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"After Sunday worship I feel refreshed and ready to start a new week. Worship calms me and makes me want toW be a more giving and forgiving person."

 

 "I am here to share my soul, body, and mind with our bigger family who shares our worship to God and the entire universe.  This is my worship experience at church."

 

Worship at FCC Essex follows a traditional liturgy, but God still speaks to the world today from these ancient words and rituals as if they were new.  Music and spirit and art and words and silence center us and inform us.  Our style of worship brings comfort, soothes the spirit, challenges the mind, strengthens our love of each other, and empowers us for doing good in the world.

 

At The First Congregational Church in Essex, we offer a diverse schedule of worship opportunities on Sunday and at other times in the week.  Check the home page and calendar for all we have to offer.

 

Other special services of worship are celebrated throughout the year during Advent (Christmas) and Lent, as well as ecumenical events with other churches in Essex and within the UCC.

 

 

 

September 24, 2017

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

 

Exodus 16:2-15 Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45
Philippians 1:21-30
Matthew 20:1-16

 

When God met Moses up on that mountain and gave him his assignment to bring the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, Moses (perhaps gingerly) asked for God's name: just who, might he say, sent him on such a bold mission? While God's response is translated in various and interesting ways, most often as "I Am Who Am," one version is particularly fitting for our story today: "I will be who I will be."

Someone has also rendered this as "I will be what is needed at the time." The wilderness in today's passage provides a perfect setting for God to be exactly that: just what the people need at that moment in time.

But first, Gerald Janzen, in his Westminster Bible Companion commentary on Exodus, provides a bit of "back story" about the development of the faith of the Israelites from the first book of the Bible to the second: their ancestors in Genesis had worshipped God as El Shaddai, the source of the blessings of fertility--fields for planting, pasture for flocks, children for the future (and the work of the present)--a fertility that provided food to sustain them. That's what they needed at the time, and it was, understandably, the most pressing issue on their minds.

Hearing the groans of the people

By Moses' time, as we know from our recent weeks' readings, the most pressing issue for the Israelites was the slavery that held them in bondage to Pharaoh, and as they groaned in their suffering, they prayed to God for release. By the time of Moses, God claimed the name "Yahweh," heard the people's groaning and their prayers, and did indeed free them from the mighty empire of Egypt.

Unfortunately, this freedom led them directly into the wilderness, not directly into the Land of Milk and Honey. (Wouldn't that have been nice? But then where would the lessons be?) So once again, now that Pharaoh and his chariots are floating on or below the Red Sea, the most pressing issue for the Israelites is hunger, and this wilderness doesn't look very likely to solve that problem.

Here, Janzen writes, "a warrior God seems of little relevance, and Yahweh ('I will be who/what I will be') needs to be present and active in the old character of El Shaddai" (Exodus, Westminster Bible Companion). What the people needed from God at that moment was food.



Read this entire reflection here.


To see a sermon, click here