Sunday Worship: Morning Prayer March 15, 2020

Sunday Worship: Morning Prayer March 15, 2020


Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Good Morning! As we gather for worship
I encourage you to light your own candle wherever you are. [match strike] And if you have a moment, take a picture of your candle and post it in the comments or
e-mail it to me [email protected], and I’ll compile a picture of all the places
where St. Michael worship is happening today. O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. Glory to the Father,
and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and will be forever. Amen. A reading from Psalm 95 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice. Let us pray. O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted,
grant courage and hope. Where anxiety is infectious and widening,
grant peace and reassurance. Where impossibilities close every door and
window, grant imagination and resistance. Where distrust twists our thinking, grant
healing and illumination. Where spirits are daunted and weakened, grant
soaring wings and strengthened dreams. All these things we ask in the name of Jesus
Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen. Fear not. Fear not. For I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be
with you; through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, you shall not
be burned and the flames shall not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God. I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One, your
Savior. Fear not. Fear not. Fear not. Fear not. For I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. When you pass through the waters, (When you
pass through the waters) I will be with you (I will be with you); through the rivers (through
the rivers), they shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire (When you walk
through fire), you shall not be burned (you shall not be burned) and the flames (and the
flames) shall not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God. I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One, your
Savior. Fear not. Fear not. For I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. You are mine. A reading from Exodus, chapter 17, verses
1-7. 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 quarrel
with me? 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?’ A reading from the fifth chapter of Romans. Therefore, having been justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access
to faith and to this grace in which we stand; and rejoice in hope the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in
tribulations, knowing that tribulations produce perseverance, and perseverance, character,
and character, hope, now hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has
been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time
time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will someone die—though perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in that while
we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, have now been
justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled
to God through the death of his Son, saved by his life, And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through
our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now receive the reconciliation. The word of the Lord. The end of the story from Exodus says that
the Israelites called the place where they received the water “Quarrel” and “Test,” because
they said “Is the Lord among us or not?” It’s pretty obvious that this is a question
that’s so very real for us, too. Is the Lord among us or not? As the Israelites are wandering in the desert,
there is no water, and they are thirsty. They set up a question, a test, a murmuring,
but really these are courtroom words. They bring an allegation against God: are
you here? Are you helping us? Or did you just bring us out into the desert
to die? And, at the heart of a lot of this interaction
is, what kind of proof, what is going to persuade a thirsty, frightened people that God is actually
with them? Right? It’s amazing, I mean, like, they had all this
evidence. They saw the plagues, the Passover, the dividing
of the sea, the pillar of fire and the pillar cloud that led them night and day, and they
still have a quarrel with God. Which, on the one hand, sometimes when you’re
reading through Exodus, and Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, which is that, kind of, those
are the four books that really incorporate the Israelites’ wandering in the wilderness,
gets a little frustrating to see God continually meet their needs and then them whine. But it doesn’t take a whole lot of self-examination
to realize, like, that’s what my life is like, too. Right? I trust – I seem to have no problem “trusting”
God when everything is going well, but when things become difficult, then it’s like, where
are you? Where have you been? Have you even been here all along? It’s not, um, uncommon. And so, it’s a question for us, too. Like, what will provide us when we are frightened
or discouraged? What will persuade us that God is with us? That God loves us? And that God leads us? It’s interesting that as the scene is heating
up, God tells Moses to go through the people, who are really upset with him – nothing like
walking the gauntlet – and then to go, stand on the rock. And, God says, “I will be standing there before
you.” Now, when the Rabbis deal with this text,
one of the things that they say is that “This text implies, in every place where a man leaves
his footprint, there God, too, will stand.” It’s a powerful witness, the idea that anywhere
that you go, God goes before you. I don’t know that I always trust that, and
yet, sometimes, it’s a better understood in hindsight kind of situation. That when we look back, then we realize that
God was – not just there all along – but, God led us through. You know, that God was there before us, is
there long after us, um, and loved us in the midst of it. It’s a hard thing to trust, it is certainly
the kind of muscles that we flex when we are feeling faithful and secure, in order to be
able to rely on them when we’re not. So, finally, you know, like I pointed out
at the beginning, they didn’t call this place “God struck the rock and, er, Moses struck
the rock and water came out.” They didn’t call it, “Say God provided in
abundance.” They didn’t say “Water flowed.” They called this place, “Quarrel” and “Test.” Theologian Debie Thomas says, “I find it consoling
that even this dark spot on the Israelite’s spiritual map has a place in the foundational
texts of our faith.” Isn’t that true? Like, the Bible isn’t about people who believed
perfectly. The Bible is about people who believed really. You know, the sense that there’s someplace
we could go where God hasn’t already been is, um, is kind of preposterous. God has been there. God will be there. I mean, that’s the fundamental truth about
the cross. Is that, you know, here we have this horror
that is death by crucifixion and if God has gone there, then God has gone everywhere. God is with you in your hardship, and God
is in the hardships that we see in the world today. Not just this pandemic, but starvation, and
warfare. That God is there, attempting to do exactly
what God did at Meribah and Massah: strike the rock provide for the needs of God’s people. The challenge, beloved, is awfully real this
week, isn’t it? It isn’t to be perfect at social distancing
and quarantine and all that. It’s not to not complain. By all means, this is gonna be rough on all
of us. It’s okay to whine and complain a little bit
– it was Moses who was irritated here, not God. This is gonna be rough. It’s not a challenge to be perfect, right? C.S. Lewis says that “God doesn’t want something
from us. God simply wants us.” So the challenge isn’t to be perfect. It’s not to not complain. The challenge is to trust that God is here,
too. I hope that you’ll be here with me throughout
all this, we have some good things coming up for you – a Bible study, Morning Prayer,
a chance to come together, um, through whatever virtual means we have. Um, but also know that no matter where you
are, I hold you in prayer. Um, that I’m here, if you need to talk. Um, if your kids are driving you crazy; if
your spouse is driving you crazy; if the loneliness is driving you crazy. We’re here for one another. Um, be strong and courageous. As Joshua tells the Israelites: “Be strong
and courageous. Do not be terrified or discouraged, for the
Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Amen. This is a reading from the gospel according
to Luke, the first chapter, verse 68-79. ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in
the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from
of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our
ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without
fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet
of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge
of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from
on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow
of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’ For our prayers today, each petition will
end with an extended period of silence. Use this time however you see fit. You can type a prayer request in the comments
below. Or you can pray with the people who are gathered
with you. Or – like me – given how crazy the rest of
the day is likely to be, just enjoy the time to be still in the presence of God. The Lord be with you. And let us pray. Mighty God of mercy, we thank you for the
resurrection dawn, bringing the glory of our risen Lord who makes every day new. Especially we thank you—
for the sustaining goodness of your creation for the new creation in Christ and all gifts of healing and forgiveness for the gifts of relationship with others for the communion of faith in your church Merciful God of might, renew this weary world,
heal the hurts of all your children, and bring about your peace for all in Christ Jesus,
the living Lord. Especially we pray—
for those who govern nations of the world For the people in countries ravaged by strife or warfare for all who work for peace and international harmony for all who strive to save the earth from carelessness and destruction for those affected by the pandemic for decision-makers and health care workers for the church of Jesus Christ in every land We give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through
Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected us from sin and all evil, so that our life and actions may please you. Into your hands we commend ourselves: our
bodies, our souls, and all that is ours. Let your holy angels be with us, so that the
wicked foe may have no power over us. Amen. Lord, remember us in your kingdom and teach
us to pray: Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come,
thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those
who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen. Now, may Almighty God, the Father, the Son,
and the Holy Spirit, be with you now and forever. Amen.

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *