As I am sure you have heard, our worship and ministries are going fully online for the foreseeable future. This is for the health and safety of our people, their people, and God’s people. Which means that while we won’t see each other in person we will still be in worship together! There are a number of ways that you can tune in to watch with us online. I know many of you already worship with us online but if this is your first time here are the places that we stream live; The Park’s website, Facebook, Twitter and Zoom. Children’s worship will also be by zoom. The rule from Matthew 18 is, “where two or three are gathered in my name,” and we will surely gather in Jesus’s name online this Sunday.
This week has surely been one of anxiety for us all. The unknown is always a lot to take on both individually and collectively. Which is why this week’s text is so helpful. Read through this story from Exodus, a story of the Israelites wandering in search of security, home, and a certainty with God. Sound familiar? I know this resonates with me often. But read through it three times. The first time read it as an Israelite. The second time read it as Moses. The third time read it as God. Let the words and the emotions that come up from each individual character sit with you.
Again, they turned on Moses, saying, “Give us drinking water.”
Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test Your God?”
But the people were thirsty and complained even more to Moses. “Why did you bring us out of Egypt only to make us and our children and our livestock die of thirst?”
Moses appealed to God. “What am I to do with these people? They are ready to stone me!”
God answered Moses, “Take some of the elders and move to the front of the people. Take with you the staff with which you struck the Nile. Go! I will wait for you there by the rock of Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.”
And Moses did so, in the sight the elders.
Moses named the place Massah, “Testing,” and Meribah, “Quarreling,” for the Israelites tested God when they said, “Is our God with us or not?” (Exodus 17:2-7)
I don’t know about you, but I had a lot of different emotions when reading this passage. However, there was one emotion that showed up in all three readings for me- frustration. I heard the frustration of the Israelites who just want to rest. I felt the frustration of Moses who was caught as the in-between. The one who knew both sides but couldn’t quite get the words to lead the Israelites well or with the confidence that would assuage their anxieties. And I for sure felt the rumbling of frustration when I read as God. God has been loving and faithful and here is still a world that questions God. It’s all so frustrating!
But then I take a deep breath and remind myself that although these times seem similar, I have the assurance of hindsight. I know how the story of exodus ends. I know Moses’s life journey as shown through the scriptures. And I have the whole cannon of scripture that reminds me that even though I may be frustrated for God, God is big enough to handle all of our emotions- our testing and our quarreling- and still love us with infinite grace. We have the gift of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ so that when we feel like the Israelites and ask, “is our God with us?” we know that the answer is “yes” and “always.”
Friends, staying 6ft apart is hard to do when we are called to be relational. But God is with us in all spaces we gather be it in person or online. So, stay healthy and safe, wash your hands, and let’s continue to be God’s beloved community in all spaces we inhabit. See you online Sunday.
A quick prayer for your week: God, I know you are with me. Amen
On Sunday March 8th, in Sunday school, we read the Book of Esther. We talked about Esther’s intelligence, courage, and kindness, as she worked to save her people; how using one’s power, with love, is true nobility. For our creative response, we made royal crowns and jewelry to wear, so that we could look sparkly and fierce, like Queen Esther.
On Sunday March 15th (and subsequent Sundays, until further notice) children’s ministry will be done online, as the adults’ worship service will be. We will be taking two approaches to online Sunday school, in order to make it accessible to as many children as possible. First, I will do a pre-recorded children’s liturgy and lesson, to be watched on the Park website at any time. I will also be conducting a real-time liturgy and lesson on Sundays, using Zoom Meeting software. Parents have already received an email invitation with a link to that.
Because activities need to be different, for online Sunday school, than they would be if we were all in the same room, I will be revising Sunday school lesson/activity plans, in order to work well in that format. Stay tuned...
And stay safe. Stay healthy. And hopeful. And prayerful. I will strive to do likewise.
Blessings and well wishes as always,
Rev. Francesca Maria (Miriam): Children’s Minister