Bradenton-Sarasota Congregation Online Service
October 11, 2020
Call to Worship: Psalm 106:1-3 adapted:
Praise the Lord!
O give thanks to the Lord, for the Lord is good; with steadfast love that endures forever.
Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord, or declare all praise?
Happy are those who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times.
Hymn of Unity and Peace: “Many Gifts One Spirit” by the Hallelujah Singers
God it seems like now, more than ever, we need, healing, and hope, and peace, and indeed, transformation! As we worship now and listen to hymns, and read words of wisdom, we confess our impatience with life sometimes. Open our hearts to hear you; that we may fully and joyfully serve you. Amen.
Scripture: Exodus 32:1-14
When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses, who brought us out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”
But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’”
Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
Morning Message – “Confess Our Impatience” by Elder Stuart Skene
Impatience! Who among us has never experienced impatience? Fortunately, I myself (Stu), have rarely experienced it, but I have certainly seen it. Such as, when I am first in line in a left turn lane, waiting for a green arrow. It seems that the people behind me want to honk their horns. They are quite impatient, not giving me the time to tune my radio or read my texts. The nerve of them! Then there’s fast food drive-thru’s. I’m one who likes to read the entire menu thoroughly so I can make a wise and healthy choice on my fast-food order. Ok, (I hope you guessed it!) That was not me (Stu). But I’m quite sure we have all felt the twinge of impatience in little moments like these.
Most of us have experienced or seen impatience in one form or another. It has, perhaps, been around since the dawn of mankind, or at least since the time of Noah and the ark. Do you think Noah’s people (and animals) may have felt a bit of impatience in their quest to find dry land? We see in today’s Scripture from Exodus, the Israelites were fast losing patience with Moses because he had not returned from Mt Sinai in a timely manner as they had expected him to. (expectations!) They lost their faith, became rebellious, and broke their covenant with God.
In the story of Abraham and Sarah, God promised Abraham that he would have descendants as numerous as the stars. This was despite the fact that Abraham and his wife Sarah were unable to have children when they were younger and were too old to have children at the time of God’s promise. Was it impatience that prompted Sarah to suggest to Abraham to take her handmaiden, Hagar, to have a child – Ishmael? It was not until many years later that the promise was fulfilled by the birth of Isaac when Sarah was 99 and Abraham was 100.
Because Isaac was the child of promise, not Ishmael, it caused strife in the household because the inheritance of Abraham went to Isaac. The fallout from this decision continues to this day through the descendants of Ishmael (Arabs) and the descendants of Isaac (Jews) as they continue to fight over who should own land in the area of Palestine.
Job was probably known the most as a person of patience in the Bible. In fact, the saying “the patience of Job” is commonly referred to in some circles when talking about someone with patience. Throughout his life Job endured many trials and hardships yet remained faithful to God and God blessed him for his faithfulness and patience.
Patience really does entail suffering on some level. However, when we continue to seek God’s intervention in the matter instead of our own, He blesses us and shows us how He uses it to our good and to His purposes.
Take a moment and think about how we live our lives and those we interact with daily. These interactions are small moments – tiny, seemingly insignificant, seconds of our lives. They have no weight to them by themselves, no purpose, no real meaning, yet they have significant power. These small moments all add up to the bigger picture of what life is, creating opportunities and experiences that are missed or abused by the hurried and impatient. For one cab driver, his decision to take a moment to slow down (and maybe take a deep breath) changed everything for one woman. This is a story of patience and caring. A NYC taxi driver wrote:
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes, I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked… ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it. Like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ She said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her… ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’
‘Oh, you’re such a good boy’ she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’
‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly…
‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry, I’m on my way to a hospice. I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice… ‘The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. ‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’. We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse. ‘Nothing,” I said.
‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.
‘There are other passengers,’ I responded. Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. ‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said, ‘Thank you.’
I squeezed her hand and then walked into the dim morning light… Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
Thinking back, I believe that was one of the finest experiences in my life. We are conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may have considered a small one.
There are rewards for not allowing impatience to overcome us. For the Israelites it was Moses’ intercession with God to keep God from destroying them. For Abraham and Sarah – a child. For Noah – dry land. For the Taxi driver it was the blessings he received as well as for the blessings he bestowed by just being patient.
What might it be for you and for me? God did not promise us an easy path. We have been called to take the journey and remain faithful even during difficult times. Sometimes this means exercising much patience when circumstances do not unfold as we expect. Fear and uncertainty (and impatience) often cause communities to act in unfaithful ways. When times are tough, we must work to individually and collectively stay centered on God’s vision for the world.
And so, to this end, my prayer for you and for me, is for patience, and guidance, and mercy. Amen.
Responsive Prayer of Confession, adapted from Psalm 106:6, 19-22:
Gracious God, both we and our ancestors have sinned;
(Respond with) Lord, we too are guilty.
They made a calf at Horeb and worshiped a cast image.
Lord, we too are guilty.
They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.
Lord, we too are guilty.
They forgot God, who had done great things in Egypt, wondrous works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
Lord, we too are guilty.
Forgive us, Lord, we pray. Amen.
Disciples Generous Response:
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.
Closing Meditation: “Praise You in this Storm” by Casting Crowns
Sending Forth: Doctrine and Covenants 162:3a-b
“Do not be discouraged. You have not been promised an easy path, but you have been assured that the Spirit that calls you will also accompany you. That Spirit is even now touching alive the souls of those who feel the passion of discipleship burning deeply within. Many others will respond if you are persistent in your witness and diligent in your mission to the world.”
This service was prepared by Nancy and Stu Skene.