Simon’s Says

“Starting With Scripture” is a weekly email I receive from the UCC every Monday morning; it is a reflection on a recent or upcoming Lectionary reading for pastors looking for inspiration for their Sunday sermon.  Last Monday morning I opened the email and was greeted by this wonderful consideration of Exodus 17.1-7, written by our own erstwhile pastor The Rev. Kathy Peters.  I thought you’d enjoy reading it; the title is, Is God Among Us Or Not?

  Are we there yet? I'm hungry! I'm thirsty! She's touching me! He's looking at me funny! Any parent (or childhood memory!) knows that the cliche is true: road trips are hard. Even with iPads and movie screens in our vehicles, the whining comes.

  Moses and God knew whining and boredom and distrust to the extreme during the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert. Even with the prospect of an exciting journey, the people/children soon want the assuredness of their known life; and the perils, uncertainty and discomfort of the road can become just too much. "It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” (Exodus 14:12b NRSVU) Back seat whining is usually a bit less dramatic, but the point is often the same. This trip is taking too long, it is too hard, and it is not going exactly as we want it to go.

  In our own life's journeys as well, how often are we tempted to whine to God and demand to know when we are going to get "there," is it all going to go according to our plan and why do we need to suffer so much uncertainty and discomfort! We too can be tempted to ask: are you with me God or not? And we like the Israelites, especially when things are not going our way, can tend to forget God's abundant care and all the times in our lives when God's loving presence was beyond evident.

  When this reflection is released, I will be on the Isle of Iona, Scotland, on my first ever pilgrimage. Our group's preparation has taught me that there is a difference between traveling and pilgrimage. Simply put, traveling often involves making sure one gets to and checks off all of the important sites on the journey (or on life's journey!). Pilgrimage focuses on the journey itself, letting go of trying to orchestrate/control the destination and most importantly a heightened openness to the presence of God in our very being. I often "travel" through life when I might be better served by leaning more towards "pilgrimage."

  A life's journey is hopefully a very long road trip with lots of travel sites as well as pilgrimage moments.

  Even if we do not "believe" in a micromanaging God, in moments of uncertainty and pain, we can call on our God to "make it all better." God knows that human part of us and hears that prayer. No prayer is wrong, yet the pilgrimage prayer song that echoes in my heart comes from the Rolling Stones: "You can't always get what you want. You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you'll find...You get what you need!"

  God is indeed among us always if we dare to be open and to trust that God walks with us always providing us with what we need.

Thank you for your thoughtful words, Kathy!

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United Church of Chester, 29 West Main Street, Chester, CT 06412. (860) 526-2697


From the North: Take CT Route 9 South to Exit 8 (old exit 6) (CT 148). Turn left; we are 1 mile on the right.


From the South: Take CT Route 9 North to Exit 8 (old exit 6) (CT 148). Turn Right; we are .8 miles on the right.

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