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Prelude: Mozart, Sonata in B flat major K 570, second movement. Performed by David Rogers.

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Call to worship
Praise the Lord who is our provider.
The Lord is our hope. Our trust is in God.
God brought us out of bondage and has made us free.
The Lord is our hope. Our trust is in God.
Glorious are the deeds of our God, and mighty are God’s acts.
The Lord is our hope. Our trust is in God.*

*Feasting on the Word: Liturgies for Year A, vol 2, p176    

Opening Prayer
Gracious God, we thank you for being ever present with us.
We know that we are never alone.
Your mercies have been faithful and rich.
Pour out your Spirit upon us, that we might do the work of your will.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.*

*Feasting on the Word: Liturgies for Year A, vol 2, p177    

Prayer of Reconciliation and Words of Assurance
Almighty God,
we have been wandering in the wilderness of sin.
We have complained in the face of your mercy.
We have been selfish and conceited in the face of your sacrifice.
We have not done your will.
Teach us humility.
Teach us gratitude.
Infuse your spirit into our beings so that we might be reconciled to you.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.*  

People of God, our sins are forgiven.
The Lord is loving, and we are reconciled to God.
Therefore, let us humble and surrender ourselves
to the will of God for the glory of the Lord.*

*Feasting on the Word: Liturgies for Year A, vol 2, p176  

Based on Exodus 17:1-17 by David Cathcart

And the people complained, “We’re thirsty!  We’re THIRSTY!!!”  

The Israelites followed Moses into the wilderness and came to Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink. 
So the people started to complain:  We’re Thirsty!  We’re Thirsty!  

Moses said to them, "Stop your grumbling and complaining against God.  Don't you remember all the wondrous things God has done for you?"  
But the people just complained, We’re Thirsty!  We’re Thirsty!  

Moses said to them, don't you remember when you were hungry?  Didn't God make manna fall from heaven so that you could eat your fill each day, and gather enough on the 6th day to eat on the 7th and still rest? 
But the people just complained, We’re Thirsty!  We’re Thirsty!  

Moses continued, "And when you were still hungry and tired of eating manna, didn't God send quail so that you could eat meat?"  
But the people just complained, We’re Thirsty!  We’re Thirsty!  

And when you left Egypt with Pharaoh's armies pursuing you, didn't God protect you with a pillar of fire and a pillar of smoke.  And did not the pillar of fire lead you at night and the pillar of smoke lead you in the day.  And did not God keep a pillar between you and the armies of Pharaoh to keep you safe?  
But the people just complained, We’re Thirsty!  We’re Thirsty!  

And do you not remember slavery in Egypt how Pharaoh made you work seven days a week without straw to build temples to foreign gods without rest?  Do you not remember that you are now free and that God brings you to a promised land, a land promised to your ancestors, Abraham and Sarah?  Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel?  
But the people just complained, We’re Thirsty!  We’re Thirsty!  

Do you not remember when Pharaoh's armies were behind you and you came to the sea, how God parted the sea so that you could cross over on dry land.  And then God closed the sea up over the armies of pharaoh and thus God conquered your enemies and brought you to freedom.  
But the people just complained, We’re Thirsty!  We’re Thirsty!  

So finally, Moses prayed to God, fearing that the Israelites were ready to stone him in their frustration.  God gave Moses instructions.  Moses took the leaders of the Israelites into the wilderness to a dry place, raised his staff, the same one he held over the sea, and struck a rock.  Water sprang forth in the desert and satisfied the people's thirst.  
And Moses called that place Massah and Meribah because the people complained, We’re Thirsty!  We’re Thirsty!  

Message “Is God Among US?”  
I’m reading my notes from a sermon I composed in 2005. The sermon is titled, “Is God among us or not?” and the first line in bold lettering reads: DON’T FORGET TO PRAY!!!  

May the words we have read and heard
and the words we are about to share and contemplate
be acceptable to you, O God,
our Source and our Guide. Amen.  

The story we just heard from Exodus, and last week as well, are called “The Murmuring Texts.” The Hebrew word for what the Israelites are doing in the wilderness is translated as “murmuring,” “grumbling,” “complaining,” or a number of variations. We are to understand that it starts as grumbling under one’s breath, but it eventually grows to full blow insurrection on the part of the people. They want to stone Moses and Aaron to death.  

It is a repeated motif while the People are wandering the wilderness, in fact, it is the reason why they are wandering in the wilderness, because at one point the people’s complaining drove Moses to strike a rock and draw water when he wasn’t supposed to!  

We can’t blamed the Israelites for being dissatisfied. It’s 40+ degrees during the day and they don’t have water. How would we feel had we lead our families, our children, our parents, our livestock, into the desert and realized we didn’t have enough food and water?  

And, of course, we all know that the best way of getting a job done is by standing around and complaining. Though, the people in the story do more than complain: they are ready to stone Moses and Aaron.  

So Moses takes their complaint to God, and the people get what they ask for: water in abundance.  

In my early days as I was training to do pastoral care, one of my mentors taught me that before every pastoral visit I should take just a minute to discern what I need, ask for it, then act like I’d received it. If I was tired, fearful, discouraged, uncertain, then ask for energy, courage, comfort, confidence, and act like God had given me what I asked for. In the classroom we lovingly referred to this process as, “fake it till you make it.”  

It is probably the greatest test of our faith to act like we have received what we needed and asked for. But if indeed, God is with us, and we are doing what God wants us to do, we will receive what we need to do it. God provides.  

In the wilderness, the people can see Moses, though they cannot, themselves, see God. And so they constantly forget that it is God, NOT Moses and Aaron who is leading them and making things happen. They start complaining every time they forget that God is still with them. The reading from Exodus ends “[Moses] called the place Massah and Meribah [which means Grumbling and Complaining], because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “is the Lord among us or not?”  

The question under the murmuring is “Is God among us or not?”              

It is hard to believe God is among us when we are desperately lonely.
It is hard to believe God is among us when resources seem scarce.
It is hard to believe God is among us when the journey is getting harder and harder and harder.
It is hard to believe God is among us when losses are stacking up one upon the other.
It is hard to believe God is among us when we can’t even gather in God’s name, and remember our story – together.
It is hard to believe God is among us while forests burn such that we cannot breathe the air.
It is hard to believe God is among us while black, indigenous, and people of colour need to riot in order to get their basic human rights recognized.
It is hard to believe God is among us while democracy is being mocked by the world’s most powerful political leaders.  

However, instead of complaining about the situation, or murmuring in the wilderness, let us commit to asking God for what we actually need.  

We need affirmation that God is indeed still among us.  

So let’s ask for affirmation that God is still among us. And then, act like we’ve received it.  

We are a people of faith.  

We believe God provides.  

We believe God is among us.  

Moses went out with the leaders of the people to the rock at Massah and Meribah, and struck the rock with his staff and out poured life-giving water.  

May we also ask for what we need,
and may we witness and testify to God’s presence among us
and may we receive the life-giving water in the wilderness. Amen.  

Hymn: “If You Will Trust in God to Guide You” VU 286

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Prayers of the People and Disciples’ Prayer
Through God’s steadfast compassion for us, God has filled us with concern for our world. When I say, “God of Compassion,” please respond by saying, “hear our prayer.”  

God you have placed a desire for truth and righteousness in the hearts of all people. Uplift those who seek to live faithfully and lovingly by the prompting of your Spirit, even those who do not know your name; save them from despair, and lead them to the fullness of salvation.
For seekers of truth, God of compassion, hear our prayer.  

God, you call the children of Israel to make known your righteousness, and you call disciples of Jesus to take the good news of your salvation to all the nations. Help those who know your name to be faithful to their calling, to live according to your commandments, and to testify to your abounding love.
For all who believe in you, God of compassion, hear our prayer.  

God, you have formed your people into communities of prayer and service. Strengthen the leaders of your church: our Governace Team members, Doers, volunteers and staff here at Trinity United Church and, our regional and General Council members and staff. Espeically today, we pray for Michael Blair, the new General Council Executive Secretary. Give them humble and obedient hearts after the example of Christ, who humbled himself in obedience to you.
For ministers of the gospel, God of compassion, hear our prayer.  

God you have placed in human hearts a hunger to understand the structures and rhythms of creation. Grant wisdom to those who seek to comprehend the inner workings of the world, save us from arrogance, and enable us to work for the flourishing of humankind.
For scientists, God of compassion, hear our prayer.  

God, you fill the world with forms that delight the ear and eye. Give artists and musicians a vision of your transcendent beauty, and grant them skill to render their vision in tangible works that manifest the sublime glory of your creation.
For artists, God of compassion, hear our prayer.  

God you established the nations of the world to order human community. Kindle love for peace among the nations and their leaders, save us from pride of wealth and power, and enable us to serve the common good.
For those who govern, God of compassion, hear our prayer.  

God, you provide the earth as a garden, and you commanded the human community to till the land that it may be fruitful. Bless those called to the work of agriculture. Give those who benefit from farming thankful hearts for this good work. Help farmers to respect our common resources and to resist careless exploitation of nature for temporary gain.
For those who farm the land, God of compassion, hear our prayer.  

God you hear the cry of all who are in distress. Heal those who are sick in body, mind, or spirit: Comfort them in their need and help those who care for them. Teach us to bear the burdens of our sisters and brothers with humility.
For the sick and those in distress, God of compassion, hear our prayer.  

We offer our prayers through Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.*

*Feasting on the Word: Liturgies for Year A, vol 2, p181 ff  

And now we turn to you like a child to her mother seeking affirmation and comfort as we sing the words Jesus taught us…

The Lord’s Prayer: VU 960 "Our Father…" 

Sending Forth
May the God who is always near
bless and keep you on your journey.
Glory, honour, and praise be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
now and always.*

*Feasting on the Word: Liturgies for Year A, vol 2, p178  

Postlude: Bach, French Suite in G major BWV 816, Allemande. Performed by Daivd Rogers.

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