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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 calendar for all we have to offer.
Summer worship is at 9:00 with a brief 35 minute service.
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.
August 20, 2017
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Genesis 45:1-15 with Psalm 133
Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
Matthew 15:(10-20), 21-28
Trusting in a larger purpose
As much as we appreciate Joseph's deep and positive faith, and as much as we see the purpose of the long Joseph story as explaining how the Israelites went to Egypt, we might want to linger a bit on his theological reflection on God's will. We recall, for example, that last week, Barbara Brown Taylor wrote that Joseph "listened to his life" to understand what God was about ("Listening to Your Life," in Gospel Medicine).
Walter Brueggemann, however, says that Joseph not only listened but was willing to see, and "to host the hidden, inscrutable, unresolved purpose of God for his life that is beyond his control…[and] trust a purpose for his life that is larger than his own horizon" ("Taking a Second, Painful Look" in The Threat of Life: Sermons on Pain, Power, and Weakness). Brueggemann writes of the "hiddenness" of God at work in our lives, the "something hidden, inscrutable, playful, and unresolved" that requires trust in God's purposes even when we can't "see" or understand them.
God can see what's coming
Life, we hope, is not random, and not without meaning or purpose, but it's often a challenge to perceive what is really happening around us, or to understand why it's happening. In the big picture, though, it would be easy to say that God, like some divine puppeteer, made the brothers do something evil (in order to accomplish something good later on), but that claim would diminish our human freedom and responsibility. (Joseph, after all, reminds his brothers in his first statement--in case they've forgotten--that they sold him into slavery.) Or "post-moderns" may say that Joseph was just reading into the events and putting his own spin on them.
Read this entire reflection here.