Wednesday, October 22, 2014
On third Sundays our service is contemplative. We pray in a variety of ways. In lieu of a sermon, I’m sharing a portion of the prayer service keyed to the Hebrew Bible lection.
HEBREW BIBLE READING Exodus 33:12-23
Moses: “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.”
How we might express this: Okay, God. You asked me to lead these folks, but you haven’t sent me much help. You’ve told me I’ve got what it takes, but you need to show me what to do. Don’t forget, these are your people.
God: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Moses: “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.”
How we might express this: We need a sense that we’re heading in the right direction and becoming a distinctive people in our culture.
God: “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”
Moses: “Show me your glory, I pray.
How we might express this: I want to know you more deeply.
God: “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20But you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live. 21See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; 22and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; 23then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”
WORDS FOR MEDITATION refrain of a 19th century hymn by Fanny Crosby
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock that shadows a dry thirsty land.
He hideth my life in the depths of his love, and covers me there with his hand.
PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING FOR GOD’S GOODNESS
Imagine a flow of life’s goodness passing before you. Visualize faces of those who’ve been good to you. Freeze frame some of the best moments in your life. See an unceasing line of God’s beauty and wonder passing in front of you. Offer thanks. (Children may draw a picture of a parade of good things for which we thank God. They may share these pictures near the end of our worship service.)
SONG OF GOD’S GOODNESS “Goodness is Stronger” pp. 30-31 in songbook
PRAYERS FOR DIRECTION
From the Moses story we learn that it’s sometimes easier to see God’s backside than God’s face—easier to see where God has been than where God is leading. We give thanks for where God has led our faith community thus far and trust that God continues to lead—and to call out new leadership among us. Consider prayerfully how can you help us move forward.
SONG OF GOD’S SUMMONS “In Love You Summon” p. 37 in songbook
PRAYERS FOR REST
God promises to go with Moses and says “I will give you rest.” Action and contemplation become a healthy recursive process. Pause now to rest in God’s stillness.