All in the Family: …ANYthing…Better’n You!

If anybody ever had a right to sing the song I suppose it was Aaron.

Moses’ brother. You might remember that song. “I can do anything better than you can, I can do anything better than you. ‘No you can’t!’ Yes I can. Yes I can. YES I CAN!’” How many brothers and sisters, and spouses, and parents and children, and cousins, and classes, and co-workers and even church folk have joined that combative chorus across time?! My, my. Amongst the stuff that’s all in the family, this is surely 1 big box full. But maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t have to be. Let’s go back to Aaron and Moses. They can help us. And then there’s Paul and Timothy, not brothers in the blood, but brothers in the faith. They can teach us a thing or two as well. To tell you the truth, we’ve got a lot to learn.

O, we’ve been asked to take a look at families this fall. Ours, the Bible’s. What can we learn from them? How can they help us live more faithfully here upon earth and more eagerly toward heaven? So far, we’ve been lookin’ at ourselves through the eyes of some of Scripture’s more infamous kin. Oops! We began with Cain and Able. ‘Turns out kids really do say the darnedest stuff. Like, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We sure are! ‘See, misdirection won’t do. We can’t blame our brothers for our own faults. That can be lethal! We can’t replace good parenting so we’d better be good parents. GOD has a stake in it. We alone are responsible for our own lives and each others’. In the end, at the end, God asks all of us, not just Cain, “What have you done?” God listens for the earth to testify about us: “blood” or “blessing”. We’ve heard this month from Joseph and his brothers. We’ve been reminded sin often sports a colorful coat and lands us all in the pits! SO: be on the lookout for both. Joseph could’ve fried his brothers for selling him into slavery. He forgives/feeds them instead. Lesson: give grace a chance. Forgive deeply, and often. Look at life with an upward eye t’ward God’s intent for you, not a darting eye that assesses blame. At the Lord’s Last Supper he shows and says the same. OK… so now we’re down to Aaron and Moses. What can we learn from them?

It all depends on your choice of song. Aaron has his pick. I can do anything better than you. OR, You just call on me, Brother, when

you need a hand, we all need somebody to lean on. Moses doesn’t have to pick. He’s the older one. He went to “Prep School” down in Egypt (well, at least that might be how Aaron thought of it). Moses didn’t have to labor in the slave pits making bricks without straw! Aaron did. For all the “spoilage”, we might say, Moses is the one with the lisp, or the stutter, or whatever it was, even if he did look like Charlton Hesston at his buffest and best. Aaron ended up the smooth talker, the negotiator with the authorities, and the bold one who had the bravery to speak for God with all his heart. These brothers were not peas in a pod. ‘Coulda turned ugly or resentful, but they found purpose and calling in a common love for God.

There are lessons here for every one of us who’s ever wanted to shake a rod in some Pharaoh’s face (and we do still have them) and holler, “Let me and my loved ones go!” 1st lesson: God blesses us with difference to save us, not to sink or sorrow us. How many of us hear God’s call to do something and respond like Moses? “O, my LORD, ask somebody else. I got this, this thing. And I can’t, just can’t.” I love God’s answer. I’ve heard it myself. “Scuse me, but I made the thing, and I made you bigger!” Your fear? God made the thing, and made you bigger! Your illness? God made the thing, and made you bigger! Your unemployment? (All) God made the thing, and made you bigger! Your depression? (All) God made the thing, and made you bigger! 'You’re learning problem or family problem? (All) God made the thing, and made you bigger! But there’s more. God made your brother and your sister… and made them better! At least at something! Better. A helper. Your helper. Your mentor. Your other, better half. ‘The one who completes you for mission and makes you a miracle worker, just like Aaron does Moses! Who does that for you? …Somebody does. Who might do it for you, if only you’d give them a chance? Somebody. Adam has Eve. Moses has Aaron. Jeremiah’s got Baruch. Jesus has Peter for his Rock. Paul has Barnabas his teacher and Timothy his student. Who’ve YOU got? God’s givin’ you somebody, ‘cause God gives everybody somebody! And if you cannot see who that is, look close! ‘For someone likely different, ‘maybe opposite of you. God made them better… to make you BIGGER, for God and for good!

Moses and Aaron learned lesson #1. It brought them to lesson #2.

It’s all in the family. God gifts us with each other to mobilize, not to monopolize. It’s never all about us. It’s all about our mission. ‘Ain’t just Moses what gets told, “See that you do all the miracles I have put in your power.” It’s not about you. Or just your kids/grands. Do that for life and you end up a happy herder like Moses if he says with Jethro. Comfortable, but still with a price on your head. ‘Not for some Egyptian you did in, like Moses, but for slaying God’s dream for you and everybody who completes you in His service. My Sunday Soccer friends outback aren’t bigger sinners or lesser souls than we in here. But they risk being saints-diminished if they don’t get the Word. THE kick outta life comes more from a kindness conveyed by a cross than a goal that glories nestled in an empty net. MLK was right. “The end of life is not to be happy, but to do the will of God.”  I’ve lost two beloved mentors lately. John Godsey, my theology teacher. He taught me theology is not just to be thought but to be done. He insisted, like his own best teacher. Christians dare not despair at the interruptions others bring to their day.  Those interruptions ARE the day Christ has brought for us to serve! Bishop Mathews was my other loss. I loved him. Evangelist. Missionary. Visionary. Vessel of stories and giver of radiant grins. But I loved him because he taught me what he taught his own children and I hope to teach mine/yours, myself/yourself. “We got [our father’s] message that we are called to make a personal decision in our lives. What are we going to do of value to others [for Jesus’ sake]?” Anne Mathews Younes

And this brings us to that other lesson on the lips of Aaron, from the lips of Moses, from the lips of God. Paul saw it in a vision. And showed it to Timothy. And offers it to us. Lesson #3 today. Brothers and sisters in faith and life don’t go where they want. They go where they’re wanted. Needed. Called. Moses Egyptian passport had been revoked. He was an illegal alien without benefit of green card! He didn’t wanna go. The wilderness wasn’t his choice. 40 years he saw no way out. ‘Just knew to follow the fire and smoke of God’s presence. Paul & Timothy thought Asia anathema, 'til they heard that voice, “Come on over to Macedonia and help us to be saved.” There’s somewhere you don’t wanna go you’re called to go. Watch for a vision. Listen for a voice. Then GO! It’s OK. Somebody’s goin’ with you. A sister, maybe. A brother. Even our brother Jesus Christ. And should we shrink at the thought, for mercy’s sake Jesus will sing, ““I can do anything better than you can, I can do anything better than you. Yes I can. Yes I can. YES I CAN!’” And I will do it… FOR YOU. So… Just call on me, Sinner, when you need a hand, we all need somebody to lean on.

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