The Rev'd Robert Warren
It's been a tough trek. Stress, anger and uncertainty have been the order of the day. Exhausted, Moses checks in with God. Is it alright? ask Moses. Are we still your people? Even with the incident with the golden calf and the non-stop discord on the people's part? Will you continue to lead us God? Moses receives affirmative answers to all these questions. The whole reading is a bit curious. It even appears that God is tired of being angry. Moses proceeds, at this point, to ask a question of his own - one which is important to him alone and seems almost irrelevant to his role as the leader of this sorry band of Hebrews in the Sinai desert:
I want to see you God. "Show me your glory"
The earlier conversation with God is something with which we are all familiar: We lay before God our faults, we lay before him our needs, we struggle to review our situation in such a way (or to change our situation in such a manner) that we can be assured that things are alright. We have some hope for the future. We restore a balance. That is frequently enough. Moses goes further, though. "Show me your glory" he asks.
Is this relevant?
Yes - the knowledge of God is relevant, the enjoyment of God's presence is relevant. It may be the most relevant thing. The Presbyterian/Reformed catechism states that "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever." Our relationships have a way of becoming identified with the responsibilities attached to them. To the man or woman we love, and whose presence we enjoy, we are also husband and wife and bear certain duties and obligations. The children we delight in also need shoes and transport. They grumble in the back seat and argue with their sisters. We rejoice in Christian worship and the presence of our brothers and sisters in the Church but somebody on the vestry needs to tackle the knotty problem of scheduling events and ironing out the finances of the parish.
We might find ourselves, as Moses does in this reading, relatively exhausted by duty and desiring the mere presence of the one we love. That, I think, would be a sign of health. God grants Moses his desire. He places Moses in a cleft in the rock and passes by. Moses gets the glimpse of God's glory that he needs.
We need that cleft in the rock. Where will you find yours? It may need to be consciously searched out. If you look for it you will find it. It is a place where we are simply who we are in the presence of the one we love - that man or woman, those children - that first love. We begin by declaring our hunger for it and reminding ourselves that our chief delight is the presence of the one we love. While such love will always contain the structures of duty and obligation we have a right to feel the heat of the fire and to thrill in the sound of the voice. It is completely proper to desire such things.
Moses does well to ask. There's more to life than a slog through the wilderness.