Transitions are often difficult. They often involve a sense of loss, even a kind of death. They can be disturbing and leave us bewildered about the shape of the future. Old routines and habits are disrupted and new ones not yet established. All sorts of fears can begin to crowd in, and questions about faith become acute. What do we really believe – as opposed to what we thought we believed (but which may have just been part of the furniture of our life, a matter of words and habits). Transitions may trigger a disorienting crisis – perhaps like what we are experiencing at the moment.
The painting is of a dying Moses looking at the promised land, which he has been told he will not enter himself.
Tomorrow, we have two stories about the children of Israel being on the banks of the Jordan about to cross over to possess the land promised to them by God. The first story took place not long after the Exodus from Egypt. But they were intimidated by reports of huge walled cities and giant soldiers who defended the land. They listened to their fears, decided that conquest was impossible and turned back to the wilderness, where they continued to eke out a meager existence for the next thirty eight years. However much they may have thought they believed in God’s promises to provide them with a land of their own, when push came to shove, they failed the test. Their faith did not enable them to take decisive action. Only after the generation that had refused the challenge of faith had died out, did another opportunity to enter the Promise Land arise. The circumstances were complicated by a change in leadership: a dying Moses is succeeded by Joshua. But human leadership is not the key factor. The texts emphasize that what is essential is the conviction that God is with them, and deep faith in God’s promises. Given sufficient faith, nothing is impossible. The human factors (great walled cities) and the size of those who defend the land pale into insignificance in comparison to the power of God operating through faith.
Order of Service
Call to Worship
Hymn 313: “O worship the King”
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
Declaration of Grace and Lord’s Prayer
Responsive reading: Psalm 27
Anthem: Psaume 27
Numbers 13 (selected verses)
Deuteronomy 31: 1-8
Hymn 641: “The God of Abraham praise”
Hymn: “If You But Trust in God to Guide You”
Prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Hymn 685: “How firm a foundation”
Go now in Peace