The texts allocated for this week are not “easy”! (The Gospel reading is Mark 9: 38-52.) In fact these are texts I prefer to avoid. We don’t want to read about Israel nagging about meat, about how Moses grumbled about his calling, about the disciples playing ‘power games’ and claiming the power of Christ only for themselves, about stumbling blocks and millstones and we definitely do not enjoy reading that it might be to our benefit to amputate a leg or an arm!
There are so many thoughts that could be highlighted in the readings for this Sunday, but time after time my thoughts return to Moses’ cry of frustration in Num. 11:11 (NIV): “What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?” and later in verse 14 “I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.”
It is clear that Moses is not enthusiastic about his calling; in fact, he would gladly walk away from all his responsibilities!
I recently spoke to a friend I have known for a long time. Someone I often describe as a wonderful and passionate leader, of a faith based organisation that does wonderful work. But this time she did not inspire me. In fact, she sounded like Moses! I heard the echo in her words: “I can’t take it anymore! These people expect me to carry them all alone!”
“All alone”, my friend grumbled. “By myself”, complained Moses.
Maybe this is their problem, but also the problem of many of us trying to change something in society! We try to do things ‘all alone’, ‘by ourselves’. Not only is this not God’s way, it can be harmful to ourselves and others, and is in fact a form of arrogance! “"Is the LORD's arm too short?” (23), God says to Moses. God does not expect Moses to operate without God’s power. God also helps Moses to delegate some of his responsibilities to others – Moses is not expected to take responsibility “all alone”!
To think about: Where do you (as an individual or as a faith community) take on more responsibility than is healthy for you or those around you?