Worship Service – September 20, 2020

Sunday September 20 2020

Welcome. l invite you to open your bible and read our scriptures in: John 8:31-41 and Romans


Our message today comes from the book of Exodus 16:1-15.  Please follow along as l read.

 Exodus 16:1-15

1 The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord ‘s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”
6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord , because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” 8 Moses also said, “You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord .”
9 Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the Lord , for he has heard your grumbling.’ “
10 While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.
11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’
13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.

This is the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

Let me ask you to do a little remembering today. I don’t know specifically what it is that I’m asking you to remember. That will vary with each individual. In general, though, here is the assignment. I want you to remember “the good old days.”
What comes to mind when you hear that phrase? What time? What place? What period of your life and experience first occurs to you when you hear a reference to “the good old days”?
Not long ago I was sitting on the couch at my sons house. My granddaughter who was about four years old was sitting next to me. Her mother was sitting in the chair across from us holding her newborn sister. After we had watched for a while, she sighed wistfully, and said, “I wish I could be a baby again!”
At that moment I recognized that you don’t have to have lived very long, you don’t have to be very old, in order to have the experience of looking back with a sentimental longing, of remembering some “good old days.”
I think it comes naturally to us as human beings. I don’t believe that every yesterday is better than every tomorrow, but I do think that it is part of our nature to sentimentally long for former times. Perhaps that was an instinct the human race acquired when our first parents were evicted from Eden. Perhaps it has been part of our emotional DNA ever since. To long for better days gone by.
If you’ve found yourself in a group of people who share a common past, you know the group dynamics of reminiscing. The memories, the stories, and the laughter. Recently at the memorial service for my mom, I watched and listen to three couples recount, with tears in their eyes from laughing so hard, the story of getting lost on a road trip one winter night so many years ago. It wasn’t an extraordinary event, not a wedding or the birth of a baby, but it was a simple slice of life from a friendship of many years, and the mere recollection and retelling of it was full of fondness and joy.
There is, a bittersweet quality that comes with the remembering and reminiscing. In our revisiting of the past, we are forced to recognize the people that are gone and the circumstances that have changed with the passage of time.
How many times have you recently heard the phrase, “I can’t wait till things get back to normal”, or “ remember when we didn’t have to wear masks “, during this pandemic? Bonne often tells others that I have “selective memory “,maybe that was selective hearing. I can’t seem to remember.
The nature of memory often softens, or completely excerpt, the difficulties of a time and place in the past, highlighting only what was beautiful and precious then and there.
You and I are accustomed to the “before” and “after” pictures, especially,since we all seem to have cell phones. We post them on Facebook or send them to our friends. We’ve all seen photos of the same person before and after a certain diet, photos of a room before and after some redecorating project, photos of an individual before and after some radical makeover. All of those before and after photos track a certain kind of improvement.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have also seen and been moved by photos of a neighborhood before and after a tornado, or photos of an entire city before and after a hurricane. These photographs record loss and devastation.
The pictures we are not so conscious of , though we all have them ,are not the “before and after” variety, but rather the “during and after” pictures. This, you see, is the stuff of memory. How does a time, a place, or an experience look to us in the present,that is, “during” our time there? And, by contrast, how does that time, place, or experience look to us sometime in the future,after our time there? It seems we are sentimental slaves to those memories. We remember the good times but not to what brought us there.
The message I have titled ;

“ Sentimental Slaves”

Let’s adjust our picture of reminiscences just a bit. Imagine friends who are remembering fondly a time gone by, their version of “the good old days.” They can’t say with certainty which year was best, for they were all so good. Then rewind the tape and discover the lost era for which they long.
It’s not the happy days of high school or the vibrant years of college. It is not the simple, early days of marriage or the fun and fast years when the kids were young. No, these friends are among the children of Israel, and the place about which they are feeling nostalgic is none other than Egypt. Egypt! A place where they had served as slaves. Ah, the difference between the “during” and the “after” pictures.
For hundreds of years, the descendants of Jacob had been oppressed foreigners within the land of Egypt. For generations, they had called out to the Lord for deliverance. Their bondage was cruel. Their labor coerced. And they longed for God to fulfill the promise he had made to their ancestors, delivering them out of their slavery and leading them to the promised land.
While they were still in chains; while they labored in the mud; while being watched and whipped by some cruel taskmaster, ask a Hebrew slave where he would like to be one year hence. And he will answer, “Anywhere but here!”
Less than one year later, he and his fellow Israelites are free. They are en route from the land of their bondage to the land of God’s promise. The journey, however, includes miles of wilderness, and the people are feeling the pangs of hunger. As they sit and talk together, they say, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread.”
In the end, this episode from Israel’s exodus experience becomes a story of God’s abundant and miraculous provisions for his people. For their attitude, they probably deserved punishment, but God taught them a lesson in a different way, overwhelming them with his gracious supply.
For our purposes today, though, I want us to consider the trap into which God’s people had fallen. “If only,” they said longingly. “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread.”What’s wrong with our memories that we should long for Egypt?
To daydream, however unrealistically, about a place we have never been is somewhat excusable. To fancy that the “someday” future will be infinitely better than the present may be delusional, yet it is at least understandable. But how can we justify our hazy picture of a place where we’ve been? How can we be sentimental about our slavery?
This foolishness, you see, is not quarantined with Israel in the wilderness. It is a unpleasant part of our human condition. While you and I have not left Egypt behind, we have been delivered from slavery when we accepted Christ as our savior.
Jesus and Paul both speak of sin as slavery in our scriptures. Jesus states in John 8:34,”I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin”. Paul reminds us inRomans 6:16,” Don’t you know that when you offer your selves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey, whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness”. That is the bondage from which the Lord endeavors to set us free. And that is where you and I run the risk of becoming sentimental slaves.
Peter quotes a proverb to identify the problem: “Of them the proverbs are true:”The dog turns back to its own vomit,”and, “The sow is washed only to wallow in the mud.” (2 Peter 2:22).
Lot’s wife may be the poster child for this tragic flaw. In Genesis 19 we learn.The stench of Sodom and Gomorrah’s wickedness was so great that it evoked a rare and apocalyptic sort of judgment from God. Before the catastrophe hit, however, Lot and his family were forcefully rescued by angels. And yet, as they fled from the place (which perhaps they ought to have left voluntarily years before), Lot’s wife looked back, and it proved fatal.
Why look back to a place like that? To Sodom. To Egypt. When God has delivered you, and his best plan for you is ahead rather than behind: Why look back?
 Perhaps because it’s home. Sodom had become home to Lot and his family. Egypt was home to those Israelite slaves. And we always tend to be sentimental about home.
For us today, we must remember that, at some level, sin is home for us. That is to say, we were born and raised in it. It’s where we come from.
When the Jews sit down each year to eat their Passover meal, they include bitter herbs, which symbolize the bitterness of their bondage. That’s an important reminder to build into the Passover menu, lest the people’s memory grows hazy, and the recollection of Egypt tastes more like fleshpots and bread than bitter herbs.
When Moses said his farewell to the children of Israel in the book of Deuteronomy, one of his great recurring exhortations was, “Remember!” He understood that memory would be key to the people’s faith and faithfulness.
And so it is for us, too. We must not let a little discouragement, a little challenge, a little difficulty in our journey send us scurrying back to some memory,some illusion of a smorgasbord back in Egypt. Instead, let me ask you to do a little remembering today: to remember clearly the bitterness, the bondage, and the ultimate emptiness of sin.
God provided manna for those hungry souls in the wilderness. A jar of it was kept in the Ark of the Covenant as a constant reminder of God’s faithful provision. He responds to the needs of his people, and he shows that he can meet our needs even in the most inhospitable and improbable environments. And in the end, that manna was the foretaste of the real “bread from heaven”: the ultimate provision for all sin-sick souls.
In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen to Audio: Service Sept20
Listen to Audio: Sermon 20200920


Pastor Joe is available at the church every Thursday 2-4pm if you need to speak with him. Contact Numbers: 570-465-7303 or his cell 570-267-4570


Loose Change Offering, (coins & bills), today goes to Kenya,  Rev. Malaho.

Sunday School begins at 8:30 – please join us! Weekly notes about the upcoming lesson will appear on your email.

Session meets Tuesday, September, 22 at 10:00am.

Messenger deadline is Tuesday, Sept. 29.

Mel Hart’s Celebration of Life Sept. 26 at 11. If staying for meal, please let Bonne know TODAY either in person, phone or text:  570-557-1333

Meadow View residents were joyful over the banner and mailbox that Gwenn made. The banner was hung over the nurses’ station.

They clapped and cheered when they saw all the cards…..so, please

continue to bring cards in for the mail box – when full, they will be delivered.

PLEASE NOTE: We ask that you wear a mask as you ENTER the church and as you EXIT. To EXIT, please use the Front, Side, EXIT DOOR. Thank you. Members of Session.


There is a Blessing Box by the EXIT Door with items to take as needed or share if you can.

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