In our Bible studies this week we will be reading Numbers (aka “In the Wilderness”) chapter eleven which begins, “There came a time when the people complained to the Lord.” A few verses later we learn that they are saying things like, “In Egypt we had fish for the asking.”
Like our spiritual ancesestors in the wilderness, we are often quick to complain. We complain about the weather. We complain about the waitstaff at restaurants. We complain about our pothole filled roadways. We complain about the preacher on Sunday.
In the book of Exodus, after the people have built a Golden Calf, the Holy One wonders if this obstinate people should simply be destroyed and refers to them as a “stiff-necked people.” Moses pleads that the people not be destroyed and prays, “Stay among us for we are indeed a stiff-necked people.”
Over the centuries interpreters of this text have argued about the meaning of Moses’ prayer. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks suggests that what Moses means is, “Almighty God, look upon this people with favor because what is now their greatest vice, will one day be their most heroic virtue. They are indeed an obstinate people…They are now stiff-necked in their disobedience, so one day they will be equally stiff-necked in their loyalty.”
I like Rabbis Sacks’ interpretation. It offers the hope that we can change, improve and grow. It expresses the vision that what is irritating today might tomorrow, with the grace of God, become inspiring. It offers the promise that we are not yet what we shall be.
Come study with us.
Prayers of the Congregation
All who are grieving, The people of Haiti, the people of Venezuela, the people of Nigeria, Amber and Aries (discernment), Don Dresser (health), Jamie Reid (health), Cynthia Nelson (health), Cecil White (health), Sandra Dunn (health), Gloria and Phil for June, Billy, Jane, Tiffany, Alfonso, Linda and granddaughter Arielle (health), Mary Karne for daughter Maryla (health), Rafael Soto for his work colleagues and for the people of Puerto Rico, Julio Cash for his mother, the homeless residents of the Bay Area, all our students, teachers and school employees, all our young adults, Margaret Oladoja, thanksgiving for the LABC office staff and volunteers, Bjoe Morris (health), Jeanne Robinson for her sister-in-law Laurlee, Dale Edmondson for his family, Christopher Thom, Rita Jennings (health), John and Laura (health) Landgraf, Al Johnson and Roy Browner, Lloyd Scott, a fair contract for OUSD teachers, Brian Byamukama, Jesse Lucas, Sydney Webster (work demands), Father Mike Mautner (St. Peter’s Episcopal) for his mother, Carole Lee for her husband Henry, Toni Daniels, Alice Butler for her sister Pat Miles (health), Maya Hart for her family, Clyde Sotomey (health), George Harper for his brother Otis (health), Myra Saxton for the Avery family, John Lee for his sister Cordia, Marian Ott for Mary Mann Ellen’s family as they mourn, John and Carol Townsend (health), Sandra and George Lee as they mourn the death of Howard, the husband of cousin and niece Lydia, Father Aidan M. for the health of his religious tradition, Barbara Bowman, The United Methodist Church in a time of decision-making that will greatly affect their GLBT members and their families, Carol Leichter for her son Joey and her brother Tom
Thanks to all who made our annual celebration of African-American History Month so meaningful. There is much to look forward to as we celebrate Women’s History Month in March! Pastor Tanner will preach this Sunday and the Lord’s Supper will be observed.
Please note – March 24th Schedule Change
Because of the traffic and parking problems associated with the Oakland Running Festival, our worship service on March 24th will be at 1:00 p.m.. There will be a Pause Service on Saturday evening the 23rd from 6:00-8:00 p.m.