Sunday, September 27, 2020

River Sunday 17th Sunday after pentecost

 River Sunday Live Video

Let’s start with three deep breaths and relax….

River Sunday

Welcome! We worship this Sunday with the rivers and waters. We celebrate with the aquatic plants, the fish, the water fowl and all creatures of the waters. 

Let us pause with this musical reflection…

let us begin today’s worship…Water from a rock…if only

Call to Worship:

L: We invite the rivers to worship with us:

P: the Ashuelot, the Merrimack and all the streams that flow to the sea. 

L: We invite the country creeks to sing: 

P: Salmon, Bass and the Otter , trout streams and gleaming fountains. 

L: We invite the fauna to praise God with us: 

P: Peregrine Falcon and Redhead duck, dragonflies and Wood Turtle. 

L: We join with the waters in praising God: 

P: waterfalls singing upstream and waves dancing at the river mouth. 

L: We celebrate the song of the river! 

P: Sing, river, sing! 


Down to the River to Pray



As I went down in the river to pray

Studying about that good ol' way

And who shall wear the starry crown?

Good Lord show me the way!

[Verse 1]

O sisters let's go down

Let's go down, come on down

O sisters let's go down

Down in the river to pray


As I went down in the river to pray

Studying about that good ol' way

And who shall wear the robe & crown?

Good Lord show me the way

[Verse 2]

O brothers let's go down

Let's go down, come on down

Come on brothers, let's go down

Down in the river to pray


As I went down in the river to pray

Studying about that good ol' way

And who shall wear the starry crown?

Good Lord show me the way

[Verse 3]

O fathers let's go down

Let's go down, come on down

O fathers let's go down

Down in the river to pray


As I went down in the river to pray

Studying about that good ol' way

And who shall wear the robe and crown?

Good Lord show me the way

[Verse 4]

O mothers let's go down

Come on down, don't you wanna go down?

Come on mothers, let's go down

Down in the river to pray


As I went down in the river to pray

Studying about that good ol' way

And who shall wear the starry crown?

Good Lord show me the way

[Verse 5]

O sinners, let's go down

Let's go down, come on down

O sinners, let's go down

Down in the river to pray


As I went down in the river to pray

Studying about that good ol' way

And who shall wear the robe and crown?

Good Lord show me the way



(All candles lit.)

Matthew 21:23-32

The Authority of Jesus Questioned

23 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father[a] went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

The word of God for the people of God!

P: Thanks be to God

Sermon water from a rock if only.

Water from the Rock exodus 17:1-7

17 From the wilderness of Sin (ZIN) the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5 The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 He called the place Massah[a] and Meribah,[b] because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Sounds like a wonder-filled fantasy and yet have you ever seen a river come to life?  Have you seen God gift water to a people?  Where once was a dessert, suddenly a torrent of water?

“The story of the people of Israel traveling through the desert of Sin reminds us of the absolute dependency of human beings on water. Many of the current conflict zones have as one of their roots the lack of water. For instance the war in Syria was preceded by 7 years of drought which pushed farmers off the land into the cities, creating tensions in those communities. Cape Town managed to avert the day zero crisis of taps being turned off, but there were threats of the army being called in if day zero had been reached.

In this passage God tells Moses to strike the rock in a symbolic action. Later we hear that God becomes angry with him for the way in which he strikes the rock. In the Numbers passage Moses is strikes the rock in his anger at the ‘rebellious’ people.

“Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?”

Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. (Numbers 20:11–12)

This is a powerful reminder that we are to protect our sources of water, treat them with reverence and not abuse them. Much of Africa (as with the Middle East) is dependent on ground water sources such as aquifers. It is a sin and a crime against future generations if we abuse our water sources because of the urgent demands of people.

A more affluent life-style consumes vast quantities of treated water. Drinking quality water gushes into long showers, irrigated gardens and swimming pools, in contrast with the single taps or polluted water that people in poor communities use.” 

The psalmist today proclaims…

12 In the sight of their ancestors he worked marvels

    in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.

13 He divided the sea and let them pass through it,

    and made the waters stand like a heap.

14 In the daytime he led them with a cloud,

    and all night long with a fiery light.

15 He split rocks open in the wilderness,

    and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.

16 He made streams come out of the rock,

    and caused waters to flow down like rivers.

Here is that river in the wilderness of ZIN

“The miracles that are referred to in this passage refer to the wonders of water, how God divided the sea so that the people of Israel could pass through. He split the rocks in the desert to give abundant water. This reminds us of the Exodus passage where the needs of both people and their livestock, is met.

Hundreds of feet under the desert of the modern day Negev lie vast aquifers. The water is brackish, though far less salty than seawater. Throughout the Negev desert there are examples of modern water technology, including huge greenhouses for tomatoes and peppers. The crops from the Negev are timed to provide tomatoes and peppers out of season. And for two weeks each year the majority of tomatoes in Europe come from the Negev desert. This is indeed a miracle. But it is not a renewable miracle. Like seams of coal, once the water is extracted, it is gone forever. There may only be enough to last another 100 years.” 

There might have been a time when we could say these concepts of draught and climate change do not affect us …not any more

“About 370,000 people in New Hampshire – more than a quarter of the state’s population – are currently under outdoor water use restrictions due to the ongoing severe drought.

The drought has been escalating since May across the region and is now extreme in some parts of New England, with no substantial rainfall expected soon.

It’s prompted mandatory limits on outdoor water use in more than 150 local systems and towns in New Hampshire. These restrictions are concentrated in Rockingham County but extend throughout the state, in every county except Coos.

The small Upper Valley town of Enfield made its restrictions mandatory about a week ago. 

Town manager Ryan Aylesworth says they get their higher-quality water from lower-producing wells – heightening the risks from drought-related depletion.

“Irrigating your lawn for green grass, washing your lawn so it’s shiny and nice – these are the sorts of things that, at a time like this, just really need to take a back seat,” Aylesworth says.

He says residents have been good about following the restrictions so far, and that they aren’t banning people from watering food-producing gardens. Town data for earlier in the season, he says, shows people were already cutting back voluntarily due to the drought.

But most of Enfield – and close to half of New Hampshire – uses private wells, which aren’t subject to any regulations. Aylesworth says those residents are still encouraged to follow the public utility’s restrictions and stagger large water withdrawals, since they all share one aquifer.

“We’re obviously are leaving this in Mother Nature’s hands to an extent,” he says. “But every little bit that we can each do as a household to conserve the water that we have will make it less likely that we encounter water scarcity when we need it.”

The shallower the well, the sooner it’s likely to run dry, pulling up sediment and affecting water volume and quality. State officials say deeper wells may show signs of stress later in the season, even if the drought conditions begin to improve.

The problem stems from a low winter snowpack – not enough to recharge groundwater for the growing season – and sporadic rain patterns this summer. Too much rain at once, and the ground can’t absorb it effectively, leading to drought even amid bouts of precipitation.

Scientists say these trends will intensify as the climate warms.” 

As the climate continues to warm…a gentle way of saying hey pay attention!  We are called to be stewards of the garden, of this planet and yet many times we cannot see how just our everyday activity could adversely affect our climate.  Or more importantly how can just one person make a difference?

Well actually Paul had something to say about that in his letter to the Philippians:

Imitating Christ’s Humility

2 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was[a] in Christ Jesus,

6 who, though he was in the form of God,

    did not regard equality with God

    as something to be exploited,

7 but emptied himself,

    taking the form of a slave,

    being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

8     he humbled himself

    and became obedient to the point of death—

    even death on a cross.

9 Therefore God also highly exalted him

    and gave him the name

    that is above every name,

10 so that at the name of Jesus

    every knee should bend,

    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue should confess

    that Jesus Christ is Lord,

    to the glory of God the Father.

Shining as Lights in the World

12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

“Most of the world’s environmental challenges have at the heart the sin of greed. This passage gives the principles for life that could save this planet – be humble as Christ was and look to the interests of others not your own.

It is a desire for status that pushes us to continuously buy the latest gadget, car or TV screen. If we all lived a more simple lifestyle, the planet would have enough for our need, there is not enough for our greed.

If we were to put the interests of others first, we would consider the impact on the worker and the environment of the products we buy. There is no such thing as ‘bargain’ clothing. The clothing is cheap because of the exploitative wages paid to workers and the damage done to the environment.

In particular today we are challenged to look at our water usage and wastage and see how we can treasure this miracle from God.” 

And isn’t that the same that confronts us in todays Gospel reading? The challenge is to say what we mean and mean what we say.  As a kid I was much like the Son in the Gospel, the one who put up an argument, I don’t want to do it and then went ahead and did whatever I was told to do.

“The challenge of our Gospel reading is for us to walk the walk and not just talk the talk! The first son said he would not go to the vineyard and work and yet he did so. The second one said he would go and did not

Are we willing to actually change our lifestyles? Many people make resolutions or pledges to change their life styles and yet when it comes down to it , they have made no change…. If Jesus was willing to give up his status as God in order to become a slave, then we are called to live a life of service to others and to take up the call to a more simple lifestyle. Are you willing to reduce your use of water, to simplify your lifestyle? To consciously use water as if each drop were precious?

Let us remember that water is a gift of God. Water is mentioned 722 times in the Bible and yet how often do we actually preach about it? As Christians we became part of the family of God through the waters of baptism and yet we do not treat it as our sacred element.

We all know that Jesus was baptised in the river Jordan. But do we know our Jordan River? We think that the water used in our church for baptism came from a tap, but from which river was it drawn to get there? Can we adopt and protect that river as our Jordan?

Living the Word

What would a more simple lifestyle look like in practice? We live in a water scarce country and the impact of climate change as well as population growth will lead to increasing water shortages in the years to come. What can we do?

Water: we can all have shorter showers and put a bucket in the shower to use in the toilet. Wash clothes less frequently and make sure the machine is full. Purchase water tanks for church and home, and make sure our gardens are water wise.

Food choices: our food choices all have different water footprints. To produce a hamburger requires the same amount of water as a 60-minute shower and the water needed to produce a mouthful of steak could run your dishwasher 22 times. One teaspoon of milk is equivalent to one flush of a dual-flush toilet and the average bathtub could be filled six times with one liter.

Nevertheless, a family of four could save the equivalent of 17 bathtubs of water by swapping one meal of beef per week with lentils. Cattle are fed mostly by grazing veld and rain-fed dry land, which means they have a greater green water footprint.

Plastic. Much of the plastic litter that we produce ends up in streams and eventually in the sea. One of the ways to protect the precious gift of water is to become involved in clean ups and to put pressure on companies to stop using single use plastic items.

Water is a precious gift from God, let us protect it.”  Amen.

A call to prayer

God of All,

gather us into a time of prayer

for our family.

Expand our vision

to understand each human being

as our sister or brother;

and enlarge our hearts

to offer love for each other,

even as you love each of us.

Be with us now as we pray for members of your family.


Peace is Flowing Like a River

Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us

Our Creator, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

Invitation to the Offering

Offering our gifts to God is a holy act. In this sacred moment, let us offer our gifts and our lives to the holy work of God.

‘Donate Here!

Doxology #778

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;

Praise God, all creatures here below;

Praise God for all that love has done;

Creator, Christ, and Spirit, one.

Offering Prayer 

God, our Creator, through your love you have given us these gifts to share. Accept our offerings as an expression of our deep thanks and as signs of our concern for those in need, including our fellow creatures on planet Earth. With all creation we praise our Creator. 

 The office is open for regular hours

We are accepting donations for the kidz cupboard and the food pantry

I am available for one on one virtual visits or phone calls if you need any prayer we will be together again one day, but until then remember you are the hands and the feet of our lord in this world and in this world of no physical contact we can still smile, wave, chat, check in

I got Peace Like a River


Benediction/sending forth

May the Spirit of God, who is above all and in all and through all, fill you with the knowledge of God’s presence in Earth and the impulse of Christ within you. Go in peace, serving Christ and loving Earth! 

Remember we have coffee with the pastor on Tuesdays and Bible study on Wednesdays and the link to those meetings come out the evening before. 

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