Pr. Jessica's Weekly Message - 3/3/21
God spoke all these words:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:1-3
Dear Friends in Christ,
Here are the links you need for this week:
Here is a link to a daily Lenten devotional which I have compiled and prepared for you. I hope you will use it in ways that are helpful and life-giving to you. I am also posting the daily devotions on the church’s Facebook page.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS ON WEDNESDAY EVENINGS IN LENT, TONIGHT, 3/3 @ 7:00PM:
THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT, 3/7/21
Zoom Worship @ 10:15: https://zoom.us/j/2445459917
Worship can also be streamed via the Facebook link above, at 10:15.
The bulletin for Sunday is attached below.
Communion will be available in the parking lot after the liturgy.
SPECIAL NOTE: Lay Leaders: · Please check this schedule every week: Lay Leadership Schedule. If you cannot fulfill your role on any given week, please contact Nathan. Thank you!
Would you like to join our Lay Leadership Team we are always looking for new Readers, Assisting Ministers, and a representative to speak for the voice of the people each week. If so, please contact our Director of Online Worship, Nathan Johnson, by texting or calling 201.936.5809, or by pressing 'Reply All' to this email.
ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS, 3/7, 9AM, led by Jan Gallagher. The study and discussion will focus on the Bible readings for worship that day. https://zoom.us/j/91450636582?pwd=MSt6bm9VbWozMWJtbGZQUHNhT1lWUT09
JERSEY CITY TOGETHER
We have launched a new listening campaign within our congregations and communities, to learn about what is most important to focus on in the coming months. As part of the listening campaign, would you be willing to fill out this Google form to share what is most important to you? Feel free to share it with your neighbors and friends all over Jersey City. https://forms.gle/RsAkrBGnKvTbVeYG8
If everyone personally invites between 1 and 5 people to fill it out, we will have a broad and wide set of responses. Thank you!
You are also invited to attend an important virtual action on March 11th at 7:30PM, led by the Education Team around the public education funding crisis in Jersey City. It would be great to have 3-5 members from St. Paul’s in attendance. Let me know if you can attend, or just register for the action by clicking here.
PBS DOCUMENTARY: The Black Church: This is Our Story. This is Our Song.
I spoke about this 4-part documentary in my sermon last Sunday. Here is the link to stream it and learn more about it: https://www.pbs.org/weta/black-church/
The covenant we will hear about this coming Sunday encompasses the Ten Commandments, given by God through Moses to the Hebrew people shortly after they were liberated from slavery in Egypt. God acts quickly to do something new, to create a people and a way of life that is not only different than their previous life under Pharaoh, but a fierce rebuttal to it. It is the inverse of their life in Egypt, where they served, by violent force, a human leader who fashioned himself into a god; where they were entirely dependent for life and the basics that sustain life on that tyrannical ruler whose goal was greater and greater productivity, which would lead to greater riches, glory and power. Their whole lives were trained toward his whimsy, his economy of accumulation, his dictates. They were mere cogs in the machine, which could never stop churning, never stop producing. Their humanity was never a thought, except insofar as Pharaoh saw how numerous and prosperous they were becoming before he enslaved them. They were a threat, and so he eliminated the threat through violent control.
God heard the cries of the Hebrew people, and orchestrated a dramatic escape and deliverance from their slavery, through the Red Sea and into the wilderness. Then God created a new community, beginning with ten commandments that were to give shape, life and rhythm to this new people. The rhythm is worship, work, community and rest; worship, work, community and rest... It all hangs on one commandment, the first one: “You shall have no other gods before me.” That one commandment is the core of the other nine, and everything else involved in the relationship between God and God’s people. If the First Commandment doesn’t stick, the whole thing falls apart. It’s also the hardest, which you already know, and for sure God knows this too. Our gods are many- whatever it is we turn to for the “good.” It could be food or alcohol, family, work, self-help programs, money, social media, activism, our good works- the list is endless. Remember that shortly after being given the Ten Commandments, Moses goes up the mountain to converse with God and the people become scared that he’ll never come back and they make a golden calf to be their god. They want something tangible and present. So do we.
At the right time, God sent Jesus, tangible and present in the flesh and tangible and present now through God’s Word and the sacraments, through our mutual love and care, through the Holy Spirit. The commandment still applies. We are to have no other gods, no other source of life, strength, hope and faith. Jesus was and is the fulfillment of all of God’s promises and commandments. We can never be perfect, but he was and is perfect for us. In him, and because of his faithfulness, we are saved. It’s foolishness, as St. Paul says. Foolishness! It’s utterly ridiculous that a Messiah would come and die, become a nobody according to the world, and suffer such humiliation. But that foolishness is our saving grace, and that’s so much better, so much more life-giving, so much worthier of our devotion, than a golden calf, or anything else we could dream up.