Daily Lenten Devotional – March 30, 2020

To the Church in Exile,

The peace of Christ be with you. Our daily lectionary reading is from Exodus 4. The Lord Yahweh has seen the misery of the Israelites, heard their cries, and knows their suffering. From the burning bush, Yahweh has called Moses to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians. Moses is hesitant to take on the role and conversation ensues. We pick it up as God is getting rather testy with the resistant prophet:

But Moses said to the LORD, “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 11Then the LORD said to him, “Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.” 13But he said, “O my Lord, please send someone else.” 14Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses and he said, “What of your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know that he can speak fluently; even now he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you his heart will be glad. 15You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you what you shall do. 16He indeed shall speak for you to the people; he shall serve as a mouth for you, and you shall serve as God for him. 17Take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.”

This story teaches us about leadership. Leadership in God’s story is about humility. It’s about what God can do through you not what you can do on your own with God’s badge of approval. It’s about teamwork. Aaron joins the team and together these brothers will be what God needs them to be.   ​

That the brothers go with God is more important than going with their own schemes, smarts, and speaking skills. “Who gives speech to mortals?  Who makes the mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” It’s not really about Moses at all. Again, it’s all about God. “Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.”​

One thing about America in this season, is that there is a winnowing of leaders. Look around you. Real leaders are like Moses and then there are the anti-leaders. The real leader is humble while the anti-leader grandstands. The real leader is about the task; the anti-leader is about themselves. The anti-leader is about placing blame onto someone else; the real leader doesn’t place blame but bears the pain.​

I think this story also elevates the reality that leadership so often is generated not by self or choice, but by the crisis.​

I have so often been one to shirk from leadership. However, I think the beginning of leadership for me began way back during spring 1996. In the fourth week of Lent, the moderator of the Deacon Board at the church I served as pastor and our main choir soloist was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. A few days later my father died. Two weeks after that, just ten hours before Easter services, the former and founding pastor of our church died suddenly at age sixty-three. That Easter evening a forty-one-year-old mother of two had a cardiac arrest while swimming in a pool.  She was pronounced dead four days later when her family took her off life support. In that two-year period, in a church half the size of Bethany, I buried five parents all thirty-eight to forty-two years of age. I barely knew what I was doing, but there was immense communal grief, serious theological questioning, and I was there.   

Was I good at this? I don’t know. Was I eloquent of speech? Sometimes. What I do know is that God was present in powerful ways and I did not get in the way too much. I used the staff God had given me. I was an instrument.  ​

Moses teaches us to be an instrument.​

What is this dark season asking of you? Where has God placed you? How does God want to use you? Moses didn’t have all the assets, but he was there, and he had this God. You do too. And what you don’t have in terms of skill set, someone in your company, school, neighborhood, family does. Pay attention to the Aarons sent your way. And remember, you go nowhere by accident, but wherever you go, God is sending you… and, above all, is with you.​

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me by your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose, through Jesus Christ my Lord.  Amen.

Peace in Christ,


Doug Kelly, Senior Pastor
Bethany Presbyterian Church
(206) 284-2222, x11

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