We’re the stay-at-home Labor weekend people, who might avoid traffic jams, the rush to pack and later unpack, the expenses of lodging and entertainment, and the frustrations of rain and weather that can ruin all the outdoor plans. Here, we can have a stay-at-home retreat as we imagine ourselves into being there with Moses going about his work of tending sheep, until he sees a bush that is aflame with fire but not consumed. and hears,
“Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet,
for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
With that order, his workplace becomes a holy place that has him taking off his sandals, not only as a sign of reverence for God, but as his intention to put off, to laid aside workday dirt and plans and pressures and cultural and social ties, so nothing would get in the way for God to be near.
His story becomes a stay-at-home holiday retreat for us as we use this time to “remove our sandals” – the “sandals” of the pressure of work, or job hunting, of exhaustion, frustration, of all that is overwhelming us with worry, sending us into despair because of the daily news or a loved one’s illness, or a personal crisis.
“Remove the sandals” – whatever it is that needs to be put off” to let God live up to the name Moses demanded to know, and was told:
“I AM WHO I AM.” … “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” …This is my name forever and this my title for all generations.
This is OUR stay-at-home holiday retreat to: “Let go, and let God” and let the "I AM" God prove to be worthy of that name.
The Rev. Anna Dederer, missionary to Micronesia during the Japanese occupation of the Pacific area from the 1930’s on to the end of WWII, was first sent by the Liebenzell Mission of Heilbronn, Germany. When war was declared, she became a prisoner of the Japanese; being Christian took precedent over being German and that
made her one of the enemy, along with American missionaries. As our Navy began day and night shelling of what was then called the island of Truk, the citadel of the Japanese High Command, they were put in a cave with ammunition cases across the opening, so the Americans would be blamed for killing them.
But not one case exploded, and when our Navy landed, they found the emaciated missionaries, and eventually accepted Anna as a Christian, not a German prisoner whose country had just lost the war,
and she was adopted by our UCC mission board and we became the recipient of her stories.
When hearing her tell of the deafening blasts that could have driven a person insane before being blown to pieces, we asked, “How did you cope?” and she answered, “Day and night we recited Psalm 91:
“You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.”…
When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them.”
In this stay-at-home holiday retreat, Anna becomes the inspiration to pray that Psalm and to dare to commit to trusting: “Let go, and let God.” To trust the “I AM God”
This is also OUR stay-at-home holiday retreat to imagine ourselves being there with Jesus’ disciples – now His 21st century followers- who hear Him say:
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves
and take up their cross and follow me.
For those who want to save their life will lose it,
and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
This is OUR stay-at-home holiday retreat to: “Take up our cross and follow Jesus.”
Ben Utrecht had his moments of fame on the football field until that fateful day in 2007 . (Quoted from: www.guideposts.org/inspiration/inspiring-stories/stories-of-faith/what-does-let- go-and-let-god-really-mean)
In a game against the Denver Broncos, a defensive back leaped over him, trying to get to the ball carrier, and his foot clipped the back of Ben’s helmet. He crumpled to the ground and later had no memory of it. He needed to sign a long-term contract for the financial security of his family, and passed when tested for a concussion.
At that time he also met Sandi Patty, a Christian music star, who took him under her wing and had him join her on stage, singing before 100,000 people, where he stood wearing his Super Bowl ring.
But by 2008 he couldn’t remember the plays or having sung earlier in his friend’s wedding, and his frustration turned to angry outbursts. Tests brought the fateful news: brain injury!
He had to turn from playing, to singing with a Christian group – with words taped to the floor of the stage. When the tour ended, he sank into deep depression and confessed, “The truth I should have known but tried to avoid: Everything … comes down to my ability to remember. That is why… I’ve been doing a new kind of training, for cognitive fitness.”
It is the “cross” he has taken up to bear the weight of 120 hours of brain training which was as hard as any NFL training camp.With a brain trainer and work his long-term memory has raised from the bottom to the 78-98 percentile. He says, “Isn’t it awesome what the Lord can do when you let him make the best of you?”
and he could add, “When you take up your cross and follow Jesus.”
with our United Church of Christ “Statement of Faith” having us say (Jesus): “… promises to all who trust him forgiveness of sins and
fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace,
his presence in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in his
kingdom which has no end.”
This stay-at-home holiday retreat is our time to confess:
“Jesus, I my cross have taken to rise up and follow you.”
Because scholars are not able to locate where Moses stood on holy ground before an I AM God, they say it is more of a recurring moment, than a place,
and because Jesus completed the "I AM" pledge of God as He said, "I am with you always,
any day, anywhere is the time to have a stay-at-home retreat,
beginning with today. Amen.