Have you ever noticed in the church that we often give people things to do, but we spend very little time talking about why we do them, or why we do them a certain way. If there is something that I can easily just send an email about asking someone to do something, I am more likely to do that instead of having them to come and meet with me to talk about the theory or the meaning behind what I need them to do, to talk about the different snags they might hit along the way so that they will be prepared for them and maybe to talk beyond what it exactly it was that I originally asked them to do empowering them to be creative in their work for the church.
This story from the 18th chapter of Exodus tells us that after Moses chose all of these men who would help him with this work, that he gathered them together and taught them what he knew and how to judge over the people. I would have loved to have been there for that training event: Moses sharing what God had told him, talking through different situations or cases that might be brought before them, exploring together how they would interpret the laws of God so that they each had a solid foothold in the mind of God, but that they also had the confidence and empowerment to know that they were called to be creative in their interpretation and application of the law. They were sent out to do their work, but they took with them a shared vision of who God wanted them to be.
It is certainly the hope that at the end of this stepping stones process that more of us will be out in the world living out God’s mission in this place but the goal as well is to come to a shared vision of what we are to be doing and who we are to be in this place.
The sharing of that vision will only come if we are willing to put in the time it takes to create it, to talk about it with one another, to think creatively about what it is we are doing in this place and how more of us can be engaged in doing it.
Moses could have gathered these men together and told them to just use their common sense in judging over the people, but if that was the only resource or guidance that they needed, what was the point of identifying themselves as the chosen people of Yahweh. It was not their common sense that they needed to rely upon but rather a sense of God and a sense of what it means to be the people of God together.
That is what we are doing together in this process. Not just sitting around and hoping that one of us hears the voice of God at some undefined point, but that we will gather together and talk about who we know God to be, who we have been in this place already and how we can better reflect on God’s mission and live here as recognizable people of God, with each one of us taking on the responsibility for this work, with each of us sharing a vision and sharing the load. And we will know when we are doing it the right way when our backs start to hurt.