Text: Genesis 45: 14-15 + Matthew 15: 25, 28
This year, when ASP teams returned with stories we wait to hear, they reported that their evening devotional time set the focus for each day and for their report back to us.
Each evening they were asked to reflect and think of what they could call a “God Moment” they had experienced during day. That devotional discipline prompted the invitation to share our own “God Moment” stories, and use a sampling as the sermon for today when the Scripture lessons start us off with two examples:
the Old Testament story of Joseph’s horrible experience, brought on by his jealous brothers, turned into a happy ending story that we just heard:
Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.
A “God Moment” in the life of Joseph.
The second example is given in today’s Gospel:
the story of the persistent, desperate mother who:
…came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.
A “God Moment” in the life of a Canaanite woman.
Listen to a sampling of those moments given to be shared as this morning’s sermon:
Submitted : by Sharon Brinker:
I was in my early 30’s, reeling from a series of emotional traumas. Dad had died earlier and my marriage had gone sour.
Mom, temporarily stable on her medications for mental illness, was helping me with my son. My astronaut brother was killed in a plane crash. A year later my son was accidentally killed out-of-state when his father abducted him.
The delinquent teens I was working with at the time held me together after the deaths, keeping me busy and focused outside myself.
I returned to hospital nursing and was working nights in a surgical unit in a general hospital. One of the patients was a young man paralyzed neck down from a car accident, who had just come out of the intensive care unit. I had spent a lot of time with him as nights were difficult. He would wake up, unable to move, disoriented, alone, afraid. On this last morning on this unit (I was transferred to another unit) he had his mother bring me a red rose in a bud vase as a thank you.
While driving home I witnessed a spectacular sunrise which seemed to say “What a great world!”
And there was a jar of homemade soup at my door, from a friend.
These three things (rose, sunrise, soup) told me God loved me.
Submitted by Cindy Golden:
I’ve always found pleasure in simple things shared by my family; walks in the woods, sitting at a campfire, family picnics and playing card games around the kitchen table.
Growing up, my family took road trips with a popup camper in tow. We spent weeks on the road, stopping at national parks and enjoying the beauty of nature. God was with us on those trips, helping us understand that the world beyond our hometown had much to offer if we only took the time to embrace it.
One trip took us to Mesa Verde, Colorado, which boasts beautiful cliffs with ancient dwellings built into the alcoves in the sides of those cliffs. Even with all the tourists bustling around, I felt a sense of peace and oneness with those that had passed this way before. God gave my heart a message of deep spirituality and faith in a higher power. I almost felt like I had walked this land before and it gave me joy to be among the ruins and look out over the landscape seeing life as it was long ago.
We have since taken our own children to this place and other places across the country so that they understand the pleasure of stepping outside their own environment and to appreciate the beauty that we have at our fingertips. Because we live such busy lives, we may not often stop to appreciate the simple things. I find that it’s in the quiet moments, away from the pressures of our daily lives, that God speaks to me.
Submitted by Rev. Howard Kriebel:
Cindy’s vacation time of quiet moments and simple things that become ways God speaks to us, happened for me early last Saturday morning when, at six AM, I left our motel outside Huntington, PA to walk over the bridge into the town. A young Japanese man was standing there, fishing from the bridge and his bike was near him, leaning against the railing on the fence. I stopped to talk with him but realized he did not speak English, so we had a delightful “conversation” with hand motions and facial expressions.
As I walked on, I happened to look down and saw a man fishing from the bank of the river.
When I returned from town I noticed the Japanese fisherman’s bike was still on the bridge by the fence. Then I looked down and saw he was on the river bank, watching as the man pulled in an 18” Bass, unhooked it and then gave it to the Japanese man who walked away with a smile that covered his face.
And I thought of those fishermen-disciples who heard Jesus say, “Love one another as I have loved you.” and of the fish – the sign Christians used in the early days of persecution as a code word to identify themselves to one another.
On a six am Saturday morning walk, a sight by the river in Huntington, PA, became a “God Moment.”
Submitted by Amy Golden -
Weeks at ASP are almost guaranteed to be filled with God Moments. Here is my favorite from my 7 summers attending ASP. ASP 2011 sent me to Wyoming County, WV to work on a bathroom for a family of three. There was a Mom, Step Father, and an adult son named Ricky who had special needs. Mom was very open about her life and the things she experienced. She told us the story about when she had Ricky, and how she knew something was wrong. As he grew up, he never developed the ability to walk or talk. After a while, she sent him away to get help. When he returned, he could both walk and talk. She called it a miracle.
I listened to her story, but remained unconvinced. How could someone learn to walk and talk who hadn’t been able to for years and years? What happened when he went away, and where did he go? How is this possible? These questions stayed with me all week and I came to the conclusion that there was no way this could have happened.
On Friday morning, I was getting ready for our final day and wondering if we would finish our bathroom project. As I was walking down the hall of our center, a poster caught my eye. ASP staff fills the hallway with inspirational quotes and Bible verses, so I was surprised when I noticed this one in particular. It read Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Immediately I was struck: this was my major God Moment of the week. I did not need to analyze and criticize this woman’s story. I needed to just believe that God had the ability to change Ricky’s life. This Moment has stayed with me since then, and helps remind me that I do not need an explanation for everything in life; I just need to have faith.
A seminary professor told his class of future preachers that the best sermon is one that prompts listeners to expand a word, a line, a thought they just heard, into their own ongoing sermon.
By that standard, this may be one of the best sermons, because it is intended to be carried forward in the “God Moments” you, the listeners and readers, will experience…and hopefully share in daily conversations.
“God Moments” that when told to us or told by us give us the faith to sing: “God will take care of you.” (The hymn that follows the sermon.)