To end the Spring 2017 semester, we had the classiest of classy Cafés on Tuesday night. There were bountiful amounts of cheesecake, Shirley temples, nice attire, and an opportunity to make your own monocle.
We also talked about change, and how the end of the school year can mean some major life changes for some people - seniors about to graduate, interns about to move on, students about to study abroad, people leaving for the summer, etc. While these life changes can be daunting at times, it's comforting to know that God is still with us through it all.
Jeremy talked about 2 stories from the Bible that help illustrate the idea of God with us. The first was from the Old Testament - the story of Moses being told by God that he would help free his people from the oppression of the Egyptians.
God asks Moses to do something that is way out of his comfort zone, and Moses responds just how any of us probably would - by asking questions. God doesn't promise Moses it will be easy, but he does promise to be with him through it all. He also gives Moses an odd response when Moses asks for God's name, just saying "I am who I am." Translated, this phrase is spelled out YHWH in English, and looks like this in Hebrew:The LORD said, 10 "So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation. 16 “Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’"
It's an odd name for a lot of reasons, but a major one being that this word, YHWH, is a verb as opposed to a noun. God is saying he isn't meant to be distant, or something we can easily describe or put in a box. Instead, he tells us that he is, was, and will always be.
This response is similar to what Jesus tells his disciples during his final days on earth after the resurrection. Matthew 28:16-20 says:
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”While Jesus had shown the disciples time and time again that he was the Messiah - performing miracles, resurrecting, etc - they still doubted at times. Even with this doubt, Jesus challenges them to go make disciples of all nations. And while I'm sure they had many questions, they end up following his commands and changing the world for the rest of time. Their willingness to follow Jesus, though they probably felt unqualified and inadequate, is the reason why you and I are here today - reading/writing about Jesus and how he is/was/will always be. Jesus doesn't tell the disciples it will be easy, and for many of them it wasn't, but he does tell them that he will be with them always, to the very end of the age.