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The Rev. Dr. Emily C. Heath The Rev. Emily Heath

The Rev. Dr. Emily C. Heath is Senior Pastor of the Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire (UCC), and a writer and public theologian. She is the author of 'Glorify: Reclaiming the Heart of Progressive Christianity' (Pilgrim Press).

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The Congregational Church in Exeter UCC, Exeter, NH


Emily C. Heath: Ready to Move

September 14, 2017

The Lord said, "I've been paying close attention to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt. I've decided to take you away from the harassment in Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land full of milk and honey." - Exodus 3:16-18

Do you ever feel like God's not paying attention? I've felt that way before. Sometimes I'll look at the unfairness of the world, and the way that evil seems to win out, and I'll wonder, "Doesn't God care?"

In the midst of their captivity in Egypt, my guess is that the Israelites wondered that too. Where was God? Why wasn't God doing anything? How much longer did they have to remain here, building the Pharaoh's city? 

People sometimes ask me why God doesn't seem to care about injustice. Doesn't God know that people are suffering? It's a fair question. When we watch the news, God feels so far away.

I used to tell people that God does know what is happening, and that God is right there with those who suffer the most, surrounding them with compassion and love. I think that was true, but I'm not sure how helpful that was for the people I met. Today it feels a little too glib and easy an answer.

Jesus once said that a sparrow doesn't fall to the earth without God knowing. If that's true, I think God knows when we are in pain, when the unjust gain power, or when things feel hopeless. I think God does, indeed, pay close attention.

I sometimes wonder if God's not just paying attention to what is happening, though, but to how we are responding. How are we confronting the evils of this world? When are we standing up for others, and when are we standing back?

I believe there will be a time when God will lead us into a "land full of milk and honey." I believe that, because I believe in a God who pays attention. I sometimes wonder, though, whether God might be waiting for us to signal that we are ready. When we start to participate in the liberation of one another maybe then, when God knows we are truly ready to move to the promised land, God will make a way out for us all. 

Prayer

God, please keep paying close attention, and please help us get ready to move. Amen.

 

From UCC's StillSpeaking devotionals


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