Baccalaureate Sermon – Exodus 3:1-12, Acts 1:15-17,21-26

Exodus 3:1-12

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

Moses…was a murderer.  You might not remember that part of his story, but it’s true.  In fact, it is one of the first things we learn about him in the book of Exodus.  Back in chapter 2, one day, Moses is out wandering around when he stumbles upon an Egyptian beating up a Hebrew slave.  Though he didn’t know it, Moses too was a Hebrew and in seeing this person being mistreated, something snapped.  He peaked over both shoulders, and when the coast was clear, he killed the Egyptian.

It is not part of the story that most of us a familiar with. But I think it is crucial.  Most of us are more familiar with the story we just heard from Pastor Matt– where God speaks to Moses through a burning bush.  It is a great story in which Moses is given a purpose and a calling in his life.

One day, just like every other day, Moses is out tending to the sheep, when all of sudden, out of nowhere, woooosh, this bush just bursts into flames and starts talking to him, “Moses….Moses, come here.  I’ve got something for you to do.  My people, and your people, are living in misery in Egypt. They’ve been crying out to me and I can hear in their voice the suffering they are going through.  So, guess what? I am sending you in to rescue them.”  And you know what?  Moses couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe that God would chose him to rescue the Israelites from Egypt, let alone the fact that God would be speaking to him right there through a burning bush.  But God reassured him, “Don’t worry, don’t worry.  I’ll be with you the whole time.”

Now that is an incredible story.  As many of you know, Moses goes on to confront the Pharaoh and lead his people out of the land by parting the sea. A classic story that is worth telling over and over again by itself.  But if you know Moses checkered past, it’s an even better story.  Because it is one thing for God to call upon Moses to save God’s people.  It is whole other thing for God to call upon Moses the murderer to save God’s people.  I mean, who does that?  Businesses these days require a background check before hiring someone and you can be certain that being a top tier criminal does not help you.  But apparently God works with a different set of rules.  Apparently, God works with just about anyone in order to do incredible things.

But the truth of the matter is that most of us probably aren’t going to be doing incredible things like the Moses’ of the world.  Most of us won’t be famous for thousands of years.  We won’t be a main character in one of the most popular books in the world. And we probably won’t be responsible for freeing a whole people from an oppressive country.  It’s just not likely to happen.

My wife Lauren often tells a story about when she graduated from college. She felt like she was on top of the world.  She felt empowered and determined.  The reason?  Because when leaving college, she was told, “You will change the world.”  You can be anything you want to be and you will change the world, they said.  But then about 6 months later, it just didn’t feel like it.  She was working a part-time job at Pier One and a part-time receptionist job.  She knew it mattered that she showed up and did her best work, but she just didn’t feel like she was…changing the world.  It felt more like getting-by than creating change, you know?

When people tell us that we are going to change the world, we think we will be the ones who do these great big and amazing things.  We will be like Moses!  But then we just…aren’t. Really, we tend to be more like Matthias.

Chances are, even if you were listening to Pastor Charlie read the story from Acts, you don’t have a clue who Matthias is.  Because really, there isn’t much to know.  The story of Matthias can be summed up like this:  Jesus went to heaven.  Judas died. And now there was an opening in the Disciples Department.  There’s a guy named Joseph and a guy named Matthias.  The disciple’s roll some dice and Matthias wins gig.

That’s it.  That’s all the Bible has to say about Matthias.  As one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, he gets one mention in the Bible and this was it.  He’s like one of the first people Jesus would friend on Facebook but nobody knows who he is.  Nobody knows what he did, or where he went.  Matthias is the disciples that no one knows.

And yet, he was a disciple. He was with Jesus from the beginning and in the long run, some of us probably wouldn’t be sitting here in a church if it weren’t for Matthias the nobody.

To those of you graduating this weekend, I’ll be honest, I don’t know most of you.  I have no clue where you are going and what’s next for you.  Some of you might have the next four years of your life already planned out, and some of you might not know what you are doing next week, let alone in the fall.  But what I do know is that from the looks of these two stories, God will use just about anyone in order to care for this world.  A murderer like Moses and a nobody like Matthias. What many graduates like you are never told is that God will use you to change the world, but that God will do it in all sorts of ways.  And most of them aren’t that flashy or famous.  Right now, someone we don’t know, and will likely never know, has his arm around his dad while sitting at grandpa’s funeral.  Right now, someone we don’t know is working an extra shift at Wal-Mart just so she can buy her son a birthday gift.  Right now, someone we don’t know is reading to their child before bed.  These things change the world. You just don’t hear about most of them.  It doesn’t matter who someone is or what they’ve done, God can use them for the sake of the world.  God’s only requirement is a beating heart.  Go ahead, put your hand over your chest.  Can you feel something thumping around in there?  Then God will use you to love and care for this world.

Throughout your life, like it was for Moses, God will call out your name (Julia, David, Tyler, McKayla, Kelsey) or whatever your name is and say, “Come here, I’ve got something for you to do.”   God will use you in ways that are extraordinary and worthy of the front-page news.  And God will use you in ways that are mundane, and ordinary, and unknown to the rest of the world. Because, believe it or not, Jesus says that you are light of the world.  You are the salt of the earth.  Which means the world needs you.  We need you.  It is quite a responsibility, but do not fear.  Because remember God says one more thing to Moses and one more thing to you…”I will be with you the whole time.”

Blessings to all of you on your road ahead. Amen.

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3 comments on “Baccalaureate Sermon – Exodus 3:1-12, Acts 1:15-17,21-26

  1. Jafabrit says:

    Can you please remove my art painting. I would really appreciate it. My work is being downloaded and used by companies and individuals for profit, without my permission and I am not getting paid. In other words I am getting ripped off big tim. To read about my story, you can visit my blog jafabrit. blogspot.com

  2. Jafabrit says:

    Thank you 🙂

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