By the time Moses makes it back to camp, the people of God are under the spell of the golden calf. God says they “are ruining everything.” And God makes it clear that divine fury will soon burn and devour them.

But for reasons not given in the passage, Moses does not take God’s decision as the last word on the subject. Instead, he pleads with the Lord to change his mind and not carry out the intention to destroy the people. Amazingly, Moses’ intercession prevails, and “the Lord changed his mind about the terrible things he said he would do to his people” (ceb).

Fast forward to Jesus’ time. A woman has been caught in the act of adultery. The law is clear: She must die. Bona fide religious leaders gather around her to make sure she gets what is prescribed. But Jesus is there too, and like Moses he intervenes and prevents her stoning. (See John 8:2-11.)

Whenever the people of God get it wrong because of their expectations, it’s easy to think in terms of consequences: “They made their bed, let them lie in it” or some other version of, “They get what they deserve.” From the lesson today, it seems God has felt that way too. But however the mind of God changes, the story in Exodus ends where the story of the woman ends: with mercy. When we read the Psalm lesson tomorrow, we will discover the pivot. Today, it is enough to be amazed at how things turned out. If, for a moment, we put ourselves into Moses’ or Jesus’ shoes, we may discover times when we must go and do likewise, so that grace is the last word—even when the people of God get it wrong.

Dear God, I am quick to cry out for mercy when I am wrong. Give me the vision and will to cry out for mercy when others get it wrong. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 22:1-14

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Lectionary Week
October 5–11, 2020
Scripture Overview

The texts this week remind us of how quickly we can turn away from God. Even while Moses is on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments—the first of which is not to worship any other gods—the people fashion an idol and begin to worship it. The psalmist refers to this story as evidence of how often the Israelites have gone astray, and yet God repeatedly has restored them. The parable in Matthew speaks of many who are invited to a banquet, yet they reject the invitation of the king. It is often read as a warning about turning our backs on God’s gracious invitation. Paul encourages the Philippians to seek God with confidence in difficult situations and to focus their thoughts in ways that lead them closer to God.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Exodus 32:1-14. When have you or your faith community gotten it wrong? When have you interceded with God on others’ behalf?
Read Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23. How has forgetting that you can be wrong hurt you or your faith community? How has admitting that you were wrong strengthened you or your faith community?
Read Philippians 4:1-9. What issue or conflict has divided your faith community? How might Paul’s urging to “be of the same mind in the Lord” help you work toward peace?
Read Matthew 22:1-14. What work might you need to do to open your heart so you can resolve a conflict?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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