Called by God
Bradenton-Sarasota Online Worship
August 30, 2020
Call to Worship:
Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing praises; let us give thanks to God’s holy name for the works of righteousness, forever. —Alma 14:88, adapted
Opening meditation: Blessed be Your Name sung by Chris Tomlin
Prayer for Peace:
Creator of the intertwined,
You made each soul unique; each one with ears to hear faith’s call, each one with voice to speak. Each worships where the call is heard – in forest, temple, dome, on mountain top, in upper room – the soul must find a home.
The song of peace best sung by all: strength born of unity. In harmony we celebrate your gift; diversity. Can we not sing each other’s songs? Speak unfamiliar prayer? Rejoicing in the bounty of the differences we share?
In evil’s wake we all are hurt; when pricked all humans bleed. With common wounds and shared despair, we seek the balm we need. We do not ask before we reach to offer our embrace. We do not ask, “How do you pray?” We reach with arms of grace.
Teach us to cherish what is strange and so the richer be; to listen with our hearts and speak with loving honesty. From different sources comfort comes, each seeks for the Divine: your voice speaks may languages, just one of them is mine. – lyrics from Community of Christ Sings #344 “Creator of the Intertwined”
Scripture Reading: Exodus 3:1-15 (NIV) – Moses and the Burning Bush
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.
Message: High Priest Nanette Dizney
On this wonderful end of August day, we have the honor of reviewing a part of the life of Moses. We are not worried about all the theological approaches to Moses, but we are just going to refer to the story that a lot of us heard from our childhood. Moses has floated down a river in a basket, raised as a Hebrew child in the Pharaoh’s home, taken care of by his mother, become involved with the Pharaoh’s court and the Egyptian people, involved in a murderous event, and etc. So he flees.
He flees to Midian where he hides himself and takes on the job of shepherding Jethro’s sheep. We find Moses wandering around in the wilderness in an area the scripture described as “beyond the wilderness”. Think about that for a moment. The desert was where civilization ended and nothingness and emptiness began … and Moses is beyond even the wilderness … suggesting that Moses is as physically and spiritually and emotionally as far out and as alone as he can be. Economically he is tending sheep that belong to his father-in-law Jethro. Again, think about that. Moses has nothing. And if that isn’t irritating enough, everything that he does have, including the sheep that he is tending beyond the wilderness, don’t belong to him. Moses was a fugitive … a wanted man … and he chose a great place to hide from the law and to hide from himself. But the one person he could never hide from was God.
Moses finds himself on Mount Horeb (desert) later known as the “Mountain of God”. He is nowhere near civilization or any religious temple. He has no intentions of a “meet and greet” with God. All of a sudden he sees a bush on fire and heads for it.
The voice from the bush tells him to not come any closer. Then the voice said to take your sandals off your feet because you are standing on holy ground.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I think I might have not wanted to remove my shoes with a fire so close. Moses realizes the bush is burning but not being consumed. He removes his shoes and begins to understand who he is encountering.God then presents Moses with the task of leading his people out of Egypt; that Moses is up to the job and God needs him. After many “excuses” were presented to God about how he was not up to the job, how he had a speech impediment, that there has to be someone better than him, he trusted God to be with him and he set forth to answer the call.
Where have you encountered your burning bushes? Do you then realize you are standing on holy ground? Where might this occur?
You are taking a walk when an idea occurs to you about some changes you need to make in your life.
You are reading a book when something you have read suddenly comes alive for you.
You are busy with the responsibilities of the day when a child asks you to read her a story.
These examples may not seem like religious experiences; maybe everyday holiness. There is something about them, if we are alert, that tells us not to let the moment slip by without giving thanks, or apologizing, or saying I love you to someone, or changing our attitude, or taking a step in a direction we think God may be pushing us, or just appreciating the moment.
In Community of Christ, we have our Enduring Principles (core values). One of these is “All Are Called”. We believe that God graciously gives people gifts and opportunities to do good and to share in God’s purposes. Jesus Christ invites people to follow him by becoming disciples who share his life and ministry. Some disciples are called and ordained to particular priesthood responsibilities and ministries for the sake of the community, the congregation, and the world.
We respond faithfully, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to our best understanding of God’s call.
God equips us when he calls us. He doesn’t send us to crash and burn. God addresses us, invites us, challenges us and empowers to do his mission in the world.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning recalls the burning bush story in this poem:
Earth’s crammed with the heaven
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes-
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries
Disciples’ Generous Response
“Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” Romans 12:13
As you share your mission tithes or if you give regularly through eTithing, use this time to express gratitude for God’s many gifts in your life and to reflect on how we respond faithfully to those blessings. When we understand God’s love and grace are given freely to us, we respond out of gratitude and are liberated to share freely in return.
We cannot be called by God unless we are ready and willing to listen. Will you listen?
“Will You Not Listen?” by Michael Card
This service was prepared by Sherry Lindgren and Nanette Dizney.