35 “It was this Moses whom they rejected when they said, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ and whom God now sent as both ruler and liberator through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 He led them out, having performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up a prophet for you from your own people as he raised me up.’ 38 He is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living oracles to give to us. 39 Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him; instead, they pushed him aside, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make gods for us who will lead the way for us; as for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.’ 41 At that time they made a calf, offered a sacrifice to the idol, and reveled in the works of their hands.
Acts 7 recalls the words of the martyr, Stephen, who tells the story of how God’s people even questioned Moses. For himself, Stephen’s statement was to no avail. He was killed at the hands of an angry crowd. Yet his words remind those who will listen about how Moses was an unlikely leader who “performed wonders and signs….” and still was misperceived. As Stephen recalled, Moses was “also the one whom our ancestors refused to obey.” When Moses went off to pray, the Hebrew people asked Aaron to create an idol for them to worship. The story reminds me of how we turn to idols to be soothed, and how easily we are misled when we are hurting.
While rereading the story of Stephen’s sermon, I am humbled. Perhaps the tragedy of Stephen’s words caution us about how easily we are swayed or fooled. Stephen’s story describes how quick God’s people were to judge and condemn a man. How easily misguided we are when we are disconnected from God! How easy it is to be disconnected in the midst of our modern, broken world!
Stephen’s example calls to stay connected to God, DESPITE our broken and hurting world. He reminds us to stay connected to God through prayer. And his words also remind us of our connection to God’s Son, Jesus. In a hurting and troubled world, we stay focused on Jesus. Even in the last moments of his tormented life, Stephen, like Christ, stayed connected to and open to God, praying to his last breath.
We are likewise called to stay focused on the Lord through prayer at all times. Throughout this Lenten season, may we be aware of a broken world, but stay connected to Christ.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
We are called to stay focused on God through prayer at all times, but sometimes we are fooled or distracted by the brokenness of our world. In our challenged ways, how might we turn to idols to soothe our wounded hearts? In a broken world, how do you see yourself looking past the godly ways of someone’s actions to condemn all of their efforts? How can you simply return to prayer and maintain your connection to God?
Prayer: Gracious God, you know the brokenness of our world. You know our challenges but also our desire to stay close to you. During this Lenten season, help us to stay connected to you in prayer. Help us to simply breathe in and out, remembering that your love guides our hearts and minds. Amen.