Rev. Peter A. Brown
God’s Church at Wakefield,
According to Amazon, in a report on favorite passages of favorite books, the most commonly “highlighted” part of the Bible is Philippians 4: 6-7 (“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”)
That seems to be an especially appropriate passage for our church right now. I have been here since 1991, and Donna Burns has been here since 1983 (officially coming on staff five years later), and we both have recently announced that we are planning to retire next summer. Some of you have expressed a bit of anxiety about the church’s future with two long-tenured staff people leaving. That’s flattering but, honestly, there’s no need to worry. God certainly isn’t leaving!
Remember the scene in Exodus 17: 1-7 when God made water come out of the rock for the Israelites to drink? They were wandering in the desert, without water, which is a good reason to be anxious. But they had forgotten the many miracles that God had done for them, several of them involving water. Robert J. Morgan notes:
Moses had been saved from death by God’s protecting him in his basket in the river Nile in Exodus 2.
Moses had turned the waters of the Nile to blood in Exodus 7.
The Lord had parted the waters of the Red Sea in Exodus 14.
He had purified contaminated water for them in Exodus 15.
Now He provided water out of the rock in Exodus 17. But Moses called the place Massah (Testing) and Meribah (Quarreling) ‘because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” ’ (v. 7). The presence of God was very evident, in the words He spoke, in the miracles He did, and in His visual presence in the pillar of fire and cloud. Yet at a moment of crisis, they said, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’
Morgan concludes: “There we have one of the best definitions of worry in the Bible. Worry is questioning whether God is really among us (Exodus 17:7). After all He has done, after all the needs He has met, after all the provisions He had made, after all the prayers He has answered, worry says, ‘Is the Lord really among us or not?’ ”*
The question answers itself. Of course the Lord is among us! It’s His Church—His very Body—and He’s the Head. The Head surely won’t leave the Body behind! So, if anxieties ever arise, just ask yourself: “Is the Lord among us or not?”
Doesn’t that feel better?
Yours in faith and trust,
(Rev.) Peter A. Brown