Daily Office Readings for Tuesday after the Fourth Sunday of Easter: Year 2
“They said to me, “Make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”” (Exodus 32:23)
There are so many problems going on here that we should be made aware of. First, Aaron is weak. He is subdued by a scared and vicious mob. Then Aaron tries to convince Moses of the “sensibility” of his weakness. Second, we can’t “make” gods. The very nature of a god is that such a one is well beyond our existence. Of course it is possible to make representative images of what we believe such gods would look like. But our God has a strict Commandment against that. Here’s a hint; if we can make it, it cannot really be a god, especially not our God. We ourselves were created by God our Creator. Lastly, if we do not know what happened to someone, we should always assume they are alive in the Lord until otherwise is shown.
Now for me, there is sadness in this reading because it tells of mass murder from Moses and the Levites. I leave it to you to think what you will about that.
The point here is that there is only one God, and God is not made with hands or anything. God always was and always will be. And this is true before we existed and will be true long after we exist no more. God does not need us to be God. But we do need God to be us.
While we are ordered not to make anything to resemble God, we can, and should, use the earth provided materials of art to help and aid us in the worship of God. In fact in Chapter 35 of Exodus God begins to give Moses specific instructions about how to craft worship space and items. Today, using our God-given memory, reason and skill, we have continued in making items that assist us in our worship of God. Today we have stained glass windows, paintings and icons, music, candles and incense, our Book of Common Prayer and the Bible, which is not to worship, but rather to assist us in our worship of God.
Without doubt, prayer is the most powerful source for worship. Prayer is something that all humans can produce even if a person has no hands or discerned gifts of art. To just sit quietly and opening one’s self to God is the greatest worship mechanism anyone can do. Aaron could have used this advice to strengthen him against the insistence of the people to make a calf. We too must be diligent in prayer. There are always anxieties around from some kind of fear that tries to move our loyalty from God to something human made. Let us not fall into Aaron’s mistake and give in to panic. God is present and loving and will intercede on our behalf. God is good, all the time.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John