Worship on the Lord’s Day
Third Sunday after Epiphany
10:00 am, 22 January 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering
as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Darlene Eerkes and Fionna McCrostie
Children’s time: Fionna
Service Material prepared by the Rev. Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia Vocalists: Sam & Ann May Malayang
Elder: Gina Kottke
We gather to worship God
L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
P: and also with you.
Lighting of the Christ candle
Welcome and announcements
Silent preparation for worship
Call to Worship
L: O God, our light and our salvation, shelter us in your love.
P: O God, our stronghold, protect us from danger.
L: We come with shouts of joy to worship you this day.
P: We come with song and music to celebrate your love.
L: We come with longing to seek your presence.
P: Be with us now, O God, as we sing your praises. Amen.
Opening praise: O come to the alter
Prayers of approach and confession
Our Holy God, You give us so much.
You surround us with good things. You fill our lives with meaning and families and friends. You provide for our every need and by the sacrifice of your son you prove that your grace abounds, and your love has no limits to which you will not go.
But as perfect as you are, we, who call ourselves Yours, are just as imperfect as ever.
Lord, we have spent too much time worrying about our work and not enough time being thankful to be employed.
We spend too much time worrying about money when compassion should be our currency.
We have eaten meals and taken too much and tossed out food wastefully when we know that others are literally starving. We’ve considered it normal.
We’ve said things we didn’t mean, or things we meant only momentarily without any real considerations.
We have hurt people we claim to love. And other we don’t love but shove try harder too.
We have made assumptions and judged others wrongly.
We have fought and forgotten that sometimes peace with each other is better than being right.
We have neglected to read your written word and we prayed for self, more than for those who need it most.
We have strayed from the right things to do sometimes on purpose because it was just easier, sometimes on accident because we just weren’t thinking. Yet in all of them, you already offered your sacrifice on our behalf. You already secured our forgiveness. The price paid for each one paid long ago on a cross. And so lastly Lord we these two words: “Thank you”. Amen.
Gradual: We come to ask Your forgiveness, O Lord
Assurance of God’s forgiveness
The Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ died on the cross innocent of any wrongs, taking away the sins of the world as a perfect and eternal sacrifice. Our sins are not our own. They were nailed to the cross with Christ. We are forgiven in Him. Now let His light shine in and though you for all the world to see. Amen.
We listen for the voice of God
Gradual: Jesus loves me (373)
Story: God chooses us first
Who here has played dodge ball?
I have. I remember when I was your age, I had a really hard day at school, one day, because I got picked last for Dodge Ball.
They would pick 2 team leaders and the 2 team leaders got to pick who was on their team. They still do that.
I used to get picked pretty early, since I was pretty good at catching the ball. (I like to be the goalie in soccer.)
But everyone found out that I have trouble paying attention when more than one ball is flying at me. I just freeze. So it was actually pretty easy to get me out.
So after the other kids realized that, I got chosen last, which hurt my feelings.
But I remembered something very important.
We are chosen first by God. We are God’s favorites.
God picks us first every time.
That might not work in dodgeball, but it does in the kingdom of heaven.
You are God’s favorite, and I’m God’s favorite.
The Bible says that we are God’s special possessions, and that he has called us to shine His light in this dark world.
So let’s never forget that we are chosen by God.
Perhaps the light Jesus sheds on our world can help us to see things the way God sees them, so we can celebrate everyone.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for choosing us first. Thank you for choosing your light on us. And help us to shine your light on us, and help us to shine your light on others, and help us to shine your light on others in your name.
Song: Holy, Holy, Holy (623)
Scripture reading: Exodus 34:29-35
Transition Music: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
Message: The Copper Kettle
General Charles Krulak wrote this as the introduction to his opening prayer at Wheaton College in October of 2000. It was the first time he had spoken of the incident publicly.
“25 years ago, I was a young second lieutenant who is just married after graduating from the Naval Academy. My wife and I went down to Quantico, Virginia, home of the school where officers learn about honor and courage and commitment. I shared my room with another married officer, John Listerman, who was a Christian. That meant basically nothing to me at the time except that John seemed a nice fellow. Because of John, I guess, all of this Christian stuff seems pretty good, not because I knew much about it, but because of what I knew of John.
“After graduating from basic training, John and I went to Camp Pendleton, California, where we joined the same battalion preparing to go to Vietnam. I saw John Listerman as a tremendous leader who was technically proficient in a way I had never seen before. What’s more, the men loved him. He was committed to his troops, and they knew it. He was what we call a Marine’s Marine. He was what we all aspired to be.
“In December 1965, John and I finally made it into the war zone. John Listerman’s war, however, lasted only 13 hours. While on our first patrol moving through the jungle, we came around a corner in the trail and ran into an ambush. John took a 50 caliber round to his left kneecap which exploded immediately. He fell on the ground in absolute agony. A second round hit him at the base of his heart and then exited from his side. I too was wounded but only barely. As the men backed out, I crawled forward about 30 meters to the front of the line to find John; to see if I could perhaps offer him a tube of morphine. But before I could say anything he saw me and he asked, ‘Are you okay.’ And then louder and more afraid, ‘Are you okay?’
“I didn’t know what to say and so I just said ‘yes.’ He continued without breaking asking ‘Are my men ok Chuck?… are they okay, are they safe now?’
“Again, I simply gave him the truth as quickly as I possibly could – they were in fact okay (we were the only two injured and I not that badly).
“As soon as he was sure his men were all right, he exhaled a huge sigh of relief, and a giant smile came across his face as he looked up into the sky and said the words that I will never forget. Bleeding from a hole in his side, still in danger of death with one leg left he said, ‘thank you Lord.’ ‘Thank you for caring for me my whole life through.’ ‘And thank you now for making me first in line around the corner.’ At that moment I (Charles Krulak) knew little of Christ, but I knew John, and so I knew too, that like him, I would also be a Christian.” (1001 Ill, pg75)
In the reading from Exodus, we have this strange scene. It is actually the second time Moses has come down from Mt. Sanai with the tablets of the Ten Commandments. These are the replacements for the first set; Moses broke physically in response to people’s breaking of the first two literally as they bowed down before the golden calf.
Now in the story it says that the glory of God reflected upon Moses’ face after meeting with the Lord. And the way it is put has confused and confounded people for years. On a plain English reading it says clearly that Moses had an encounter with God and as a result of that, his face physically glowed with light. If you have ever seen a religious painting or a picture of an angel, that is what the Halo around their heads is supposed to be depicting. It’s supposed to be an emanating light from someone who has had an encountered God.
Now the Hebrew words here are really and oddly specific. It says that it is the actual skin of Moses’ face that glows and that it shone with Karen “radiance” or “rays of light.”
Now in an odd twist of fate this verse was translated from Hebrew and into Latin for the Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible that the Catholic Church deemed to be a perfect translation. This was the only official translation of scripture that they allowed to exist. In fact, many early protestant leaders were executed because they chose to translate the Bible into English or French or German. That was a serious crime you see, because God (they said) had already handed down to the Holy Roman Church a perfect edition.
But here is one big problem with that. When this verse about Moses was translated into Latin, the translator took the very literal meaning of karan (for “rays of light”). And the exact word for word of that in Latin, which would be “and his skin grew horns”.
See the phrase kanan was a figurative description of the tops of the flickering flames (horns of light). And so, when the phrase was written in Latin it translated karan as “Moses’ face grew horns”.
Unfortunately, this “perfect” translation of this morning’s text, then led to the very rampant belief all throughout the Middle Ages (and especially in France) that Jews had horns. Interestingly if you have ever seen Michelangelo’s statue of Moses, you might recall seeing that his Moses has two short horns atop his head. So much for God’s perfect Latin translation. Luckily the Roman Catholic Church officials allowed another translation of this verse to be considered authoritative… after just 500 some years.
Now, a little closer to the source it might be worth nothing that in ancient Mesopotamian literature there was a concept called “fearless radiance” which suggests that after meeting a deity a person would shine with light and so have to hide their face. Thus, certain religious priests wore special masks while meeting their gods. Because of this, some have suggested that this portion of the story exists as a form of anti-myth polemic… which is a fancy of to say, “an insult”. See if the other traditions in the Sanai area used masks in cultic worship in order to hide their faces as proof that they had met with God, the God of the Hebrews would prove their God better by making Moses’ actual face glow with a shockingly bright light for all to see as proof that Moses had truly met the divine.
Some see this story as a very powerful statement which was meant to say to the people, “God does not want statues of animals or people behind masks to represent his glory but rather… otherwise ordinary human beings are to show God’s glory in how they live out the commandments God has given.
In his Commentary Dr. John Durham sates that nobody really knows the answer to the question of what’s going on here or how literal it is intended to be taken. He says, “In fact, we simply do not have enough information to enable us to form any clear understanding of what is meant by the use of קרן (karan) to describe what happened to the skin of Moses’ face as a result of his close communion with Yahweh (the LORD), but the key must certainly lie in Yahweh (the LORD) and not in Moses… It is at least possible that קרן (karan) was deliberately used [rather than [the much more common] הֹאִיר (ha’ur) “shine, give light,”…, because the narrator intended to suggest a light that was separate from Moses’ own person, [something God did through him, not something that came from him.]
Now whether you see the karan of light God placed around Moses as an affront to masks or idols, as a true, literal and physical and miraculous glow or even if you think the very word for word rendering is true and Moses actually was growing horns, whether figurative or literal, whatever you think, the point is really unchanged. Moses comes down from his time with God having absorbed the brightness of Yahweh’s Presence and he is visibly different in some way because of that. He is changed! And people can see it!
In reference to Christ, the apostle Paul talks about this verse from Exodus. In 2 Cor. 3:16-18 he says, “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the mask is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, (with unmasked faces) contemplate the Lord’s glory, and are being transfigured into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”.
The Message Bible puts it like this, “and so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.”
The problem is we aren’t always very good at it. I’m not very good at it at least.
W. Tozer once said, “I’m afraid we modern Christians are long on talk and short on conduct. We use the language of power, but our deeds are the deeds of weakness. We settle for words in religion because deeds are too costly. It is easier to pray, “Lord, help me to carry my cross daily” than to pick it up and carry it; but since the mere request for help to do something we do not actually intend to do has a certain degree of religious comfort, we are content with repetition of the words.” (https://quotefancy.com/quote/1446687/Aiden-Wilson-Tozer-We-modern-Christians-are-long-on-talk-and-short-on-conduct)
But it doesn’t have to be that way. And it shouldn’t
I have just one more story:
A well-known Bible teacher has just finished speaking to a large class of businesspeople on the Christians’ responsibility to be light in the world. He had emphasized the as believers we all have the obligation to reflect the Light in the world, the Lord Jesus.
After the class, one of the members related to him an experience he had in his home that impressed upon him the same truth. He said that in the darkest corner of his basement he had made a surprising discovery. Some potatoes in that darkest corner had sprouted and were growing. At first, he could not figure how they had gotten enough light to sprout and grow. Then he noticed that hanging from the ceiling on a row of hooks, not terribly far away from the basement window was a shiny copper kettle his wife rarely used. It was brightly polished, and it was in the perfect position to reflect the sun’s rays onto the potatoes in that darkest corner of the room.
At that point the man relating the story paused, and he leaned in close and pointedly said, “When I saw that, I thought, I may not be some great preacher. I may not be a gifted teacher of the Word, I may not read my Bible enough, or have lots of spiritual conversations. I may not even be the greatest Christian all the time. But I can be a copper kettle catching the rays of the S>O>N and reflecting them from time to time, into someone’s dark corner of the world.
I don’t know exactly what happened to Moses. And I sort of don’t care really. The message is unchanged. Whatever it was, people saw him differently. They knew he had a true encounter with God and his light made that clear.
Not everyone is Billy Graham. Not everyone is Moses. You may not reach thousands with the light of Christ. That’s okay, likely neither will I.
But like Lieutenant John Listerman we can share the light of Christ.
I guess what I’m saying is… Go be copper kettle and help grow a few potatoes. Amen.
Song: Jesus bids us shine (773)
We respond to serve God
Reflection on giving: We have been giving faithfully since the beginning of the pandemic and we are committed to continuing the ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the ways described below. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission.
Prayer of gratitude: We marvel at the wonders of your love.
You bless us with your presence and wisdom.
You created a beautiful world that reveals your majesty.
Your Holy Spirit guides us, and you sent your son to show us how to live with compassion.
We thank you that you open our eyes to your presence with us each day. Help us to look for you not only in mountaintop experiences but also in the everyday tasks of life.
Prayer for others and ourselves
Loving God, there is much in this world that needs the transformation only your light can provide.
Where there is violence, instill your peace. where there is poverty, send your sustenance. where there is confusion, bring wisdom, where there is chaos, bring order.
Transfigure the hearts of the rich to share, the wills of the powerful to act with justice.
Where minds and hearts are troubled bring your comfort, where pain is crippling grant release. Hear the cries of all who suffer and fill them with the hope of new life with you.
Eternal God, we pray that your glory would fill your church and give to your people everywhere the energy to shine wherever there is darkness, persecution and despair. And we pray for the congregations of this Presbytery, this Synod, this Church. Bless them with wisdom and strength.
Give us all, a greater love of your holiness, a greater delight in your mystery, and a greater joy in seeking your presence.
We ask these things through Christ Jesus, who revealed your will to us, who taught us your revolutionary love,
Song: Lord, the light of Your live is shining (376)
Sending out with God’s blessing: And now as we leave these walls behind and enter into the mission field God has put before us, let us bring our hope and peace to everyone we meet. And May God’s grace be and abide with you and those whom you love, both now and forever.
Response: The Blessing
Numbers in brackets after a song/hymn indicate that it is from the 1997 Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Those and other songs are being used in accordance with the specifications of Dayspring licensing with One Licence (3095377) and CLC (A735555).
The Rev. Brad Childs retains the copyright (© 2022) on all original material presented by him. As far as Brad Childs is aware, all of the material presented that has not been attributed to others is his own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.