did not bring on the people the disaster God had threatened. – Exodus 32:13-14 (NIV)
God’s anger is burning hot. The people have made a golden idol and are worshiping it instead of God. From the get-go, the covenant with God is very clear on the “no images” business. But there that calf sits, big and gold and graven (graven is particularly bad, I think), and God is mad. So mad, God is about to be rid of these idol-fashioners and start fresh.
Then Moses calms God down, recounting the beauty of the promises God had made. Would God really allow anger to wash away promises made in love?
God’s anger cools.
My hunch is there’s a lot of anger simmering away in our churches. Anger from members misdirected at pastors for not handling the pandemic the way they would prefer. Anger from pastors misdirected at members for not handling the pandemic the way they would prefer. It’s okay to be mad. None of this is going how any of us want. And whoever you are who is reading this: it’s not your fault.
Because from the get-go, the covenant we make as church is very clear on the “caring for each other in hard times” business. Remember the beauty of the promises we make to one another? Are we going to allow anger to wash away those promises made in love?
May our anger cool, too.
God, help us keep our covenant to love one another.
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.