Monday, October 31, 2011

Women of the Word

Exodus 10:21 – 12:51

The Plague of Locusts (watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot)

            After the plague of locusts, when Pharaoh still refused to let the Israelites leave, the Lord ordered Moses to stretch his hand toward the sky to create darkness throughout the land, “darkness that can be felt.”  For three days all of Egypt was plunged into total pitch blackness, so that no one was able to move or to see, except in those areas where the Israelites lived.  (Here the J writer is emphasizing that it was believed that it took three days after death for the spirit to leave the body, for one to be truly dead.  In the New Testament, both Jesus and Lazarus were in the tomb for three days.)  This time Pharaoh tried some horse-trading with Moses; he agreed to the release of the Israelites but wanted to keep all their livestock.  Moses refused; Pharaoh refused; and they parted once again on bad terms.  Unspoken, but clearly overlaying the darkness in the land was the darkness in Pharaoh’s heart; power is a tough thing to give up.

            By now it was obvious that Pharaoh was not going to acquiesce to any of Moses and Aaron’s requests, so the Lord told them that He would send one last plague upon Egypt: the killing of each first-born child.  Moses told Pharaoh what was to befall his people with this tenth and final plague: “All Egypt will send up a great cry of anguish, a cry the like of which has never been heard before, nor ever will be again” (11:6).  In preparation for this, the Lord had the Israelites ask their Egyptian neighbors for gifts of gold and silver jewelry, which they received because the Lord had “made the Egyptians well-disposed towards them . . . and Moses a very great man in Egypt” (11:3).  As before, Yahweh promised that the coming plague would not harm any Hebrew family.

            The Priestly writer takes over in Chapter 12 and interjects in the first twenty verses detailed instructions on the keeping of the Passover, one of the most important feasts in the Jewish year.  (Again, we are reminded that this is being transcribed from oral tradition during the Babylonian exile, so that the Jewish community might keep its traditions intact.)

            At verse 21, the actual story of the night of the Passover starts, with Moses instructing the Israelites to slaughter a sheep, dip marjoram in the blood, and smear it on the lintel and the two doorposts of each house.  No one was to leave their home that night when the angel of the Lord would go through Egypt and strike the first-born of each house, except those dwellings with the blood on the doors.  Again, in verses 24-27, there is a reminder that “when you enter the land which the Lord will give you as He promised, you shall observe this rite.”

            By midnight, every first-born in Egypt:  man, woman, beast, freeman, slave—“not a house in Egypt was without its dead.”  Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron to the palace in the middle of the night and told them to get out and take their households, their livestock, and go “or else . . . we shall all be dead.”  So the Israelites quickly packed up, grabbed their baking dough before it had risen, and, taking the gold and silver they had gotten from their Egyptian neighbors, they set out.

            With this description of the Israelites’ hasty leave-taking, the J writer interjects with a count of the number of men and their households who left Egypt on the night of the first Passover and points out that, on their first stop, they were forced to bake their dough into unleavened cakes (a reiteration of part of the Passover ritual detailed by the Priestly writer in ch. 12:15).  He also claims that the Hebrews had been settled in Egypt, as immigrant guests and, later, slaves, for 430 years.

            In verses 43-51, the Priestly writer returns with further rules for the treatment of foreigners and non-Hebrew hired persons regarding the Passover meals.  Here he impresses on the reader that the rite of circumcision is a necessary first step, setting the participant apart from the general population of the country; this may refer back to Zipporah’s saving Moses’ life in the wilderness when they returned to Egypt from Midian (cf. ch. 4:24-26).

Submitted by Karilyn Jaap

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Men's Bible Study

Lessons:  Joshua 3:7-17, First Thessalonians 2: 9-13, Matthew 23: 1-12

Our guide and facilitator was Rev. Chuck Jones; John was on an R&R mission to Nassau.  Chuck suggested we opt for a slightly different format: read all of the lessons and ask of ourselves what does it mean to us, especially at this time of transition at Saint Thomas.  We suggest you do the same; find a quite time, read these lessons, and think of Saint Thomas and your own spiritual journey.  What themes and questions come to mind? 

Joshua is ordained by God and told that he will lead Israel to the Promised Land.  How did Joshua respond to his orders?    How might we think of the twelve men who were called?    In the transition crossing over the Jordan River, the priests and the Arc of the Covenant stood on an island in mid-river while all the tribes made it across the river; what does this mean?

Thessalonica was a thriving, multi-cultural trade center; Paul established a community of stout-hearted followers of the way.  What was God’s message, delivered by Paul emphasizing to the Thessalonians?  What model does Paul put forth?  Is the message relative today as it was then?  In what ways should we emulate Paul in our lives at the present time?   Suggest three ways in which you can encourage and help others that are having a challenging time?  

Matthew speaks to the walk the talk mandate; it is easy to spout the word, but it is a challenge to toe the line.  Reflect on those persons that have helped you on your pathway; how did they provide you insight on moving closer to God?   When confronted with an option of taking a seat at the head of the table, what is your reaction?   What are the qualities of a good leader?     Are you up to the job of cleaning out the stable?   Washing feet?  Hanging out with the Pharisees?     Who is our teacher?          

submitted by Walt Jaap

Moving from We to Me

Father John explained in his sermon this week that the Old and New Testament readings dovetail this week.  The Old Testament reading was the beginning of Deuteronomy as God is showing Moses the promised land while telling him that he would not enter it.  The scripture makes the point that Moses was still vigorous and capable, but his mission was complete and he died. 

In Matthew, Jesus is coming to the end of his time on Earth and has been dealing with a series of questions from Pharisees and other leaders who are trying to trick him.  The latest is “which is the greatest commandment?”  Fr. John pointed out that this might not be as easy a question at it would seem to us today…Jesus would have had 613 laws from which to choose.  As we all know, Jesus answered that we should love the Lord with our whole heart and our neighbors as ourselves.  Next he is pressed on the question of who is the Messiah?  And Jesus’ answers contradicted the Pharisees and others’ preconceived idea of the Messiah as an earthly king. 

Fr. John relayed an anecdote from a recent conference where the Reverend Dr James Tengatenga from Malawi in Africa spoke to the conference and noted that those of us in the United States have a different orientation from those in many other cultures.   In the US, we often approach our view of our being as “I am because of who I am.”   Fr. John contrasted this outlook with some of the most important services of the Church, including baptism, confirmation and marriage…in each of these, the congregation is asked whether they will help those for whom the service is conducted with a collective response of “we will.”   In other cultures, their outlook is “I am because we are.”  Like those people in Jesus’ time, this contradicts our preconceived outlook.

Father John pointed out that God wants us to approach everything in our lives from a “we” perspective vs. one that is all about “me.”  Whether it is supporting our congregation, our neighborhood, our town, or even globally, we need to “move from me to we.”  Only then can we expect to enter the promised land and experience the Kingdom of God.”

posted by m white

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Weekly Events at St. Thomas

Hello Everyone,

Here’s your weekly reminder of all the programs, services and events at St. Thomas during the next several days. Please take particular notice of all events in red.


In an effort to improve our communications with the parish we will be posting our communications to the St. Thomas blog and delivering the messages through the blog email service (provided by “Feedblitz” email - “Feedblitz on behalf of Come and See St. Thomas”).

The email service has an “opt-out” option if you ever decide you do not want to receive these emails or you can simply respond to this email if you would not like to receive these emails in the future.


It's that time of the year again for Operation Christmas Child. Please save your shoe boxes and fill them with toys, school supplies, socks, soaps, candies, and other items. We will be collecting the boxes November 7- 11 to be blessed on Consecration Sunday, November 13th. You can also purchase a plastic box if you don't have one for $1 after Sunday church service.

For more information, please go onto the link below:,AAAAADXAyfo~,SV0YHtB7jHHXYpju2uPbvWHbUfA7DOP6&bclid=811285962001&bctid=991488987001

Tuesday, October 25th

Centering Prayer meets tonight at 6—6:45 p.m. Come to the Sanctuary at 6 p.m. to experience the “peace that surpasses all understanding” through the silence of Centering Prayer.

Wednesday, October 26th

Men’s Bible Study is at 7 a.m. in the Guild Room.

Holy Eucharist with Healing is at 12 noon in the Chapel.

Supper, Song & Prayer is in the Parish Hall beginning at 6 p.m. Everyone is welcome! Bill McMahon will be our speaker. Please support Bill with your prayers and presence.

Godly Play is at 6:30 p.m. in the Library. Godly Play is for Pre-K thru 5th grade children. We will continue to explore the story of Prophet Jeremiah.

Youth Group meets at 6:30 p.m. in the Youth Room.

Hand Bell rehearsal is at 7:30 p.m. in the Guild Room.

Thursday, October 27th

Chancel Choir is at 6:30 p.m. in the Choir Room.

Festive Meal Hostess Meeting is at 7 p.m. in the Guild Room.

Friday, October 28th

Stretching & Toning is at 8:30 a.m. in the Guild Room.

Holy Folders are at 10 a.m. in the Founders’ Room.

AA Meeting is at 10 a.m. in the Library.

Saturday, October 29th

Flower Guild Meeting is at 9 a.m. in the Guild Room.

The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, October 30th

Sunday Services are at 8 a.m. Traditional in the Sanctuary, 9:15 a.m. Harmony in the Parish Hall, 10:30 a.m. Traditional in the Sanctuary and 6 p.m. in the Chapel.

Blood Drive is at 8:30 a.m.—12noon in the Cordova Parking Lot.

Sunday School is at 9 a.m. in the Canterbury Library.

Nursery hours are 9 a.m.—11:30 a.m in the Nursery.

Children’s Chapel hours are 9:15 a.m.—10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.—11:15 a.m. in the Nursery, coordinating with each service. Children will return to the service a the Offertory time.

Youth Group will meet at 11:45—12:30 p.m. in the Youth Room. Come and be a part of this great group!

Monday, October 31st

Stretching & Toning is at 8:30 a.m. in the Guild Room.

Yoga is at 6:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall.

See you at many—or all—of these events.

Pam Holley
Parish Secretary

Monday, October 17, 2011



In this Sunday’s sermon, Father John noted that as we approach the end of Exodus, we see a shift between God and his people.God had fed them, protected them and was showing them the way to a land of milk and honey and in return, the people were repeatedly spitting in his face.In Exodus 33: 12-23, Moses pleaded with God on behalf of the people who had just broken His first two commandments.God explained that he would no longer be going with the people because he might kill them but at Moses’ request, he would lead them. This change in relationship was reflected in the shift from a face-to-face relationship to one where God only allowed Moses to see his back. 

The Gospel reading is also about our relationship with God as well.  Connecting the two readings, Fr. John reminded us that Jesus was here as a model for us after we had repeatedly rejected God and his prophets.  Matthew’s story is the well-known effort of the Pharisees to trick Jesus.  If Jesus says to pay taxes, the people will reject him…if he says not to pay them, they can turn him over to Herod to be killed for treason.  Jesus’ response is to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God is what God’s.  Money is part of the world and belongs to the world. 
As Fr. John concluded his sermon, he noted that like the Israelites, we have found ways to replace God…for many of us today, we have done this with our “stuff.”  He cited a study that showed that the sizes of houses have doubled since 1950 and yet most of us still do not have enough room for our stuff…we can’t see God’s glory because stuff is blocking our view.  If we can hear Jesus’ words applied to us today, he is telling us that stuff belongs to the world, but we belong to God.  If we can give ourselves to God loving Him with our whole hearts and others as we love ourselves, we realize the fullness of God’s plan for our relationship with him and fully experience the Kingdom of God.

posted by m white

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Women of the Word

In Women of the Word this week, we explored Exodus chapters 7-10, the beginning of the story of Pharaoh, Moses and the Plagues of Egypt.  Missing the point entirely, contemporary critiques of the story claim that these plagues were not miracles, but natural phenomenon.  The Israelites viewed these as signs and wonders of God's mighty power.  Nature is not separate from God, but subject to Him and a tool used by Him for His glory.

The first miracle, Aaron's staff turned into a snake, initiates the "fight" between the God of the Israelites and the gods of Egypt.  Pharaoh's magicians were able to reproduce the first three miracles (staff turned to snake, Nile turned to blood, and plague of frogs), but the magicians were unable to recreate the other plagues, beginning with the plague of gnats, the fourth of God's signs and wonders.  By the seventh miracle, the plague of boils, the magicians themselves were afflicted.  The God of the Israelites had won the fight.  The plagues persisted, however, as God continued to harden Pharaoh's heart.  The writers of Exodus do not reconcile the issue of human freedom vs. God's intervention, but instead highlight God's power.  God is the hero in Exodus.

The plague of flies, the fifth of the miracles, was the beginning of the distinction created between the Israelites and the Egyptians.  The land of Goshen, the home of the Israelites, was untouched when the flies, diseased livestock, boils, hail and locusts overtook Egypt.  As God commanded, the Israelites were to remain separate from other nations, not to mingle with or adapt to other cultures.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Horticultural and Diggers Society

On Saturday, 8 October the Horticultural and Diggers Society (HDS) got into
high gear and over drive.  We planted the Snell Isle Parking Lot and Sign
Gardens.  It was great weather, not too hot, not too cool; Goldilocks would
have liked it.   Mary Beth Wagner made sure we did it right; she placed the
plants and provided training in digging the holes to the proper depth. After
we planted, we spread three yards of mulch and watered in the plants; it all
worked very well.  Many thanks for all of those that brought shovels,
pitchforks, and enthusiasm, we appreciate all that you do!!   We have a few
action photos to document progress.  

HDS is an equal opportunity Volunteer programs open to all.  Come and join
us on our next project.   

Walter C. Jaap

Men's Bible Study

Exodus 32:1-14

The people of Israel have received the Ten Commandments verbally, but Moses is still up on Mount Sinai receiving them in writing. To the people, he is “delayed” (or shamefully late, per another translation.) They ask Aaron to “make gods”, thus breaking the first (and second) Commandments. Why is “gods” plural? Either Aaron compromises by only making one calf, or (more likely) the story as handed down orally mentioned only one. Then, when it was written down, the plural was used. But why? After Solomon’s death (in 930 BC), Israel split into two kingdoms. To avoid people visiting Jerusalem (which was in the south), the king of the northern kingdom, Jeroboam, had two golden calves made, and had one set up at each of two alternative places of worship (see 1 Kings 12:28-30).

The writer had two objectives: to record history, and to teach that Jerusalem was the only proper centre of worship.

In our reading, the people willfully rebel against God. (Modern Jewish translations consider Elohim, god or “gods”, to be singular, thus implying that Judaism has always been monotheistic.)

In v. 7, by telling Moses that Israel is “your” people, God threatens Israel. He says that they have “acted perversely” or succumbed to moral decay. God threatens his “wrath” (v. 10); he even offers to make Moses the founder of a new “great nation”. But Moses does not give in to this temptation; rather he stands by Israel. He pleads with God: you have looked after us so far, so why quit now? Won’t the Egyptians be able to claim that you are evil: that you led the people of Israel out into the desert in order to kill them? (v. 12) Please God, don’t go back on your promises to the patriarchs!

In v. 14, God does change “his mind” or lets himself be sorry, but in vv. 15-35 Moses gets angry with the people, smashes the law tablets, burns and grinds up the calf, and makes the people drink water polluted with the resulting gold powder. Aaron offers a weak excuse for his actions (the people made me do it; the fire formed the gold into a calf) and the Levites, as ordered by God through Moses, put some of the people to death, as punishment. Moses wins pardon for the people, but God punishes all with a plague.

Paul began the conclusion to the letter back in 3:1a. After a digression – to warn against heresy and self-indulgence and to urge devotion to Christ – he tries to finish the letter, but certain concerns intrude. It seems that “Euodia” (v. 2) and “Syntyche”, two workers for Christ at Philippi, differ in their understanding of what the way of Christ is, and that this is causing disunity in the community. We do not know to whom Paul refers as his “loyal companion” (v. 3); he is asked to be instrumental in achieving reconciliation. We read of “Clement” nowhere else. The idea that God keeps of “book of life”, a roll of the faithful to be opened at the end of time, is also found in Exodus 32:32 and Psalm 69:28; in Luke 10:20, Jesus bids his disciples to “rejoice that ... [their] names are written in heaven”. V. 4 is the conventional Greek salutation (like our goodbye) but here Paul means “rejoice” literally. He expects the Second Coming soon: “The Lord is near” (v. 5). Then v. 6: rather than worrying on their own, the Philippians should ask God to help them, through prayer, both of “supplication” (petition) and “thanksgiving”. God’s peace will protect them against their own failings and external threats. The virtues Paul exhorts his followers to pursue in v. 8 are those for which any Greek was expected to strive: he urges moral uprightness to all who follow Christ.

This is the third parable about the kingdom of heaven. Jesus’ audience would naturally associate a festive meal with the celebration of God’s people at the end of time. This story has elements of harshness and tragedy; some responses seem disproportionate to the crime. It was the custom for the host to send “his slaves” (v. 3) to invite the guests, and again to tell them when dinner was ready; preparing a banquet took many hours. To refuse to come, to refuse a king’s command, is treason; to kill his slaves (v. 6) amounts to insurrection, so the king sends troops to put down the rebellion. After those whom the king had chosen refuse to come, he invites all people, “both good and bad” (v. 10). (In Jesus’ day tax collectors were considered “bad”.) One guest is ill-prepared for the banquet (v.11); the king banishes him to torment.

We recognize the king as God. The first guests are those who are hostile to Jesus; the one without the wedding robe represents those who do not count the cost in becoming disciples. The judgement on anyone who does not prepare will be at least as severe as that on those who reject Christ. The final verse is the moral of the story – a generalization of Jesus’ intent in telling the parable.

Submitted by Dick Nelson

Women of the Word

Exodus 4:27 – 6:30

            While Moses and his family traveled, at the Lord’s command, back to Egypt, they met with his older brother Aaron.  Together they assembled the elders of Israel, and Aaron told them what the Lord had said, after which Moses performed the signs God had given him (Ex. 4:2-9).  The elders were convinced and agreed to leave with the two men after they had spoken with Pharaoh. 

            Well, no one said this was going to be easy, and at this point the brothers ran into their first snag.  Moses and Aaron’s request that the king let the Hebrews go on a three-day “pilgrim-feast in the wilderness . . . to offer sacrifice to the Lord our God” was met with scorn and outrage.  In fact, said Pharaoh (who, since he was considered to be a god by the Egyptians, was not impressed at this juncture with the Hebrews’ God), since you are getting way too uppity for slaves, it’s obvious that you are all too lazy and have too much time on your hands.  Therefore, he ordered his overseers to stop supplying the Hebrews with the straw needed to make bricks but to require them to collect the straw themselves, to chop it, but to still produce the same number of bricks per day that they had made previously.  When this task became, obviously, impossible, the Israelite foremen were flogged.  Their complaints to Pharaoh fell on deaf ears.  In their anger, they found Moses and Aaron and cursed them, saying that the two brothers had “put a sword in [the Egyptians’] hands to kill us.” 

            This story of the mistreatment of the Hebrew slaves (Ex. 5:6-18) in Egypt is an explicit description of what it means to be a slave.  It also underscores, once again, that Israel’s freedom will come at God’s hands, not Moses and Aaron’s.

            Chapter 5 gave us the J (Yahweh) writer’s version of Moses’ first meeting with Pharaoh.  In Chapter 6, we return to the Priestly writer, with his version of Moses’ call by God to lead Israel out of Egypt.  In this story, there is no burning bush and no series of signs but a direct statement, “I am the Lord. . . . I will adopt you as my people, and I will become your God” (Ex.6:7).  The use of the term “adopt” is significant; in ancient law, a biological child could be disinherited but an adopted one could not.   Also, here, God reiterates his covenant with Abraham (Gen. 17).

            (Chapter 6 in Exodus also signals a change in the Priestly writer’s use of God’s name.  Up to now, the J writer has been referred as the Yahwehist, because this is how he refers to the Lord’s name, whereas the Priestly writer has used the descriptor El Shaddai.  At this point, however, both the J and P writers begin to use the term Yahweh or Jehovah.) 

            This time when Moses repeats God’s words to the Israelites (ver. 9), they refuse to listen because they had become “impatient” over their slavery.  Some translations use the term “broken in spirit” instead of “impatient,” which may better describe the Hebrews’ plight.

            Verses 14-25 are an interjection with a partial genealogy, a favorite task of the Priestly writer.  He lists the heads of the families descended from Jacob, starting with Reuben and Simeon; however, once he gets to the third son, Levi, all the rest of the brothers are abandoned.  The Levites are the priests, and the writer takes pains to show that Aaron and Moses are descended from Levi.  Once this has been established, the others, including such luminaries as Joseph and Benjamin, are ignored.

            At the end of this chapter, the writer gives a second, truncated, version of God’s call to Moses, although in this scenario, Moses is already in Egypt.  However, he’s still complaining about being a “halting speaker,” and trying to get God to send somebody else.

Submitted by Karilyn Jaap

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sunday School

It’s a brand new month. October is here and that means FALL!  It also means activities have begun. We are busy here at St. Thomas just as you are at home and we hope that you will continue to keep us on your calendar.

  • Our new materials are in and are so much fun. I was able to pop in on Sunday School and balloons and cotton balls were everywhere! We have videos and music, awesome art projects, great snacks and more. Way to go Judi and Russ. You are amazing.

  • Our big project this month is our Rummage Sale which will be held this Sunday during the Parish Picnic. The picnic will begin following the Harmony Service with food being served beginning at 11:00 a.m. There will be plenty of children’s activities including a bounce house and face painting.  We will collect children’s items: toys, books, and gently used clothing through FRIDAY of this week. Everything will be tagged and set out on Saturday in the Parish Hall. The children have decided they would like to adopt an Angel Tree family for Christmas this year so the $ earned from the sale will be used for this purpose.

  •  October will also be our month to begin to develop our KLW program – Kids Leading Worship. The foundation of this program will happen through Sunday School and will be lead by our 4th and 5th grade. We are very excited to bring this concept together at St. Thomas. Look for information regarding a parent meeting later this month. Questions? Please don’t hesitate to call.

   Thank you to our Sunday School Team for making all of this happen for our kids.

   See you Sunday….9a.m.

P.S.   Upcoming Events to mark on your calendar:
  • Supper, Song and Prayer – Wednesday evenings at 6:00 p.m. – this weeks speaker is Angela Wilson. Godly Play begins at 6:30 p.m. Please support Angela with you presence and prayers
  • Parish-wide Shuffleboard–St. Pete Shuffle Club–Friday October 7th–6-8 p.m. No cost and you are welcome to bring drinks and food while you play!
  • Parish Picnic and Rummage Sale – Sun. Oct 9th –following 9:15 Harmony Service through early afternoon


Father John began this Sunday’s sermon addressing the gospel reading from Matthew, noting that it is a continuation of last week’s parable addressing the Pharisee’s question: “by what authority are you doing this?”

The parable of the vineyard tenants similarly addresses the questions of who has the authority. In this case, it is pretty clear who owns the land, vineyard, press, well and watchtower.  The Pharisees understood this as well. This parable is not about how we should treat people, it is about who Jesus is. Just as the tenants could not have expected to truly inherit the vineyard if they had killed the owner’s son, Jesus was reinforcing His relationship with God as our creator.

Fr. John then addressed the Exodus reading that covered the 10 commandments and noted the "missing" verses 5-6 and 10-11 provide us with some (uncomfortable) perspective on the nature of God. He is not tolerant of our worshiping anyone/anything but Him. God wants a different kind of relationship with us than anything else in His creation. Similarly, He wants us to totally dedicate the Sabbath to worshiping Him.

Finally, in Paul’s letter to the Philippians he addressed the nature of God’s expectation for our relationship with Him. Paul explained how he was a “great Jew,” studying and observing all the laws as well as anyone. But he said that the only thing that matters is his relationship with God.

Fr. John noted that the Gospel provides us with a clear view of what God hopes for us in terms of this relationship and that we can have glimpses of the Kingdom of Heaven by studying the ministry of Jesus:
  • He healed the sick.  In many ways we are all sick and in need of healing.
  • Sinners are restored to God. In fact, Jesus often concludes healing by claiming that the person who was healed is also being forgiven.
  • Jesus consistently praised God.
Too often our focus is on ourselves when it should be on God. With His help, we should continue to strive to have the right kind of relationship with God. The closer we can get to God, the more we will enjoy the glimpses of the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus showed us throughout His life and His teachings.

posted by m white

Ponderings from the Men’s Bible Study

Context:  On Wednesday, the gathering was much into the Rays, because they beat the Yanks; I was especially happy, having been at the game and snagged a BJ Foul Ball.  We were saddened to hear that Mary Ellen Smith, the Bishop’s wife cancer was inoperable and it has spread.   Bishop Smith asked that our prayers be directed to Wisdom and Mercy.   We prayed also for Father Schuller as he sets out on his journey to explore new ways to serve and bring people close to God.   

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20   What are we missing by skipping verses 5-6, 10-11?  Take a moment to read the whole passage and the abbreviated version.  Do you think that which was left out is too harsh a message?   Some in our study group were dismayed that we were leaving out the tough stuff.  This includes that parental iniquity is going to be rewarded with punishing the children for up to four generations.  The words resonate in the context of the wandering folks that Moses was trying to keep in line.  If you are sternly warned to toe the line how do you respond?     

This passage is recalled in the Hollywood Cecil B. DeMille Ten Commandments.  The image of God giving Moses the Ten Commandments up on Mont Sinai on some clay tablets is a prominent feature that CB brought to the Big Screen. 

In the lead up to this story (Exodus 19: 10-24), God told Moses to get the people ready (wash the clothing and get consecrated) because on the third day God was coming down on Mount Sinai and all the Israelites would see God, but they were not to come beyond the base of Mount Sinai.  Only Aaron and Moses were to come up on the Mountain.   When God came to Mt Sinai there was smoke, fire, blasting trumpets, and shaking ground.  If you were one of those in the camp, you would have been shaking in your sandals.   This does not sound like a very pleasant experience.   God is coming for a visit, get ready and don’t stray.  

“God then Spoke all these words”:   You shall have no other God; don’t create and worship idols, don’t misuse God’s name; respect the Sabbath; honor your mother and father; you shall not murder, commit adultery, steal, or bear false witness; no coveting of wives or property.     While God was proclaiming all of this, the smoke, fire, trumpets, and earthquakes were in high gear.   The people were terrified. 

In closing, Moses tells the anxious and dismayed not to worry; God has put you to the test and put fear in you so you won’t fall into sin.   

The Ten Commandments historically are the basis of Covenant, the Decalogue, The Ten Words, the Testimony.  The Tables of God’s Law was given the most honored place, in an Arc in the inner Tabernacle.  A very similar set of commandments is fount in Deuteronomy 5:6-21; scholars mostly agree that the form of the Ten Commandments in Exodus is older and purer.   These Laws are the source and they are a backbone of Jewish and Christian doctrine.   There are many interpretations and commentaries on tqen big ones.  William Barclay wrote a book on the Ten Commandments.   I can’t pass up the opportunity to share some of Barclay’s good words.

“The Ten Commandments …the starting point for all those people who have agreed to live together in community,… the basis of community existence. The Ten Commandments should be seen as representing the voluntary and accepted principals of self-limitations and self discipline without which no group of people can ever become a nation.  Special emphasis is put on the study of the commandments concerning the Sabbath, killing, and adultery.”

As we travel on the pathway, the big ten are important in keeping us from going astray.  

Submitted by Walt Jaap 

Altar Flowers

The Altar Flowers are given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of
Nina and Eugene L. Williams, Sr.

Flower designer: Betty Jean Miller

September 18

September 25

Flowers were arranged by Julie Songster and Joanne Turrell, the dedication was for C.O. Ritch’s birthday by His Family.

October 2

 The dedication was for the 16th birthday of Ali Stuckey and Jessica Ball by the Ball Family.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Women of the Word

Exodus 4:18-26   

Today we learn that Moses is returning to Egypt to gather the Israelites and lead them out of Egypt.  He still had to first ask his father-in-law for permission to return to Egypt. (Moses respects Jethro.)  Jethro reassures Moses and wishes him well on his trip.

Nevertheless, Moses is going to be doing something that he does not want to do and wishes someone else would be sent.  He felt inadequate to be going on such an important and dangerous mission through the desert.  He had the staff that God gave him and this would remind him of God's presence and power.  He would meet up with Aaron.
We learn that essentially the Book of Exodus is all about God and about the Israelites relationship with God,  God says, "You have only one allegiance in this world...IT'S TO ME.   If you do, then all will be well and you will be blessed.  God, in the Old Testament, is a much more demanding God than He is in the New Testament.  Therefore, Moses was not given "an out"....he had to return to Egypt.  When they left, Moses was almost killed by God because he had not fulfilled God's covenant by circumcising his son.  His wife, Zipporah, took a knife and performed the circumcision fulfilling the Old Testament law.


Submitted by Vicky Steinwender