Sermon: March 15, 2020
Updated: Mar 18, 2020
Most folks agree this is fairly uncharted territory in which we find ourselves right now. Since we will not be meeting over the next two weeks, I thought it would be helpful to be in touch a little more frequently to foster community among us. I welcome your responses as you wish. Also, if you learn that someone is not receiving this and wishes to by email, please let me know their email address. Or is you know someone who would like to receive a hard copy, we can arrange that also. Also, if you'd rather not get occasional messages from me, that is fine, just let me know, I'd like this to be helpful, not annoying. As always if you become aware of anyone who is hospitalized, please let me know so I can visit. Also, please do not hesitate to call me or email me for any reason at all, even "just to talk." Since we will not be having our usual activities, I have time! I always have time, but perhaps a little extra these days. One of my goals is for a small group of leaders to figure out together is how to livestream a simplified version of our service or have a downloadable video of worship with a few of our leaders involved. If you have some expertise in this area and are able to help pull that together, please be in touch with me. Who knows, maybe this is the beginning of something new! The readings for my sermon below are Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-11, and John 4:5-42:
Think of a time you were really thirsty. My thirstiest memory is a tie. One memory is how I always felt coming in from a warm half hour of recess in elementary school only to get 10 or so seconds at the water fountain. The other memory is when I was 7 and our week vacation at Babcock State Park, West Virginia included a day long hike and we ran out of water toward the end. I'm sure it wasn't that bad, but I thought I was going to die, and I was tired too. And I'm sure it was pleasant for my parents too. . .The Israelites have run out of water in the desert and are ready to revolt against Moses. Moses turns to God. How is he supposed to give them water in the middle of the desert? He prays, A little help over here, God. . .please! God's response, Take the elders and your Nile-striking staff, and go to the rock of Horeb. I will be standing there before the rock. Strike it and water will pour out so the people can drink. And so it came to pass.In the times I've read this passage, I don't recall noticing God's promise to stand before the rock. God is present. Moses is invited to trust that God's with us! I will bring the promised water. As he strikes the rock, Moses is demonstrating God with us! And there is water. As with Moses and Israel, God is standing before us, now. We forget that God is standing before us. Perhaps we feel the absence of God. Or at other times we get excited that we are going to make the difference. We are going to make this God thing happen. Our passion for God's will can be great, but where is God's presence when we are doing all the work? Where is our trust in God? Perhaps trust means waiting with an open spirit? Waiting for this empty moment to be filled with God's Presence? When we are aware that God is with us, standing before us, we can step aside from making things happen by our own strength or despairing that God is not making things happen, and we can watch God do God's thing. Emptiness filling with Presence. How is God present for you today, in this unprecedented, new moment? God is standing with us.Finally, Romans 5 reminds us that God is not an angry God who enjoys punishing, but God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. This is shocking, if we hear it for the first time. Our brokenness and failures do not stop God from loving us and being present to us, with us, and for us. Christ's willing death and glorious resurrection remind us that life conquers death, love overcomes greed and violence, and mercy triumphs over judgment. God's love is a fierce presence of hope and new life. Water gushing from the rock. God is present for you and me and our congregation in this moment in time for life and faithful love. We might not always see God as we wish, but God is here, and that is all we need.My prayers are with you even as I know you all are praying for each other and me. I believe this can be a time of growth for all of us as we wait as a nation (and globe) to see how the next few weeks progress. We are here for each other and no one need be alone. I continue to be encouraged and challenged in very good ways by Quickel Church and your passion for your faith. Right now I am encouraged by this whole nation's willingness to slow down and create space to slow the spread of covid-19 so that those who become particularly ill can be taken care of with the highest levels of care. I do not believe it is fear that drives us to suspend larger group activities for now, but courage and love for the least and the weakest among us, despite the (I trust temporary) economic price we will have to pay. May we be remembering in prayer both those who are ill and those who are facing difficult financial setbacks because of temporary unemployment. I trust we will be alert for ways we can help our neighbors. God is present drawing us together in unity. Peace to you all.