PRELUDE: Today, Lent in Plain Sight: A Devotion through ten objects, invites us to look at Exodus 3:1–6. The object is shoes. The title of the meditation is “Take off Your Shoes”. If you have the book, read the meditation.
If you can, watch the following video based on the passage: The Prince Of Egypt 1998 : Moses meets God. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poZr9HjMizQ
OPENING SENTENCES Ps. 24:1
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it;
the world, and those who live in it.
Listen to “This Is Our Father’s World”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSt-2JpTzKc
God, forgive us for thinking
that we fill your presence better
in a specific place,
without realizing that you are everywhere
and that everything your presence touches
is sacred and holy.
Open our eyes,
so that we can recognize
the holiness of creation
so that we can live
with the forgiveness and grace
that can only be found in you.
In the name of your Son,
the one who taught us what it was to be holy.
PARDON AND PEACE
In Jesus Christ, we find the forgiveness we seek. Rejoice! In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and we can find peace.
(Take time to think about one thing during the week that has given you peace. It can be the sound of birds chirping, flowers coming out, or hearing from someone dear.)
SCRIPTURE: Exodus 3:1–6
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” 4 When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
REFLECTION: Holy Ground (Pastor Marissa)
Last Sunday was weird. I’m used to getting out of bed at a certain time, taking a bath, brushing my teeth, getting my clerical shirt on with whatever pants or shoes I’m going to wear, preparing and having breakfast with Mom, packing the computer, the stole, and anything else that is needed and then, with nervousness and anticipation, heading down to the church to prepare everything so that we can have a good experience worshiping God.
But, since we are living in this new reality of "social distancing" and trying to fight this mysterious disease, we stayed home. I woke up later than normal. No hurries. We fasted because we are doing "intermittent fasting"… and then we used the materials that I prepared to have our own “worship at home” experience.
I have to admit that, even though I prepared all of these prayers and hymns, it took some intentionality to go through with worship. When you have a busy work life, two jobs, and constant deadlines and timelines… you feel like the house is the only place to do nothing. It is the place where time does not matter because you are not constantly making a “to-do list” o things that have to happen. There are dishes to clean and clothes to wash... but these are tasks that are set on a schedule unless you are an organized human being... which I'm not.
So on Sunday, the first thing that happens is that when I come down for breakfast, Mom and I have our Beechmont PC shirts on. We did not talk about doing that. For me, it was the first reminder: “We are Beechmont PC wherever we are. We will do church wherever we are.” Then, after having coffee (allowed during fasting) we got our phones out, looked for the church’s website and started to use the prepared devotional.
As we were doing it, I was reminded of something that Pastor Elmer Zavala values in his ministry as they meet for worship in homes. The church is not a building, it’s a people and a movement. In fact, the sacredness of worship was practiced in homes and not in big cathedrals when Christianity started. The word “ecclesia” means assembly: a moment when people meet to talk about things that are of common interest to the community and the steps needed to serve others that are in need in the community. That is what "iglesia/church" should be. It should be a holy moment when people get together to sing with each other, pray for each other, share love with one another, study together, and be moved in community to go out and live in the values of the kin-dom.
In her meditation for today, Jill Duffield shares her experience of doing an internship as a hospital chaplain. She explains that the smell of antiseptic and other sights from the hospital did not remind her of the sacred ground that Exodus speaks about. I’m sure that Moses did not expect to be on sacred ground when he led his flock beyond the wilderness and came upon Mount Horeb. But, God makes any space sacred. God makes finding out that your mother is wearing the same shirt as you holy ground. God makes a burning bush holy ground. God makes a hospital holy ground… therefore, our homes scrubbed with Clorox and Lysol become holy ground… Ecclesia… Church.
Anywhere where we recognize what Duffield calls “the unmistakable presence of our God”… is a place where we can feel “reverence, awe, and thanksgiving.” And, I don’t know about you… but I have not worn shoes for the greater part of this week. Maybe my body, since last Sunday, was recognizing this place where we are living, as holy ground… a place where we can hear God's voice, worship God, sing, and give thanks… like our Christian ancestors did.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION (From Lent In Plain Sight, a Devotion Through Ten Objects)
Have you ever experienced holy ground in an unexpected place? What about it made it such? How did you respond?
Why did God instruct Moses to take off his shoes? What did his shoes symbolize?
Have you ever metaphorically or literally taken off your shoes as a sign of respect or humility?
HYMN: Take Your Shoes Off Moses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPvto34cqmE
PRAYER OF INTERCESSION (A word of prayer from the 223rd General Assembly co-moderators for these uncertain times…)
Eternal God, sustainer, provider, God of all wisdom and knowledge,
Our spirits are weary, our faith quivers, our minds get clouded by news of sickness and death.
You know our thoughts before we express them, even the fears we dismiss, you know them.
We cannot hide our feelings and worries from you.
So, as we are, we come to You, Oh God, asking for wisdom, for clear minds and open hearts, for calm and assurance that, through the crisis, You are present.
Knowing that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words,”
We ask for wisdom and protection…
For medical personnel, scientists, doctors, nurses, and laboratory technicians.
For those around the world considering current and other health crises.
For health care personnel and caregivers.
We lift them up to You.
Bendíceles con sabiduría; protégeles de todo mal.
We ask for clear minds and open hearts as people navigate daily lives…
As closures, cancellations, and quarantines are enacted.
As families gather in their homes, some caring for those who are sick.
As we encounter neighbors in our neighborhoods, stores, and pharmacies.
Bendícenos con paciencia y creatividad, amor y entendimiento.
We pray for the sick, those who have lost or are at risk of losing jobs in the midst of this crisis, for those whose health or social services will be or have been affected, for those suffering the direct effects of this virus, locally and around the world.
Illumine us, Holy Spirit. Show us in what ways we can be of help as we care for self and others.
Ilumínanos para sabér cómo ayudar.
We ask for calm, assurance, and strength.
May we all remember that, in the midst of any crisis,
Your grace reaches us,
Your hope enlightens us,
And Your love surrounds us all.
En medio de la crisis,
tu gracia nos alcanza,
tu esperanza nos ilumina,
y tu amor nos rodea.
DISMISSAL 1 Tim. 6:21
Unison: The grace of God be with us all,
now and always. Amen.
Bless the Lord. The Lord’s name be praised.