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"After Sunday worship I feel refreshed and ready to start a new week. Worship calms me and makes me want to 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.

We worship at 10:00 am.

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.

 

 

March 24, 2019

Third Sunday in Lent

 

Isaiah 55:1-9
Psalm 63:1-8
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Luke 13:1-9

Reflection on Isaiah 55:1-9
by Kathryn Matthews

Prophets are poets, really, which might explain why they are such great theologians. Today's reading, or better, today's poem from the prophet-poet Isaiah offers us in nine short verses what might be described as the heart of the biblical message: God loves us, no matter what, and reaches out to us even (or especially) in the worst of times, making promises that are not just pie-in-the-sky, not just theoretical.

God promises the things that we most yearn for, deep down in our hearts, the very basics of life: homecoming when we're lost or far away, a rich feast when we're hungry, flowing fresh water to satisfy our thirst, and a community of hope when we long for meaning in our lives – something greater than ourselves, in which and through which we might be a blessing to the whole world.

Oh, and another thing: there will be no cost affixed to this wonderful feast, no price of admission, and everyone (even people you and I would never expect) will be invited to the party. Underneath and through this message runs a deep and tender compassion for the human predicament, our habit of getting entangled, trapped, in ways and habits that cut us off from the source of what we need most, or worse, being taken captive against our will by forces beyond our control, like racism, sexism, and materialism, to name only a few.

The Book of Comfort

Our passage from Isaiah comes from the beautiful Book of Comfort, addressed to the Jewish people in exile in Babylon almost six hundred years before Jesus. We know that a prophet speaks sternly to the people when they need it, but also knows how to speak tenderly, to convey God's great love and mercy; in fact, that really brings out the poet in a prophet.

And this prophet knows that the people are hungry for a message of hope, a message that promises an end to their captivity and a different way of life, back home, where they can be who they are called to be, and live lives faithful to the God who has made an everlasting covenant with them. Today, we might say that these words are "comfort food" for the soul of the people.

Isaiah knows that even the mention of the great King David's name will stir the people's memory, drawing their hearts and minds back to a time when Israel was a people great and glorious. Here, however, he adds that this time, as God renews the covenant, it is extended beyond one king or dynasty and even beyond one people, for the chosen people will be a light to the nations, drawing to it people they have never known or even heard of.

Overflowing feasts and good news

Long ago, God had led the people from bondage in Egypt and fed them manna and water on their way to a land flowing with milk and honey, but this trip home will be no bread-and-water journey. This will be an overflowing feast of delicious, delightful foods.

Timothy Saleska recalls his mother's voice calling him to supper as a child: "Come and get it!" was music to his ears, not a command but "good news." He and his brother were happy to run home when they heard these words, just as the people long ago, in exile, in "desolation and death," would have thrilled to hear an invitation to come and enjoy free food, wine, milk, and the restoration for which they longed (The Lectionary Commentary: The Old Testament and Acts).

It would have sounded to their hungry hearts like their mother, calling them home to supper. The same might be said of us, today.

Read the scriptures and this entire reflection here.