Bradenton-Sarasota Congregation Online Service
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Our invitation to worship comes from Habakkuk 2:20: “The Lord is in his Holy Temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
As each of us are Temples of God, let us be silent, as we breathe in the Breath of God; His Spirit:
“Breathe on Me Breath of God” sung by the Mountain Anthems
Prayer for peace
For our prayer for peace, please take a moment to empty yourself of all distractions as you listen to the “voice of nature” video and just be with God. Then, continue listening to the “voice of nature” as you read the prayer for peace.
Lead me to your still streams O Lord
Where I can kneel in the waters of life
Lay down my anxious thoughts And cast all my cares on You
Here I will wait a while
Wait a while
And bathe in the life-giving waters
Bathe my mind in Your Spirit O God
Come fill my being with Your peace
Bathe my heart with Your love O God
Come still my being with Your peace
Bathe my spirit with Your freedom O God
Come saturate this life with Your peace.
(Taken from hymn 368, Community of Christ Sings.)
Music – “Let There be Peace on Earth by Let There Be Peace on Earth” – GENTRI and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
With our theme for this morning being “Thirst for the Lord”, our scripture comes from Exodus 17:1-7. [Note: I will be doing some paraphrasing here-Al.]
Now, at God’s command, the people of Israel left the Sihn desert, going by easy stages to Rephidim. But upon arrival, there was no water! So once more the people growled and complained to Moses, “GIVE US WATER” they wailed. “Quiet” Moses commanded. “Are you trying to test God’s patience with you?”
But tormented by thirst they cried out, “Why did you ever take us out of Egypt” [here it seems they wanted to go back to the good old days of slavery!]. They ask Moses, “Why did you bring us here to die with our children and cattle too?” [So, to paraphrase, Moses begged God, “I can’t do any more, I’m exhausted what shall I do? These people are ready to stone me!”]
And so, God, hearing Moses’ plea, tells him to take some elders and go to Mt. Horeb and strike the rock with the same rod he used to part the Red Sea and you will have water.
So Moses does as he was told and, as God promised, water does pour out of the rock, thus giving the Israelites life-saving water. Moses called this place Massah [meaning “tempting Jehovah to slay us.”] But this place was also referred to as “Meribah” which means argument and strife.
So, the people of Israel have their thirst quenched by water and by God.
Music – “I Thirst” by the Cathedrals
Message by Evangelist Al Mount
This scene from our scripture reading takes place just two months after God delivered his chosen people, Israel, out of their bondage in Egypt. They had witnessed the plagues and the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea as God, through Moses, led his chosen people, the Israelites, to freedom.
Initially the people were pretty happy and excited as they escaped slavery in Egypt, but now things are getting tough out there in the hot, dry, dusty desert as they were far from civilization.
As a result, uprisings and protests are happening and beginning to spread; all eyes are on their leader, Moses, as they are blaming him for all their woes even as they look to him for answers (Being a leader is so much fun; Moses is learning that God’s sheep bite!). Poor Moses is only obeying God and for his obedience the people are ready to stone him to death for lack of water.
Up to now much of the complaints were relatively petty but with lack of water, this is more than a complaint, this is a life and death concern (we aren’t talking about burnt toast here). As I (Al) try and put myself in their shoes, I wouldn’t have been any different as I too would fear for the life of my family, the elderly, the babies and those in ill health (not unlike our current Covid situation).
You see, in the hot dry desert wilderness you would not live much more than three days without water (if you’re healthy). Dying of thirst is another way of saying dying of terminal dehydration. First one might experience delirium and altered serum sodium, then lapse into unconsciousness followed by death. Imagine watching your baby, young child or your elderly parents die before your eyes in this fashion while knowing you are next? This is what the Israelites were facing if water wasn’t found and soon! These desert wanderers would have given up everything for life saving water (the most precious commodity of all). Their desperation cannot be overstated.
But, God blessed and took care of the children of Israel as he provided them with life saving water; their concerns were his concerns as he heard and acted in response to their cries. This is still true today. Your concerns are God’s concerns! God hears you and will respond in His way and in His time.
So, I ask myself, what is it that I most desperately thirst for; what is my greatest concern/need? How about each of you, my brothers and sisters? How about us as a congregation of Community of Christ? What is our greatest concern/need?
I’ve been told the first thing that comes to your mind is the answer. What came to your mind first?
Before we come up with our final answer to this question, let’s check out what Jesus says in the gospel of Mathew as he was giving what we call the Sermon on the Mount. Here Jesus tells the crowed, “Blessed are all they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.”
The thirst that Jesus is talking about is the kind of thirst that the Israelites in our scripture were experiencing. Jesus isn’t talking about a hamburger and a Coke here. Jesus is talking about how desperately he wants us to hunger and thirst after Him and what he wants for us and from us as his disciples.
Now, “Blessed” means happiness! Jesus is telling us, then, “Happy you and I will be as we do hunger and thirst for His righteous way of living.”
I like HAPPY! I’ll take all the happiness I can find this year. How about you?
So, what is your one greatest concern/need at this time? For the Israelites it was their desperate need for life giving and saving water. And guess what, God took care of their need. God will do the same for you, me and us as a congregation of Community of Christ!
God is saying to us this morning, “I will take care of you; do not be afraid or worried; I want you to be happy!”
Music- “God Will Take Care of You” by Juan Palomino
Disciples Generous Response
This morning’s offertory scripture comes from II Corinthians 9:6-7:
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Ever man or woman according the purposeth in his or her heart, so let him or her give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
One of the things I miss from our not being able to be physically worship together is our children running and skipping down the aisle with smiles of joy to put their offering the basket in the front of the sanctuary. Can you picture them in your mind without smiling? This is ministry! Let us be as “little children” and give likewise and bring a smile to our Loving Lord’s face.
Please enjoy our closing hymn, “He Didn’t Throw The Clay Away” sung by three lovely young ladies known as “The Foster Triplets”:
May the Spirit of our loving Lord that stirs within you, shape you into His image that you may know the peace, joy and happiness only Christ can give. Amen
This service was prepared by Al and Linda Mount.