First Sunday After Trinity by Bruce Pennie
Having made the promise ‘Everything that the LORD has spoken we will do’, almost the next thing the people of Israel do, once Moses’s back is turned, is build the Golden Calf and worship that, instead of God. Without their shepherd, they quickly became lost. Words, as they say, are cheap. How easy it often is to make a promise or agree to something, only to find it proves much harder to follow through than we had anticipated. The promise made in Exodus 19 has a very hollow ring to it when you know how the story subsequently unfolds. Yet, despite the broken promise, God did not abandon them. To a greater or lesser extent, they got back on track with observance of the rules and regulations that were set down. Yet something was missing. The Pharisees, the religious elite of the time, might bully and harass the people into line, but for all the religious observance in the world, they remained helpless. What the leaders failed to do was look after the people and lead them into a knowledge and love of God. We can fall into the same trap – of thinking religious observance is what God wants. As the Covid rules have closed our churches, have you felt lost – harassed and helpless? At baptism and confirmation we promise not to go to church regularly, but to believe and trust in God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The antidote to being harassed and helpless is set out by Paul. He talks of boasting “in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” And that comes not through religious observance but “because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit”. Throughout his writings, Paul makes it clear that we should not expect an easy path through life. But if we try and fully live out our baptismal vows, to believe and trust in God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are rewarded with God’s love living in our hearts.