Pick an action figure—any action figure. Can it love you? Can it give you a hug? Can it make you feel better when you are sad?
The people Exodus 32 lost sight of God. Moses, their leader, had gone off to visit God and they were left alone. They couldn’t see God anymore. Before they left Egypt they saw signs of God in the plagues. They followed God out of Egypt by following a pillar of fire and smoke. Now God seems to have gone and they are alone in the wilderness.
All they seem to have left of value is the gold and wealth that they carried out of Egypt. They have nothing left to lose. They want something that will make them feel better and less alone. They really miss God’s presence so they try to make God tangible by using what thy have left. They take the wealth that they have and transform it into something that reminds them of God’s presence. The translations of this passage are uncertain. Some scholars think that they were trying to create an image of the God they already know as a way of focusing their attention or creating a centre point to draw the community around. We do the same thing when we build big churches with stained glass and pipe organs. The intent is not to create something to replace God but something that represents or reflects God and acts as a rallying point for God’s people.
The wealth that the people carry out of Egypt provides the resources they need to create something that draws the people together. In the same way, the people who built the St. Andrew’s building and contribute to its upkeep and various renovations have done so as a way of enhancing the community’s ability to worship and serve God. We always need to keep in perspective that neither the money that allows us to maintain this building nor the building itself replaces God.
The people in the wilderness got themselves in trouble—not because they created the golden calf—but because they worshiped and sacrificed for it. They were no longer worshiping God and sacrificing for God. They lost sight of God again.
We get ourselves into trouble when we hoard our money or possessions or when our church building becomes more important than our worship and service to God. Its all about keeping things in perspective. Money on its own isn’t a bad thing. Having a big ornate building isn’t a bad thing. Worshiping and serving these instead of God is a type of sin that harms ourselves and our community.
That’s part of why we do stewardship every fall. It helps us to put things in perspective. It’s a chance to re-evaluate our priorities. Are we worshiping and serving God as individuals and as a congregation or are there things we need to do that allow us to be more faithful? Are we worshiping
our resources and the things we create from them or are we using those resources to serve God?
Our money and our building don’t love us back no matter how much energy and time we put into them. The people around us offer love and companionship on life’s journey as we seek to follow God faithfully. When we serve and love each other, we serve and love God. May we seek those opportunities to worship and serve the love of God.