September 20, 2020

Fed by God
Bradenton-Sarasota Congregation Online Worship
September 20, 2020

Opening Prayer

God, where will your spirit lead today?
Help me be fully awake and ready to respond.
Grant me courage to risk something new and
become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.

Call to Worship

Music has a way of combining intellect and emotion in various ways. Sometimes the words do not exactly match up with our theology, but the music still moves us. John Lennon’s song, Imagine, speaks of no heaven or earth, but brings an important message; imagine all the people living life in peace. This song, (Ours is A) Simple Faith, by Mustard’s Retreat, moves me in the same way. I hope you find the Lords presence in this music also.

Scripture Exodus 16:2-15

The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your complaining against the LORD. For what are we, that you complain against us?” And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the LORD has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the LORD.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the LORD, for he has heard your complaining.’” And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. The LORD spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’”

In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.

Morning Message by Elder Cliff Danville

What do you think, did the Israelites leave Egypt on their own accord, or were they kicked out discourteously? The Israelites embraced Moses with his fancy words of freedom until Ramses retaliated against them for Moses’ insolence. Moses won their freedom by wearing Ramses down. Ramses never believed in the God of Moses, but He was there through the whole process. The Israelites saw the waters part and fall again upon the Egyptian army. And yet, when they are thirsty and hungry, where is their God? Forgotten. And yet, God persists to shepherd His people.

A couple of weeks ago a question was poised for the “2gether is Better” Zoom meeting; “When has a work of art had an impact on your thinking or perspective?” A work of art could include a painting, drawing, novel, poem, film, mural, sculpture, etc. While listening to the responses, I was drawn to the different ideas that constituted the nature of what was art. There were the usual suspects; paintings, literature, music, nature, plays, statues, and quilting. Among the ideas that I thought were more unique were; a business failure and success, people and their relationships, a name tag on the name tag wall. One thing in common for all the responses was that each person was taken by surprise by the impact of the art. Even as we are drawn or impacted by different forms of art, so we are fed in different ways.

This past week I have been impacted by individual stories of struggle. I was reading about a woman who described herself as a light skin black person. She has been mistaken for being white all her life. She described the pain of hearing jokes and innuendoes and downright racism from friends and colleagues throughout her life. She described keeping silent about her ethnicity, listening, trying to understand where the racism came from, and waiting for the right time to say this is wrong. As she described the struggle to decide now was the time to stop hiding in the shadows, to take a stand, to reveal friends and colleagues about the pain and who she really is. As I read this, I felt God’s presence in her struggle.

Again, I sensed God’s presence reading about a mother who has lost her child to foster care for quite some time. She has lost a large gap of time watching her child grow and develop. It has taken a long time, but she realizes that she needs the medication and therapy that she has refused in the past in order to get better to get her child back from foster care. She was so thankful for the love given to her child by the foster mom. I pray that she will be able to follow through with her commitment to get better, knowing that God is there in the struggle.

My niece ran the Boston Marathon (26 miles) virtually last weekend in her home town of Grosse Ile, MI. Grosse Ile is an island on the Detroit River where it opens up to Lake Erie. It is approximately 10 miles long and 2 miles wide. In the Grosse Ile Connect, a local news and information board, on the morning of her run she had over 400 likes and over 100 comments encouraging her. She routed her run to go past all her friends’ homes. She had half a dozen runners and bicyclers with her the entire run to encourage her. However, none of the runners or cyclers went the entire way. One or two would drop out. One or two would join. Wendy and I rode for 10 miles with her. There were signs put up to encourage her all along the route. The police and fire department stopped traffic for her. God was there feeding her, and me too.

A friend commented to my Facebook on my birthday and wished for me abundant blessing in the coming year. I responded that if we but have the eyes to see and the hearts to accept, God’s blessings are all around us. How are you being fed? Sometimes it can come as a surprise. Perhaps we could be fed more regularly if were more intentional in seeking God’s presence in ways that speak to us, be it scripture, study, music, meditation, nature, relationships with the people in around us… or the imagination of art.

We are not left alone. Many of us struggle with feelings of isolation or depression caused by trying to stay safe in the time of Covid-19. Many of us struggle with health issues, or with family issues, or a myriad of problems. Like the Israelites coming out of Egypt, it is easy for us to believe and feel God’s presence when life is good. And, like the Israelites, we are tested, or a maybe a better word is challenged, to be in the presence of God when we are in the struggles of life.

Prayer for Peace

This song, White Dove Fly High, by Casting Crowns, was written by a Korean songwriter. Casting Crowns performed this in North Korea at the Spring Friendship Art Festival in 2007.

Closing Prayer

Thank you for your loving presence in our lives. We are fed and nourished by your Spirit. May your Spirit always be with us. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

This service was prepared by Wendy and Cliff Danville.