I Will Not Leave You Orphaned

Meditation on John 14:1-7, 15-19, 25-27

In Memory of Joann Chambers Haynes Thompson

The Presbyterian Church, Coshocton, OH

Pastor Karen Crawford

Sept. 18, 2020

Joann Thompson

    Here is a link to the entire service:

Sept. 18, 2020 celebration of life for Joann Thompson

You know how when you meet someone and you feel like you already know them? That’s how it was when I met Joann Thompson last year. She came through the greeting line after worship. Lisa introduced us, and Joann told me she lived in Beavercreek. I immediately thought of Beaver Creek in Pennsylvania. That’s how new I was to Ohio! Am I saying it right? Beavercreek?

    Joann told me how much she enjoyed worship and loved this church, the church of her childhood. She wanted to share memories, I think, but there wasn’t time. There were other people in line behind her. Isn’t that how it always seems to be? We are in a hurry and yet these seemingly small but important openings for relationships to develop present themselves, like a beautiful but short-lived flower that blooms then fades quickly in bright sunlight.

    I didn’t know that would be the only opportunity I would have to speak with her. I can only give thanks for the privilege of meeting her, and the honor of sharing her story and the promises of Jesus Christ with you.

     Joann was born in Logan, Ohio, on Christmas Eve in 1928. She would be a middle child, with an older sister, Mary, and younger sister, Emily.  Her parents, Harold and Thelma Chambers, would live on 16th Street in Coshocton and later on Cambridge Road. Joann’s dad was a Coshocton County Extension Agent; her mom was a teacher at Lincoln Elementary School. Harold and Thelma were longtime members of The Presbyterian Church. Joann and her sisters attended Sunday school. All three girls, though they would move away when they grew up, would be married here.

    Joann joined the church on April 6, 1941. Our records say that her first name was Natalie! Her middle name was Joann. Why didn’t she like the name Natalie? I think it’s beautiful! Isn’t that funny—how we often don’t feel as if we fit the names given to us at birth? I do know this for sure, that whatever the name is that we call ourselves, God knows our names and everything about us. Psalm 139 tells us this—that God knows us before we were born. When he knit us together in our mother’s womb, we were fearfully and wonderfully made!

    Joann possessed musical gifts. She sang in choirs, played piano, and played flute in Coshocton High School’s marching band. After she graduated in 1947, she went on to study music at Ohio State. She graduated in 1952 and found a position teaching music at a school in Fairborn. She actually lived on the same street in Fairborn where her daughter, Lee, lives now–and Lee didn’t know that when she moved there!

    Joann met Howard Haynes through mutual friends while living in Fairborn. They were married June 26, 1954, here in this sanctuary, by Rev. John Abernethy. She continued to teach music in Fairborn and attended Memorial Presbyterian Church in Dayton, transferring her membership from the church of her childhood on Sept. 15, 1958. She took some time off from teaching when she had her own children—Susan and Lee Anne. When Lee was in 5th grade, the family moved to a new home they had built in Beavercreek. Joann went back to school, before that move, and attended Wright State University to study Elementary Education. She taught 3rd graders for 17 years. Isn’t that awesome?

     Tragically, Joann’s husband, Howard, died of cancer in 1986. He was 59. While some people are blessed with only one loving companion for their lives, God provided another for Joann. It was also a second chance love as Joann and Henry Thompson had dated in high school. Their relationship had ended when Henry was drafted into the U.S. Army after graduation. Joann was brokenhearted. Henry served in Korea before attending Miami University and coming back to Coshocton to work in the real estate and insurance business with his father.

     Joann and Henry married on June 23, 1990 in Tucson, Arizona, where they would make their new life together. Henry worked as a realtor there, and they attended Catalina Foothills Church. Joann sang in the choir for many years, and her daughter, Lee, sang with her.

     After Henry’s retirement in 2010, they moved back to Ohio. As we grow older, we often feel the pull to go to the place we called home when we were young.

    They were married 28 years when Henry went home to be with the Lord on April 3, 2018 at the age of 88.

***

  Our reading in John 14 is about the place Christ’s disciples will call home when the Lord goes to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house, then comes again and takes them to himself. “So that where I am,” he says, “there you may be also.”  The disciples are grieving as Jesus speaks of his departure, telling them about how he will die; this is just too much for them to bear for the one they love.

    When Jesus says, “you know the way to the place where I am going,” Thomas interrupts with an emotional plea, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

    It’s simple, Jesus says. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    What really touches me in this familiar passage is the promise that Jesus won’t leave us orphaned! That seems especially important today as we remember the life of Joann—a mother, stepmother and grandmother. No matter how old we are, when we lose a parent, we feel like an orphan. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to all who love Him and seek to keep His commandments. The Lord will abide with us forever—here, now, in Spirit, and face to face in the world to come!  

      Jesus says at the beginning and end of this passage, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” He repeats this phrase because he knows they ARE anxious, just as you and I are anxious at the thought of living without our loved ones with us. Jesus knows this because he is both God and one of us, feeling all the same emotions that we do.

      Christ’s promise of peace is a gift for his earliest disciples; it strengthens them in their time of grief and helps them to continue his ministry on earth, following in his footsteps.  It’s a peace that lives in us and strengthens us today to do God’s will.

 ***

      When I asked Lee to tell me about her mother, she said. “Mom was a strong woman, who could calm your fears and make things make sense. She was a good listener when I needed to vent. She had a great sense of humor. She had a good memory! Three things she told everyone to have: a positive attitude, a sense of humor, and a glass of wine every day!

    “She used to enjoy sewing clothes when we were little; later years she enjoyed counted cross stitch and quilting. She was an avid reader, enjoying books by James Patterson and Bill O’Reilly and historical novels about Scotland or England. She also was a fan of Fox News! 

     Family meant everything to her. Joann was happy to be able to attend her step grandson Justin’s wedding on July 25—days before she went home to be with the Lord on Aug. 11. Psalm 139 assures us that the Lord knows the number of our days and that they are written down in God’s book, before they even existed.

    I am convinced that Joann, the special lady I met too briefly in a greeting line after worship, would want her family to know that it was her time to join Christ in the joy that He had prepared. This same joy awaits each of us in the house of our heavenly parent. “I will not leave you orphaned!” Christ is saying to us right now. “I am coming to you….

    “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.”

Amen.

Sept. 13, 2020 Virtual Worship

The Presbyterian Church, 142 N. 4th St., Coshocton, OH 43812

Pastor Karen Crawford

Diane Jones, Liturgist

Alice Hoover, Organist

Parting the Red Sea
Sept. 13, 2020 Worship

Prelude: Thanks Be Thee  George Frideric Handel

Greeting/Announcements with Pastor Karen

Opening Words with Diane Jones

Give praise to God!

Praise the Lord, for it is God who saves. . . . 

It is God who forgives. . . .

It is God who delivers. . . .

Give thanks and praise to the Lord!

Gathering Prayer with Diane Jones

Hymn     There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy         Frederick W. Faber

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
like the wideness of the sea.
There’s a kindness in God’s justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth’s sorrows
are more felt than up in heaven.
There is no place where earth’s failings
have such kindly judgment given.

For the love of God is broader
than the measures of the mind.
And the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful,
we would gladly trust God’s Word,
and our lives reflect thanksgiving
for the goodness of our Lord.

Call to Confession

Prayer of Confession

Gracious and loving God, you lived for us—we have not lived for you. You have forgiven us—we have not forgiven others. You have loved us—we have not loved ourselves nor have we loved one another. Take pity on us and forgive us, God. Help us to forgive. Help us to live for you. Help us to love through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon

Time with Children and Youth with Pastor Karen

Parting the Red Sea From Sermons4Kids
(I Will Sing Unto the Lord (The Horse and RIder)

Prayer for Illumination and Romans 14:1-12 with Diane Jones

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

Exodus 14:19-31 with Pastor Karen

Holy wisdom, holy word. Thanks be to God!

Message The God Who Parts the Sea Pastor Karen

Hymn          Give to the Winds Thy Fears          John Wesley

Give to the winds thy fears,
hope and be undismayed;
God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears;
God shall lift up thy head.

Through waves and clouds and storms,
He gently clears the way;
wait thou His time, so shall this night
soon end in joyous day.

Invitation to the Offering

Offertory

Prayer of Thanksgiving/Lord’s Prayer

O God, we thank you for these gifts. Multiply them, and enable the work of love and the righteousness of your kingdom in the world. We thank and praise you.  Hear us as we continue our prayer in the words Jesus gave to us, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Hymn       Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah       William Williams

Guide me, O my great Redeemer,
pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but you are mighty;
hold me with your powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
feed me now and evermore,
feed me now and evermore.

Open now the crystal fountain,
where the healing waters flow.
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
ever be my strength and shield,
ever be my strength and shield.

Charge/Benediction

Postlude: Adagio Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713) edited, S. Drummond Wolf

The God Who Parts the Sea

Meditation on Exodus 14:19-31

The Presbyterian Church, 142 N. 4th St., Coshocton, OH 43812

Pastor Karen Crawford

Sept. 13, 2020

We passed another milestone this week on Friday; it’s been 19 years since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Can you believe it’s been that long? Some people were talking on Facebook about where they were on that day. Do you remember where you were?

I was a religion reporter for the York Daily Record in York, PA. More than 3,000 people lost their lives when al Qaeda hijackers flew airplanes into the Pentagon and World Trade Center. More than 6,000 people were injured. While no good can possibly come from an act of terrorism and that day forever changed how we would live, we can say that terrible day brought Americans closer together in their shared grief, horror, and yes, fear. I remember people calling their family and friends to tell them they loved them, American flags flying everywhere, and people whispering, “God bless America” as a prayer. People started calling me at the newspaper, asking questions like, “Is it Armageddon?” People who had fallen away from the faith, came back to church, seeking the Lord.

One of the miracles of that day was that most of the tens of thousands of people who typically worked in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center were able to escape. Many more lives could have been lost. And on that day of the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history, more than a few ordinary people became heroes.  

Here’s a story of one of them from “7 Incredible Stories of Heroism on 911,” Business Insider, 9/11/2017:

“Just a few minutes after United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center, 24-year-old Welles Crowther called his mother and calmly left a voicemail: ‘Mom, this is Welles. I want you to know that I’m ok.’

“Crowther was an equities trader at Sandler O’Neil and Partners on the 104th floor. But after that call, the man who was a volunteer firefighter in his teens made his way down to the 78th floor sky lobby and became a hero to strangers known only as ‘the man in the red bandana.’

“Amid the smoke, chaos and debris, Crowther helped injured and disoriented office workers to safety, risking his own life in the process. Though they couldn’t see much through the haze, those he saved recalled a tall figure wearing a red bandana to shield his lungs and mouth.

“… In what’s been described as a “strong, authoritative voice,” Crowther directed survivors to the stairway and encouraged them to help others while he carried an injured woman on his back. After bringing her 15 floors down to safety, he made his way back up to help others.”

“Everyone who can stand, stand now,” Crowther told survivors while directing them to a stairway exit. “If you can help others, do so.”

Crowther is credited with saving at least a dozen people that day.

And another hero story of 911:

“Rick Rescorla was already a hero of the battlefields of Vietnam, where he earned the Silver Star and other awards for his exploits as an Army officer. Rescorla, who had been featured on the cover of the book We Were Soldiers Once…And Young,” would often sing to his men to calm them down while under fire, using songs of his youth while growing up in the United Kingdom. Many more in the South Tower would hear his songs on September 11, where Rescorla was working as head of corporate security for Morgan Stanley.

When American Flight 11 hit the tower next to him, Port Authority ordered Rescorla to keep his employees at their desks, but Rescorla who had frequently warned the Port Authority and his company about the World Trade Center’s security weaknesses, had already issued the order to evacuate. He had made Morgan Stanley employees practice emergency drills for years, and
it paid off that day: Just 16 minutes after the first plane hit the opposite tower, more than 2,700 employees and visitors were out when the second plane hit their building.”

We remember an ancient battle in our passage in Exodus 14 today. This battle and the victory belonged to the Lord. After the 10th plague is visited on his people and the firstborn children die, Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron in the night and orders them, “Rise up, go away from my people, both you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord, as you said.”

The Israelites are about 600,000 thousand men and women, traveling on foot, plus children and flocks and herds. They journey from Rameses to Succoth with their unleavened dough and gifts from the Egyptians who oppressed them—gold and silver jewelry and clothing. God doesn’t lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, though that was nearer. God reveals his reasoning, saying, ‘If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So the Lord leads them by the roundabout way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. God goes in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, to give them light. They travel by day and by night.

Then the Lord warns Moses that he is going to harden Pharaoh’s heart. He and his armies will pursue them. This is God’s doing! Why? He wanted the Israelites to cross the Red Sea. He has a miracle planned! In 14:4, God explains, “so that I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.”

When the Israelites look back and see Pharaoh and his foot soldiers, officers, and 600 “chosen” chariot drivers advancing on them, they cry out in fear to the Lord. And they turn on their leader, Moses. Suddenly the past is looking good.

“Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?” the Israelites want to know. “What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians?’ For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than die in the wilderness.”

Moses says, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”

The God Who Parts the Sea

Everything happens as the Lord has said. Moses lifts his staff and stretches out his hand over the sea. “The Lord (drives) the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turn(s) the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided.” The Israelites cross and the Egyptian soldiers follow. But at the morning watch, the Egyptian army sees the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looking down on them—and what a sight it must be! It throws them into a panic, and as they are panicking, their chariot wheels get clogged.

Nothing good ever comes from panic, does it?

The Egyptians try to flee, but the Lord tells Moses to stretch out his hand, once again. And the army and the Pharaoh are swept away by the waters of the sea.

Israel comes together in their joy over God’s victory. And they fear the Lord, believe in the Lord, and believe in his servant Moses. The prophet, Miriam, Aaron’s sister, dances, sings and plays the tambourine and the women join her in song.

The Israelites’ joy and faith in God and Moses are short-lived. Their doubts and fears, complaining and blaming will return when they encounter more trials in the wilderness.

I don’t have to tell you, friends, that we are going through trials as a nation. We are, aren’t we? Doubts and fears, complaining and blaming are the reality for the society in which we live.

You who have come today have a special calling to share your hope in Christ with those who feel their hope slipping away. You who have strength are called to support the weak in body, mind and spirit. We are not called to judge others, for any reason—not for their politics, or what they eat or when or if they observe the Sabbath.

God still performs miracles every day. They may not be as dramatic as the ones in Exodus, but they are still miracles—a baby is born, a child learns to read or play Bach flawlessly, someone is healed of cancer or other disease, brothers learn to forgive, broken families are reconciled; men and women risk their lives caring for the sick and dying, putting out raging fires, and helping communities recover from natural disasters and acts of violence.

When we look closely, we will see God working in our midst. How do you see God working in your life?

God used many ordinary people 19 years ago on a day we will never forget. When terrorists tried to destroy as many lives as possible, ordinary people were led to heroic acts of kindness and self-sacrifice that saved many more.

During the evacuation of the World Trade Center on 911, Rescorla calmly reassured people, singing “God Bless America” over a bullhorn as they walked down the stairs. He called his wife. “Stop crying,” he told her. “I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I’ve never been happier. You made my life.” He was last seen on the 10th floor of the South Tower, heading upward to look for any stragglers. His body was never found.

Survivor Ling Young told CNN that Crowther, the 24-year-old equities trader wearing the red bandana to shield his lungs and mouth, was her “guardian angel — no ifs, ands or buts — because without him,” she said, “we would be sitting there, waiting [until] the building came down.’ His body was later recovered alongside firefighters in a stairwell heading back up the tower with the ‘jaws of life’ rescue tool.

This is the God we serve. The God we trust. The only One who knows what’s in the road ahead and also what’s behind us. The One who revealed His love for the world when He gave His only Son.

The God who parts the sea.

Let us pray. Holy One, we are so grateful for the call on our lives—that we have the hope of all eternity with you because of your Son, who showed us the way back to you and gave his life for us. We pray for our community, for protection for the vulnerable, including the children and teachers in schools and our elderly in nursing homes, assisted living or homebound. We pray for healthcare workers and all the ordinary people who have become heroes during times of crisis, such as the terrorist attacks of 911. We lift up also the ordinary people who are everyday heroes, showing love, helping the weak, giving to people in need, feeding the hungry, working for peace and modeling faith, hope and love. Thank you for those who have lost their lives serving our country in war and acts of terrorism and those who serve our country today. Help us, Lord, when we are afraid or struggle to see your goodness in our midst. Help us to trust that you will fight our battles for us, if only we would be still and know you are the God who parts the sea. In Christ we pray. Amen.

Sept. 6, 2020 Virtual Worship

The Presbyterian Church, 142 N. Fourth Street, Coshocton, OH 43812

Pastor Karen Crawford

Alice Hoover, Organist

Sarah Swigert, Liturgist

Here is a link to the video of our service this morning:

Sept. 6, 2020 Worship with The Presbyterian Church
The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.

Prelude: I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light  (Setting by Michael Burkhardt) Alice Hoover, Organ Mr. Burkhardt has written “footsteps” into his music.

Greeting/Announcements with Pastor Karen

Opening Words: Sarah Swigert

Listen! The Lord calls out to us, offering life!          

 Teach, lead, turn us to your ways, O God.          

Walk in the paths of God’s commandments with delight.                                  

 Teach, lead, turn us to your ways, O God.

With our whole heart, we will turn to you and live!

Gathering Prayer: Sarah Swigert

Hymn (Glory to God #366) Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (stanzas 1 and 4))

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heav’n to earth come down:
fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown:
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation,
enter ev’ry trembling heart.

Finish, then, thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be:
let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee;
changed from glory into glory,
’til in heav’n we take our place,
’til we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Call to Confession with Pastor/Prayer of Confession/Assurance of Pardon with Pastor

Lord God, while we were still slaves to sin, you died for our salvation. Yet we still worship the false gods of this world, forgetting that you are Lord. Loving worldly wealth, we have not loved you with our whole heart nor loved our neighbors as ourselves. Trusting worldly strength, we have not trusted your word nor followed the Word made flesh. Forgiving by worldly norms, as have not shown mercy to others as you have shown mercy to us. Forgive us, yet again, we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Time with Children and Youth with Pastor Karen

Praise Song: Be A Light

Be A Light (Thomas Rhett, Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin & Keith Urban)

Prayer for Illumination and Matthew 18:15-30 with Sarah Swigert

This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ!

Romans 13:8-14 with Pastor Karen

Holy wisdom, holy word. Thanks be to God!

Message: Put on the Armor of Light! Put on Jesus Christ!

Hymn: Glory to God # 754 Help Us Accept Each Other (stanzas 1 and 2)

Help us accept each other as Christ accepted us; teach us as sister, brother, each person to embrace. Be present, Lord, among us and bring us to believe we are ourselves accepted, and meant to love and live.

Teach us, O Lord, your lessons, as in our daily life we struggle to be human and search for hope and faith. Teach us to care for people, for all, not just for some, to love them as we find them, or as they may become.

Prayer of Intercession/Lord’s Prayer

Pastor: God of grace and steadfast love, we thank you for your commandments, which order our life together. We thank you for calling us to live honorably with one another and pray for your grace as we try to do all that you require of us.

Liturgist: Increase in us, we pray, the capacity to love you and our neighbors without reserve and to love even those who harm us. Not halfheartedly, but with our whole hearts, we bring before you the cares, the concerns, and the joys that occupy us.

Women: We remember before you those who are at odds with one another in families, in neighborhoods or offices, and even in the church. We pray for nations in the midst of internal or external struggles and conflict.

Pastor: Teach us, O God, to seek nonviolent ways toward resolution. Help us to speak the truth and to listen with understanding when perspectives are far apart. We pray for love to bring peace into every troubled heart and place.

Liturgist: We remember before you those who have physical needs today. People who are hungry and thirsty; people who are exhausted by the demands of work or caregiving; people who are sick, or undergoing surgery; and people who live with chronic pain. Bring relief and rest, we pray.

Men: We remember those weighed down with needs of heart and soul. A worry that keeps us awake at night, grief that accompanies us everywhere we go, depression that clouds us, or an addiction that grips us.

All: Lift all of these heavy burdens with the light and peace of your presence, we pray. Sustain us over the long journey toward health and give us trust in you, ourselves, and those who love us.

Liturgist: We remember before you not only our cares, but also our joys—a birthday celebrated, an anniversary enjoyed; new beginnings—a baby born, a new school year begun, a new job, a new relationship. We thank you, O God, for the gift of laughter, for enduring friendships, and for cherished memories.

Pastor: We give thanks that with you there is always a new beginning, a way where this is no way, hope beyond hope, and life beyond death. Through Jesus Christ, our risen Lord, who taught us to pray… Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

Invitation to the Offering with Pastor

Offertory: Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love   (Setting, Robert J. Powell) Alice Hoover, Organ

“Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love, teach us how to serve the neighbors we have from you.”

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Dedication

God of our salvation, we know what time it is—time to wake from sleep and to turn from selfishness. We offer now our time, our talents, and our resources to be used for your good purposes and all for love’s sake. In Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Hymn: Glory to God # 377 I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (stanzas 1 and 3)

I want to walk as a child of the light. I want to follow Jesus. God set the stars to give light to the world. The star of my life is Jesus. In him there is no darkness at all. The night and the day are both alike. The Lamb is the light of the city of God. Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

I’m looking for the coming of Christ. I want to be with Jesus. When we have run with patience the race, we shall know the joy of Jesus. In him there is no darkness at all. The night and the day are both alike. The Lamb is the light of the city of God. Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

Charge/Benediction

Postlude: Praeludium in G  {Johann Kaspar Ferdinand Fischer (1670 – 1746)} Alice Hoover, Organ

Put on the Armor of Light! Put on Jesus Christ!

Meditation on Romans 13:8-14

The Presbyterian Church, Coshocton, OH

Pastor Karen Crawford

Sept. 6, 2020

Video of our Sept. 6, 2020 service:

Worship with The Presbyterian Church Sept. 6, 2020
Walk as Children of Light.

I am so happy to be here today! I feel the power of the Spirit as we gather in this space. I feel the joy of the Lord! Welcome back, my friends! Welcome home! I’ve missed you.

Who saw this coming? A global pandemic that would lead churches to close their doors for months? We thought maybe a few weeks, then a couple months and the crisis would pass. The virus has claimed more than 188,000 lives in our nation alone. And it’s not over, yet.

No, we didn’t see that coming.

If we had known and had time to get ready, what would we have done? Would it have been too much for us to bear?

Something about our situation made me recall the words of Corrie Ten Boom in The Hiding Place. In her book, she recounts the time in her hometown in Holland before and during the Holocaust in World War II when her Christian family were stirred to hide Jewish people and those who resisted the Nazis in a secret room built into their home. They were betrayed by a Dutch informant, arrested and imprisoned. Many of her family and friends would die as a result of their heroic acts of compassion. Corrie and her older sister, Betsie, were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp.

Corrie, the youngest daughter, had a special relationship with her watchmaker father. She would become the first female licensed watchmaker in the Netherlands in 1922. As a little girl, she would go on train rides to the Naval Observatory. There he would hold his pocket watch and a pad and pencil, and would stand almost on tiptoe with the joy of precision to watch the tower arms drop at the stroke of 12 noon. He would say, “There; 4 seconds fast!” Within an hour, the astronomical clock in their shop in Harlaam would be accurate to the second.

On the ride home would be the time for Corrie to bring things up that were troubling her. In those days, sex was never discussed, even in the home. But young Corrie had heard a poem in school that mentioned “sex sin.”  Corrie, seated next to her Father in the train compartment, suddenly asked, “What IS sexsin?”

     “He turned to look at me,” she writes, “as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads and set it on the floor. “‘Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?’ ” he said. I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning. “It’s too heavy,” I said.

       “‘Yes, he said, ‘And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For no, you must trust me to carry it for you.’

      “And I was satisfied. More than satisfied—wonderfully at peace,” she writes. “There were answers to this and all my hard questions; for now, I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.”

      I believe this is so with us. There is knowledge too heavy for us that is best to leave in our Heavenly Father’s keeping. As God speaks through Isaiah in 55:8, “My thoughts are not your thoughts.”

     No one in Corrie’s family imagined the terrible systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of 6 million Jewish men, women and children by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. But Corrie lived to tell the story—and tell it, she did, through the perspective of her Christian faith, from the ocean of God’s love within her.

    Love comes up again in our passage in Romans 13 today, following, strangely enough, the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to pay taxes to the authorities, and “pay to all what is due.” He shifts gears from financial debt to a debt we owe the Lord—obedience to His commands.

   “Owe no one anything,” he says, “except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”  Paul quotes Leviticus, as Jesus does, saying, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  He adds, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor.” Love, very simply, does no harm to another human being.

   It is in this way that we become spiritually ready—awake, alert, for when Jesus comes again. We want him to find us loving God and each other. For, as Paul says, salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

    Jesus may come today! Isn’t that a wonderful thought, my friends?

Corrie Ten Boom went home to be with the Lord on April 15, 1983—her 91st birthday.

What gave Corrie Ten Boom strength and courage to persevere through the harsh reality of the concentration camps and her many losses? Faith–hers and that of her older sister and father, who once said of the possibility of losing their lives for helping the Jews, “I would consider that the greatest honor to come to my family.” Corrie and Betsie led secret worship services at the camp after dark, sharing God’s Word through a smuggled Bible. Before Betsie died in the camp on Dec. 1944 at age 59, she told Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that He (God) is not deeper still.” The Lord gave her visions of a ministry to the vulnerable. Betsie’s visions would be realized through Corrie’s passion to serve the Lord.

Corrie was released from the camp 15 days later on what Corrie discovered had been a “clerical error.” A week after Corrie was released, all the women in her age group were sent to the gas chambers. She went home and opened her door to the mentally disabled who were in hiding for fear of execution and, after the war, set up a rehab center in the Netherlands for war victims. She returned to Germany in 1946 and met with and forgave two Germans who had worked at Ravensbruck and had been particularly cruel to Betsie. Her mission to share God’s love to the world and tell the story of how Jesus was Victor in the concentration camps carried her around the globe to speak and led her to write a number of books.

    Her favorite prop while speaking to groups was a flashlight. She would throw the switch and when the light failed to shine, she exclaimed, “Is there no light in your life?” She unscrewed the end of the flashlight. “Invite Jesus into your life!” She pushed a battery into the flashlight. The light still failed to shine. Her audience was startled. “What’s wrong?” she asked, echoing their surprise. She removed the battery. “What is this?” She pulled out a rag. “Pride!” And another. “Envy!” And another. “Love of money!” Finally, she would slide in the battery again and the flashlight beamed brilliant light.

   I spent some time thinking about Corrie and our Scripture readings yesterday when I took a break from writing to visit my garden. I admired the evening primroses, once again, that Dick and Alice Hoover gave us in the spring. They are the funniest looking plants. Some people call them weeds for their invasive growing habit. They kind of look like dandelions on steroids. Jim and I love them! Every evening, sometime between 8 and 8:30, as darkness falls, we go out to watch and sometimes make a video as the new, bright yellow blossoms open before our very eyes— 2, 4, 6, or 8 blooms a night. When morning comes, the flowers close and begin to fade; their work of bringing light and beauty in the darkness is done.

Evening Primrose blooming at night in our garden.

    This is a picture of our calling, dear friends. We may seem like ordinary people much of the time, but you should see us in the dark of night—when we shine the light of Christ and bring hope to the world.

It might be dark, but the time is now to wake up and get ready! Salvation is near! What will you be doing when Jesus comes back? Remember: love does no harm to a neighbor!

    Live as Children of the Light! Owe no one anything, except to love!

    Lay aside the works of darkness with which you’ve struggled—hurt, pain, anger, bitterness, disappointment, fear and unforgiveness, jealousy and quarreling. Do this with me, now, friends. Lay them aside. We don’t need that burden. It’s like that heavy suitcase that young Corrie couldn’t carry. She let her beloved father carry it for her, and she felt wonderful peace.

     Accept God’s love. Forgive! Forgive! Be healed! Be an instrument of healing for others!

    The past doesn’t matter. This is the moment that counts. Do this with me!

   Put on the armor of light. Put on Jesus Christ!

Let us pray.

Holy One, we thank you for all the saints who have gone before us and were faithful examples to us, people such as Corrie Ten Boom. Thank you for the honor of the call to serve you, Lord, and the opportunities you give us to shine your light in the darkness daily. Help us to lay aside the works of darkness, the sin that leads us away from you, hurts our witness, and causes us to stumble from the righteous path. Teach us how to put on your armor of light and clothe ourselves with Jesus Christ at the break of each new dawn. Lead us to owe no one anything except to love. In Christ we pray. Amen.

Virtual Worship for Aug. 30, 2020

The Presbyterian Church, 142 N. Fourth St., Coshocton, OH 43812

Rev. Karen Crawford, Pastor

Alice Hoover, Liturgist

Mark Wagner, Organist, and Pam McMorrow, Pianist

Moses and the Burning Bush

Prelude: Toccata on “Darwall’s 148th” – Rejoice, the Lord Is King (Arr. by Gordon Young) Mark Wagner, Organ

Rejoice the Lord Is King

Greeting/Announcements with Pastor Karen

Greeting with Pastor Karen

Opening Words and Gathering Prayer with Alice Hoover

Opening Words and Gathering
Prayer with Alice Hoover

The God of our ancestors calls us to worship.     

 Praise the Lord!                                                            

Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

Let us worship God!

Hymn: 423 Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun (Isaac Watts) (Arr. by Hal H. Hopson)

Mark Wagner, Organ

Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
does its successive journeys run,
his kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
till moons shall wax and wane no more.

To him shall endless prayer be made,
and praises throng to crown his head.
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
with every morning sacrifice.

People and realms of every tongue
dwell on his love with sweetest song,
and infant voices shall proclaim
their early blessings on his name.

Blessings abound where’er he reigns:
the prisoners leap to lose their chains,
the weary find eternal rest,
and all who suffer want are blest.

Let every creature rise and bring
the highest honors to our King,
angels descend with songs again,
and earth repeat the loud amen. 

Call to Confession/Prayer of Confession/Assurance of Pardon with Pastor Karen

Call to Confession/Prayer of Confession/Assurance of Pardon with Pastor

God of mercy, we confess that, like the disciples, we set our minds not on divine things but on human things. Doubting your loving care, we grab for more than we need. Doubting your loving purposes, we shrink from living as your followers. Doubting your loving plan, we become stumbling blocks in your creation. Forgive us that we may gain new life in you, for it is in Jesus’ forgiving name we pray. Amen.

Time with Children and Youth

Pastor Karen Shares a Message about Moses

Prayer for Illumination and Romans 12:9-12 with Alice Hoover

Prayer for Illumination and Romans reading with Alice Hoover

Holy wisdom, holy word. Thanks be to God!

Wonderful Peace (arr. Don Moen) with Pam McMorrow

Wonderful Peace, arr. Don Moen, with Pam McMorrow, Piano

Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm;
In celestial-like strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm.

Refrain:
Peace, peace! wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above,
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray,
In fathomless billows of love.

What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace
Buried deep in the heart of my soul,
So secure that no power can mine it away
While the years of eternity roll. [Refrain]

I am resting tonight in this wonderful peace,
Resting sweetly in Jesus’ control,
For I’m kept from all danger by night and by day,
And His glory is flooding my soul. [Refrain]

And me thinks when I rise to that city of peace
Where the Author of peace I shall see,
That one strain of the song which the ransomed will sing
In that heavenly kingdom shall be: [Refrain]

Ah! soul, are you here without comfort and rest,
Marching down the rough pathway of time?
Make Jesus your friend ere the shadows grow dark 
O accept this sweet peace so sublime! [Refrain]

Exodus 3:1-15 with Pastor Karen

Exodus 3:1-15 with Pastor Karen

This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

Message: I Will Be With You

I Will Be With You

Hymn: Take Your Shoes Off Moses (Courtney Patton)

Take Your Shoes Off Moses (Courtney Patton)

Invitation to the Offering with Pastor Karen

Invitation to the Offering with Pastor Karen

Offertory: Because He Lives (Amen) (Matt Maher) West Coast Choir

Because He Lives (Amen) (Matt Maher) West Coast Choir

Prayer of Thanksgiving/Lord’s Prayer with Pastor Karen

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Lord’s Prayer

Holy God of holy ground, like Moses, we question our fitness to serve heaven’s purposes on earth. Overcome our qualms with the assurance of your presence; bless these offerings that, through them, we may do your will; in the name of the triune One.  Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

Hymn: Lift High the Cross (Newbolt and Kitchin) (Harmonization by Michael Burkhardt) Mark Wagner, Organ

Lift High the Cross

(Refrain)
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
till all the world adore his sacred name.

1. Come, Christians, follow where the Master trod,
our King victorious, Christ the Son of God.

2. Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
the hosts of God in conquering ranks combine.

3. Each newborn servant of the Crucified
bears on the brow the seal of him who died.

4. O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
your death has brought us life eternally.

5. So shall our song of triumph ever be:
praise to the Crucified for victory!

Charge and Benediction with Pastor Karen

Charge and Benediction with Pastor Karen

Postlude: Tuba Tune on “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” (Arr. by Grimoaldo Macchia) Mark Wagner, Organ

My Faith Looks Up to Thee

Dedication from Mark: I have chosen this song in honor of our dear friend, Charles R. Snyder.  As this Sunday is our last service before your official retirement, we would like to take a moment to say thank you for all that you have done, and will continue to do, for this church.  Forty-four years of service to our Lord and to this congregation is an impressive number, but even more important is the number of lives you have touched through so many different ministries of this church.  You have taught us all to have a stronger faith and to love others just a little bit more.  You have been an important part of this church’s outreach to the community, bringing many people through the doors to hear the message of God’s love.  Your leadership and vision for the music program will be greatly missed, but we rejoice for the many gifts you have given to us over the years.  The Bunn-Minnick chapel organ includes a special stop called the “Festival Trumpet” which is only used on special occasions because it is so LOUD!  Today, it seems fitting to use it as a fanfare of praise in gratitude for your service to the church.  And just as the sound of the Zimbelstern (the bell / wind chime sound) continues to ring as the song fades away, we know you will continue to be an inspiration to all of us and we look forward to your continued friendship!  Until we can properly celebrate with you, know that we love and appreciate you.  Thank you, Chuck.

“I Will Be With You”

Meditation on Exodus 3:1-15

The Presbyterian Church, 142 N. 4th St., Coshocton, OH

Pastor Karen Crawford

Aug. 30, 2020

Moses and the Burning Bush

    


I Will Be With You

     The sky was growing dark and thunderstorms were threatening on Friday afternoon when I visited Windsorwood Place, an assisted living community here in Coshocton. Because of the coronavirus, this was the first time I had been to Windsorwood since last February, perhaps, when I led worship with Communion with about 25 residents and some of our members.

      On Friday, I was happy to finally be able to see two of our parishioners at this senior living community who have been physically separated from their church and families for months. I had to arrange the visit ahead of time with Windsorwood staff. And I wasn’t able to go inside the building, as not even family members are allowed to enter the building. But Jan and Velma could come out on the porch to visit with me. Before I was allowed to sit with them, I had to answer health questions, have my temperature taken, and sign in on a clipboard.

      Then we settled on the porch together, wearing our masks and staying 6 feet apart—I in a rocker, Velma on a bench, and Jan on a folding chair.

     The trucks rumbled by and the sky grew dark and the wind began to blow. But we continued to talk and laugh for about 45 minutes—catching up where we had left off before the pandemic had separated us. We talked about our families—children and grandchildren and siblings.

     They thanked me for sending them newsletters and copies of my messages each week. They especially enjoy reading the stories that members share in our Member Spotlight feature, stories that include times of suffering, sadness, and challenges along their journeys of faith.

      Then, Velma shared a memory with us going back to WWII—when her brother, Cletus, was killed serving our country. And though it was long ago, the memory brought fresh tears—in Velma’s eyes, Jan’s and mine.

     I could sense the healing presence of the Lord our God, breaking into what started as an ordinary day, an ordinary visit, an ordinary conversation. Or was it?

    That moment of grief was intimate and sacred. Though we sat on outdoor furniture, wearing masks, and social distancing, in that moment, we were standing on holy ground.

    As I walked back to my car, raindrops splashed down and I felt renewed joy in my call to ministry. I didn’t hear an audible voice. But I knew God was calling my name.

     “Here I am,” I said.

     “I will be with you,” answered the Lord.

***

     I don’t know if Moses felt joy that day, when he was standing on holy ground in Exodus chapter 3. He certainly wasn’t anxious to say yes to God’s call on his life. But then, neither are we when we first hear God’s voice. None of us feel ready. None of us feel like we are good enough.

     He had come with his father-in-law Jethro’s flock to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God, but he wasn’t looking for God. God was looking for him. And this is how he interrupted Moses’ ordinary life, ordinary day. He sends a sign—a bush that burns, but is not consumed by flame. Then an angel of the Lord calls out from the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And Moses, answers the voice, “Here I am.”

       He may not have known that he was in the presence of the Lord if the angel had not said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ And, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’”

    Moses hid his face, after that, for he was afraid to look at God.

    Acts chapter 7 tells us that 40 years had passed since Moses fled from Egypt when he was 40 years old. He comes as a refugee to Midian, named for one of the sons of Abraham with his wife, Keturah, after Sarah died. While we don’t know exactly where Midian was, it may have been on the northwest Arabian Peninsula, on the east shore of the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea. This would have been a journey for Moses of more than 100 miles. This is a strange twist in the story, for it was Midianites who sold Moses’ ancestor Joseph into slavery in Egypt to Potiphar, captain of the Pharaoh’s guard.

Moses flees from Egypt to Midian

     As Moses watches the fire in the bush and hears God’s voice, I wonder if he is remembering the faith in which he was raised and his miraculous survival as a Hebrew baby. His mother had placed him in a basket in the reeds of the Nile, disobeying the command that all Hebrew infant boys must be killed. Pharaoh’s own daughter discovers the Hebrew baby and adopts him as her own. But when he is grown, he witnesses the cruel treatment of his people and kills an Egyptian he has seen beating a Hebrew slave, one of his kin. Moses thinks no one has seen him and buries him in the sand. But others HAD seen him, and soon his secret is known to Pharaoh, who wants Moses killed.

      After fleeing to Midian, Moses meets the daughters of the priest, Jethro, at a well. He comes to their defense when they try to draw water for their father’s flocks and are driven away by shepherds. Moses waters their flocks, is invited into Jethro’s home, and is given the priest’s daughter, Zipporah, in marriage. Moses and Zipporah have two children and Moses begins his new life, seeking to leave the past in the past.

     Think about it. Moses is 80 years old when his peaceful life is interrupted by the burning bush! This is the first time he has heard the Lord speaking to him; the first time he hears the Lord calling his name! Moses responds reluctantly, fearfully. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

    The Lord answers by saying who God is. “I am who I am,” he says.

   And, “I will be with you.”

     Our Lord knows our names, as well. And when he calls to us, it’s to guide, empower, and encourage us to do the work the God has for us to do. Each of us has a unique situation and role in God’s plan for salvation, just as Moses had a special role for the salvation of the Israelites.

   And when we are afraid, wondering, as Moses asked, how we can possibly do the things that God is calling us to do, we have to remember that what matters isn’t who WE are. What matters is who GOD is. “I am who I am.” What matters is that we are walking with Him each day.

    Remember that whenever you answer the call, “Here I am.”

    God says, “I will be with you.”

    If we want to know the work God has for us to do, we have to open our hearts to hear God’s Word and be ready. For if we allow it and embrace it, God’s Word will work in our hearts and minds and direct and, at times, redirect, our lives.

     Romans 12 tells us how God wants us to live in these dark days, when the nation is angry, fearful, and divided, as we draw nearer to a presidential election, and struggle with a pandemic.

     Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church!

Let us pray.

Holy One, thank you for sending your Son to come to us, right where we are, to become one of us, and show us the way. Thank you for speaking to us in your Word and for your mighty Spirit that guides and empowers us to serve you. Stir us to see the signs of your presence in our world, like when Moses saw the burning bush. Help us, Lord, to sense when we are on holy ground. And to respond, “Here I am,” when you call. Teach us to love as you love, as you urge us in Romans 12. To hate evil. To hold fast to what is good, especially in these difficult days. Give us the desire to outdo one another in showing honor and be humble, not haughty, considering others as better than ourselves. Let us rejoice in hope and persevere in prayer, rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Stir us to generosity for the saints and to extend hospitality to strangers. Help us to bless those who persecute us. And as much as it depends on us, grant us wisdom, patience, and strength to live peaceably with all. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Virtual Worship for Aug. 23, 2020

The Presbyterian Church, 142 N. Fourth St., Coshocton, OH 43812

Pastor Karen Crawford

Liturgist: Rev. Dr. Jim Crawford

Musician: Alice Hoover, Organist

Moses in a Basket

Prelude: Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service (Setting by Wilbur Held) Alice Hoover, Organ

Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service (Setting by Wilbur Held) Alice Hoover, Organ

Greeting/Announcements with Pastor Karen

Greeting with Pastor Karen

Opening Words and Gathering Prayer with Jim

Opening Words and Gathering Prayer with Jim

You, who are many, are transformed to become one in Christ.

We, who are many, are called to worship God, the Three in One.

Let us worship God.

Hymn: Lift Every Voice and Sing (James Weldon Johnson & J. Rosamond Johnson) Alice Hoover, Organ

Lift Every Voice and Sing

Lift ev’ry voice and sing, 
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise 
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith 
that the dark past has taught us;
Sing a song full of the hope 
that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun 
Of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod, 
Bitter the chast’ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, 
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our people sighed?
We have come over a way 
that with tears has been watered;
We have come, treading our path 
through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, 
Till now we stand at last
Where the bright gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years, 
God of our silent tears,
You who have brought us thus far on the way;
You who have by your might 
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, 
our God, where we met you;
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine 
of the world, we forget you;
Shadowed beneath your hand, 
May we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

Call to Confession/Prayer of Confession/Assurance of Pardon with Pastor Karen

Call to Confession/Prayer of Confession/Assurance of Pardon with Pastor Karen

Forgiving God, we confess that we are conformed to this world. We conform to this world’s frantic pace, too hectic to notice all the blessings you provide. We conform to this world’s reckless waste, exploiting what you entrust to our care. We conform to this world’s shallow values, oblivious to the giftedness of people different from us. We conform to this world’s impatient attitudes, preferring the latest instead of the lasting. Forgive our conformity and transform us, O God. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Time with Children and Youth/Pastor Karen

Message for Children and Youth with Pastor Karen

Is He Worthy (Written by Andrew Peterson, Sung by Livi and Casey Kramer)

Is He Worthy (Andrew Peterson)

Prayer for Illumination and Romans 12:1-8 with Jim

Prayer for Illumination and Romans 12:1-8 with Jim

Holy wisdom, holy word. Thanks be to God!

Anthem: For All He’s Done (West Coast Choir)

For All He’s Done (West Coast Choir)

Exodus 1:8-2:10 with Pastor Karen

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

Exodus 1:8-2:10 with Pastor Karen

Message with Pastor Karen: Your Voice Matters!

Your Voice Matters!

Hymn: I Saw the Light (Hank Williams Jr.) Sung by Ransomed Bluegrass

I Saw the Light (Ransomed Bluegrass)

I wandered so aimless life filed with sin.
I wouldn’t let my dear savior in.
Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night.
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I saw the light, I saw the light.
No more darkness, no more night.
Now I’m so happy no sorrow in sight.
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

Just like a blind man I wandered along.
Worries and fears I claimed for my own.
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight.
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I saw the light, I saw the light.
No more darkness, no more night.
Now I’m so happy no sorrow in sight.
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I was a fool to wander and stray.
Straight is the gate and narrow’s the way.
Now I have traded the wrong for the right.
Praise the Lord I saw the light,

I saw the light, I saw the light.
No more darkness, no more night.
Now I’m so happy no sorrow in sight.
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

Invitation to the Offering with Pastor Karen

Invitation to the Offering with Pastor Karen

Offertory:  Deep River (African American spiritual, setting by Robert J. Powell)                 Meditative music in which you can hear the moving water, reminding us of Moses                     in his basket rocking with the current. Alice Hoover, Organ

Deep River (African American spiritual, setting by Robert J. Powell) Alice Hoover, Organ

Prayer of Thanksgiving with Lord’s Prayer (Pastor Karen)

Prayer of Thanksgiving with Lord’s Prayer (Pastor Karen)

Almighty God, you took a baby from the Nile and used him to lead your people to the promised land. Take our offerings and use them for your people in this land and throughout your world. And we continue our prayer using the words that Jesus gave us. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Hymn: Song of Hope (Argentina) Alice Hoover, Organ

Song of Hope (Argentina)

May the God of hope go with us every day,
Filling all our lives with love and joy and peace.
May the God of justice speed us on our way,
Bringing light and hope to every land and race.

Refrain:
Praying, let us work for peace,
Singing, share our joy with all,
Working for a world that’s new,
Faithful when we hear Christ’s call.

Charge/Benediction with Pastor Karen

Charge and Benediction with Pastor Karen

Postlude: Hornpipe from “Water Music”  (G. F. Handel) Alice Hoover, Organ

Hornpipe from “Water Music”  (G. F. Handel) Alice Hoover, Organ

Your Voice Matters!

Meditation on Exodus 1:8-2:10

The Presbyterian Church, Coshocton, Ohio

Pastor Karen Crawford

Aug. 23, 2020

Moses in a Basket

 

Your Voice Matters (Audio only)
Your Voice Matters!

I didn’t know it at the time, but I grew up as a child of privilege. White, middle class. Both of my parents were college educated. Our family of 5 lived in a bedroom community that by its location near Washington, D.C., was a place of privilege and opportunity.

     My parents had good jobs and owned a home when I came along in 1965, after my sister and brother were born. We had not one but two color TVs and two cars, including a station wagon that carried us on family vacations every year.

     I was a child of privilege for other reasons, too. We had many books in our house, and my parents loved to read. I remember my father with a book in his hands every night after washing the dishes, dozing on the couch before bedtime. My mother used to take us to the public library to check out more books every week in summer. We hung out at the community swimming pool, reading books, eating snacks, and lying on towels spread on the grass.

     Living in suburban, Montgomery County, Maryland, we had nice schools before I knew that some kids in other places didn’t have schools that nice. We had all sorts of important visitors to our schools, including astronauts in the 1970s who let us try on their space suits and consume freeze dried food and packets of Tang Instant Breakfast Drink.

    Opportunities for learning, recreation, and service were always there for me. I was taught that I should always work hard and do my best. Nothing, including my gender, should ever get in the way of what I wanted to do for a living. I was taught that my voice mattered, and, when I answered a call to ministry in my 40s, that I should use it to help others and serve the Lord.

  God has always used women to do amazing things—both women of privilege and women from more ordinary and humble means. Think of Mary, the ordinary, pious young woman who was chosen to be the mother of Jesus. And there are many others in the Bible.

     In our OT reading today in Exodus, both a woman of privilege, the pagan daughter of the Pharaoh, and two ordinary women of extraordinary faith, Hebrew midwives, are used to ultimately, rescue the perishing and set free God’s people from slavery in Egypt. All are in the right place at the right time to do important work for God.

    The Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, are given a monstrous command. The king of Egypt tells them to kill all the Hebrew baby boys as they are born. Their ancestors had come to Egypt when Joseph was second only in power and authority to the Pharaoh of the time. He interprets the Pharaoh’s troubling dreams and saves the lives of countless people—Israelites and Egyptians and all the other refugees to Egypt during a great famine.

    By the first chapter of Exodus, Joseph has died, with all his brothers, and that whole generation. A new king, who didn’t know Joseph, comes to the throne. He doesn’t like the Israelites. He’s afraid of them. There’s too many of them! He tells his people that before you know it, they will be in power over us and Egypt will belong to the Israelites, who will “join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”

    Fear works for the king. He turns the Egyptians against the Israelites, who have lived as neighbors for more than 400 years, and have respected Joseph and his people for his service to Egypt during the famine and beyond. They learn to “dread the Israelites” and become ruthless in the tasks they impose on them, enslaving them, oppressing them into forced labor, building supply cities for the Pharaoh, making their lives bitter.

     But the midwives fear the Lord and courageously allow the male infants to live. This draws us back to that Romans reading—how we are a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God and this IS our worship, living in submission to God. We shouldn’t be conformed to the evil of this world. We should resist! The Hebrew midwives—again, ordinary women with extraordinary faith—are examples to us. And they are clever! They play into the king’s prejudice by coming up with a story about how Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women. This is what the Pharaoh already believes—they are less then human, a worthless, throwaway people. Hebrew women are “vigorous,” Shiphrah and Puah say—again, playing into his fear of their strength and increasing numbers. They give birth before the midwife arrives to help them, they say.

   And the other heroine of the story? The Pharaoh’s own daughter who rescues the Hebrew baby whom God will call as his prophet. The Egyptian princess, whose name we will discover later is Bithiah, sees the basket with the Hebrew baby among the weeds. She has so much privilege that she sends one of her maids to fetch it and bring it to her. She sees the handsome child, hears his cries. God stirs her to compassion. Compassion is a divine quality that leads us to serve. In Matthew 8:35-37, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness. (And) when he saw the crowds, he was moved to compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.’”

     Bithiah spares the Hebrew child’s life, and she returns him to his own family to be raised, under her protection. And not only that, she pays Jochebed, the infant’s mother, for what is usually the unpaid work of mothering! The child doesn’t go to live with Bithiah in the palace until he is raised in his Hebrew family, learning their faith and culture. When he grows up, Jochebed keeps her promise and brings her son to live with the Pharaoh’s daughter.

    Don’t you wonder what the Pharaoh thinks of his daughter, adopting a Hebrew child? This doesn’t seem to be a secret, for the princess is the one who names him “Moses,” from the Hebrew root that means “to pull out or draw out,” because,” she says, “I drew him out of the water.”

   Bithiah disappears from the story and from the book of Exodus, then. And wouldn’t you like to know what happened to her, as Liddy Barlow, a Pennsylvania minister asks in this week’s Christian Century magazine? How did she feel when the baby she had saved became an exiled murderer? How does she feel when the child she drew out of the water one day while taking a bath returns to Egypt as a prophet with a speech impediment and demands of her father, “Let my people go,” in Exodus 5:1? How does she feel throughout the horrible plagues that visit Egypt because of her father’s refusal to release the captives?

      How does she feel on the night Moses brings his people out of Egypt, crossing the Red Sea on dry land and leading her father’s armies to drown behind them?

      In Jewish tradition, though not in the Bible, she was exiled by her father. What we know for sure is that she is listed in the genealogies of Israel in I Chronicles 4:17-18 under the descendants of Judah.

     The Egyptian princess who had been attended by servants became a wilderness refugee with Moses, wandering with her new family for 40 years. She marries an Israelite named Mered and names her daughter, Miriam, after Moses’ older sister, the brave girl who was charged with following along the riverbank that day to watch the baby in the basket float downstream.

    The genealogy in 1 Chronicles 4, then, makes Bithiah the great great aunt of Jesus, says Liddy Barlow, “an unlikely ancestor winking from the family tree.”

    Think for a moment how God has blessed you. Think of the times that the Lord has rescued in your distress, guided you through the wilderness, and how God has used you to help others, perhaps while you were hurting. You don’t know all the ways God has used you, but you know some of them!

     How has the Lord put you in positions of privilege or simply in the right place at the right time, like Shiphrah and Puah, the midwives who spared the lives of the Hebrew babies, and Bithiah, who drew God’s would-be prophet out of the water and adopted him as her own son?

    Though their lives are very different, Shiphrah, Puah, and Bithiah have hearts filled with compassion and courage when God desires to use them for his loving purposes. They resist the temptation to give in to fear and be conformed to the dark world around them. They are willing to risk everything, their very existence, to do the right thing. Their hearts would not let them do otherwise.

   Their voices mattered, just as your voice matters! Are you using your voice to help others and serve the Lord? I hope you will!

   The one who stands out to me in our Exodus passage today is the woman of privilege—the daughter of the Pharaoh. For after she used her privilege to help others, she gave up her life of privilege to embrace a new life of trusting in the God of Moses as a wandering wilderness refugee, marrying into the family of Jesus.

      Be courageous like Shiphrah, Puah, Bithiah, and Moses. The Lord your God will be with you as He always was with them.

    Remember God’s everlasting love and forgiveness for you. God has a good plan for your life—for your wellbeing and not your harm. A future filled with hope, no matter how dark the world around you may seem. Cry out to the Lord, and he will answer you.

    “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, we are grateful for the privilege of calling you Father, for being chosen to do your work. Thank you for the promise of transformation and that you will renew our minds and allow us to discern your will—what is good and acceptable and perfect—when we seek you. Thank you for using people of privilege and ordinary, humble means to accomplish your loving purposes. Help us to be courageous and use our voices to serve you and help others in need. Give us grace to see one another as you see us—not as we are, but what we will become as you transform us. Help us to be patient with ourselves and all the circumstances of our lives, trusting in your goodness, compassion and love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

F.O.R. Jesus

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