Weekly Devotion for February 20, 2023
By Amanda Stein
I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink. So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. Exodus 17:6
Last Saturday was a beautiful day. The sun was out, and the weather was only a 'usual' amount of Wisconsin-cold. One hundred-plus of you came together for a celebration to honor my installation as the new SW District Superintendent. We gathered, coming from all parts of the district and state to worship in the beautiful sanctuary First UMC in the historic town of Mineral Point. It was a day to give thanks for the terrific people of SW Wisconsin and begin a new stage of shared ministry.
As I looked upon the congregation from the chancel, I could not help but feel humbled. I was so blessed to be named by Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, and have so many of my mentors, friends, family, colleagues, and new associates share the day with me. As I reflected upon the worship, I realized that February 11 was a day that I received a big pitcher of delicious Christian Methodist-flavored water to quench my thirsty spirit.
In this passage from Exodus, there is a retelling of the journey of the Israelites through the difficult time of the wilderness. God had promised Moses and the Hebrew people that they will make it to the Promised Land. But as they slogged through the wilderness, the people became tired and agitated. They became extremely thirsty and demanded Moses care for them. With anger and fear they shouted, "Give us water! Why on earth did you bring us here? You're going to kill us!" In Exodus 17:4 Moses cried to God, "What shall I do with these people?!" Fearing for his life he pleaded with God.
While I have not had a lot of time right now to theologically reflect on my new role, I have found some similarities to Moses' experience. For example, as we drag through the difficult days of this wilderness of disaffiliation, I too, have found myself crying out to God like Moses, "What am I supposed to do? Where are you, God? Can you please help me out here?!"
But then in the midst of this hardship, I received an unexpected gift from God-- a full and joyous day of respite and spiritual restoration. Last Saturday in that service, together we struck a moment of holy refreshment in a time when all of our lives seem rock-hard. There, in the midst of elders of our faith community-- beloved family, clergy, and distinguished lay persons-- God provided for us and renewed us.
I feel like this could make a really good sermon someday, but in the meantime, I will keep this brief and close by saying thank you to all of you. By your prayers, presence, gifts, and witness, you have cared for me. You nudged not only me but all present to continue down the road of compassion and grace during a tough time in the life of the United Methodist Church. May we all continue to care for one another in such ways that keep us steadfast on our path toward the Promised Land.