Scugog Island United Church
September 27th 2020
Worship Leader: Mr. Robert Bennett (LLWL)
Prelude: music played by Marilyn
Announcements and Welcome
Lighting the Christ Candle (Leader)
Call to Worship:
We come before God in the holiness of this sanctuary, to gaze upon (God’s) strength and glory. God has been our help through all the ages, and within the shadow of (God’s) wings, we will be kept safe. Certainly the love of God is our greatest blessing, and we will return our praise forever more. Let us worship God!
Hymn: GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS (#288)
Gathering Prayer (adapted from VU 645):
God our Creator, Source of Life, Living Water, who quenches our thirst, refreshes our weariness, bathes and washes and cleanses our wounds, be for us always a fountain of life, and for all the world a river of hope springing up in the midst of the deserts of despair. Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being, all Honour and Blessing, glory and praise be to You forever. Amen
Scripture: Exodus 17-1-7 Water From the Rock
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarrelled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink. “ Moses said to them, “ Why do you test the Lord? “ But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “ Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst? “ So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink. Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarrelled and tested the Lord, saying, “ Is the Lord among us or not? “
Here ends the Reading. Let us bow our heads in prayer:
O God, we pray for your words and wisdom to enlighten and to guide us, and for your love to fill us. Help us to build our lives on the foundation laid for us by Christ Jesus, in whose name we gather. Amen
COMPLAIN! COMPLAIN! COMPLAIN!
How common it is to see on the TV or online News people being interviewed who are complaining, even protesting that, in this time of COVID-19, they cannot do as they are used to! Complaining about having to wear a mask, and being asked to abide by social distancing guidelines and other restrictions whose purpose is to keep people safe by preventing the spread of the Coronavirus!
COMPLAIN! COMPLAIN! COMPLAIN!
The Supper is served…lukewarm/cold; the Care Worker is late in arriving to get me ready for bed; can’t get comfortable at night; the guy next door -- who shares the bathroom -- leaves the light on during the night…. And on and on I could go relating to you the Complaining my Dad does on a regular basis regarding daily life at the Retirement Manor he’s called home now for 7 years.
I have to confess that I am very much my father’s son in that regard. I believe it was my Mom who gave to me a fridge magnet featuring a rather grumpy-looking person and this message:
“ Why Shouldn’t I Complain?
It’s The Only Thing I’m Really Good At! “
Thinking back to my Freiburg Year…I recall -- sadly -- that during the two-month Semester Break, none of the 22 other Canadian students invited me to go traveling with them. (To their credit,
some went all over Europe!) The most probable reason for being excluded: I definitely was our Group’s Chief Griper/Complainer!
“…. and the people complained against Moses and said, “ Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst? “
Quoting from a Sermon prepared by United Church minister Richard Fairchild:
The people of Israel, in their wanderings in the desert, continually sought for new proof of God's love. When things did not go their way, when what they wanted did not appear immediately, or in the fashion that they expected, they began to doubt God and accuse Him of not caring for them. The great sin of Meribah and Massah is not the sin of asking that their needs be met by God -- that is not a sin at all, it is something we are encouraged to do, "give us this day our daily bread"-- rather the sin of Meribah and Massah is the sin of unbelief, the sin of doubt and of grumbling against God within that doubt.
Complaining…. isn’t always a bad thing. There is a time to legitimately complain. I do tell my Dad that there is a way to properly complain: be it to Manor Staff or to the Care Workers who come in to take care of him…but, he often complains-- as did the ancient Israelites -- when what he wants is not done in the fashion he expects! Very demanding is my father-- something my sister and I know all too well. And God comes to know all too well how often his children complain, gripe…and doubt God’s presence in their time of Wandering!
Quoting again from the Sermon of Richard Fairchild:
Are we a people like those at Meribah?
Do we quarrel with God and demand from him proof of his love when the going gets a little tough? Is our faith conditional on getting everything we want when we want it? What kind of people are we? Are we grumblers and complainers? Or are we a people who truly believe in the Son of The Living God?
A people who believe that God is with us in Christ - leading us on the way to the promised land - much as he was with Israel in the cloud by day and the fire by night - leading them on the way from bondage in Egypt to the land of milk and honey that he had promised to them.
May we follow these words of a beloved hymn:
“ Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah “! May we be open to the workings of God’s Spirit -- especially during this time of Doubt and ‘ Wandering ‘ through a Global Pandemic!
I’d like to share with you something from The Lectionary Preaching Workbook. I‘ll paraphrase part: “ (the Story of Water from a Rock) does affirm that God watches over us in our travels through life, does care what happens to us, and is accessible to hear our cries for help. Also, God is patient with our complaints and doesn’t turn away from us when we’re griping and complaining. “ I’d like to repeat that last sentence…..
God is Ever-Patient and Ever Sure. God-in-Jesus, as we read in the stories of the Four Gospels, exhibits patience when people around him -- especially his closest disciples – doubt...do not demonstrate strong faith. There are also moments in Jesus’ earthly ministry when Jesus’ words are not…understood. Tying in with today’s Water from the Rock story in the OT book of Exodus…in the Gospel of John are stories that are water-themed. Only in the Fourth Gospel do we read this story: one day, Jesus, in Samaria at the Well of Jacob, asks a Samaritan woman for a drink of water.
A conversation ensues that includes Jesus saying,
“ If you knew the gift of God, and who it is saying to you,
‘ give me a drink,‘ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water. “ Re: the water of the well, Jesus says, “ Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty.
The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life. “ Then further on in the Gospel,
Jesus in Jerusalem for the Jewish Festival of Booths cried
out: “ Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one
who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘ Out of
the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water… “
Especially during this Global Pandemic, rather than complaining, griping… may thanks flow from our hearts: thanks for family and friends, thanks for people who are doing their part to keep things going. Lets do what is required for our safety and the safety of others-- including listening to the info and guidance given to us by persons in medical science-- being vigilant, questioning when necessary. And lets strive to communicate faithfully with God in prayer. Let’s put our faith and trust in God’s promises….
keeping in mind these words in a hymn we are about to hear:
“ Though my weary steps may falter, and my soul a-thirst may be, gushing from the rock before me, lo, a spring of joy I see! “
Thanks be to God for the Bread of Life and Living Water which are ours in Jesus the Risen and Ascended Christ. AMEN
Hymn: ALL THE WAY MY SAVIOUR LEADS ME (#635)
Prayer of Dedication (though no Offering is presented)
Let us bow our heads for Pastoral Prayer. First, before I speak, lets each spend a moment in silent prayer bringing to God what is most pressing in our mind and heart and soul….
Lets now listen to THE LORD’S PRAYER (Recording)
Hymn: GUIDE ME, O THOU GREAT JEHOVAH ( # 651)
Commissioning and Benediction
Go Now in Peace (played by Marilyn)