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Moses and the Golden Calf

 Welcome to our Service of Holy Communion

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We meet in the name of the Father,

and of the Son,

and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Song: How Great is our God

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDgmJFw6F64

Opening Prayer
Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

We Say Sorry to God
God our Father,
we come to you in sorrow for our sins.
For turning away from you,
and ignoring your will for our lives;
Father, forgive us:
All save us and help us.

For behaving just as we wish,
without thinking of you;
Father, forgive us:
All save us and help us.

For failing you by what we do,
and think and say;
Father, forgive us:
All save us and help us.

For letting ourselves be drawn away from you
by temptations in the world about us;
Father, forgive us:
All save us and help us.

For living as if we were ashamed
to belong to your Son;
Father, forgive us:
All save us and help us.

The Absolution
Almighty God,
who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you,
pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness,
and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

The Collect
God our judge and Saviour
teach us to be open to your truth
and to trust in your love,
that we may live each day
with confidence in the salvation
which is given
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Song Guide me O thou Great Redeemer


Old Testament Reading: Exodus 32: 1-14 read by Leonard

The Golden Calf

32 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods[a] who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods,[b] Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” 6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
7 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

9 “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’

14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
Song: Faithful One


Gospel Reading Matthew 22:1-14 read by Lin

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Sermon: The Golden Calf

God's Story

How often have we been given a set of instructions and tried to find some kind of loophole or a way of getting round following them. We have a very real and current example of this
And
These instructions are given to us to keep us and those around us safe.
The problem with this is when some follow these and some blatantly do not.
The result is as we all know- a pandemic of Covid-19 which has taken over our very way of life. No longer are we free to socialise as we once did, to work as we once did, to do church like we once did!

And much as this had brought out the creativity in some folk and a newly urgent sense of community and survival, it has also taken many many innocent lives. The cost of this pandemic to our NHS, is not in monetary terms, but in the lives of those dedicated to saving the lives of others and in doing so, have sacrificed their own.
The Israelites were in a similar pickle. They had a two-way promise with God- called a covenant. This promise was first made by God to Abraham, that as long as he followed God, his descendants’ would be a great nation- as numerous as the stars in the heavens. God restates this promise to his chosen people and promises to bless and care for them as long as the people promise to obey him.

The people were as a consequence, consecrated by Moses in order to set themselves apart from ordinary everyday life and dedicate themselves to God. In re-prioritising then they would now live their lives under and with God. However, this promise on the peoples’ side was already in danger as they soon forgot who had brought them out of Egypt.
So where are the Israelites now?

The Israelites had left Egypt 3 months ago and travelled through the desert- having been fed by quails and manna and watered by God, to God’s holy mountain- Mount Sinai. It is onto this mountain that God called Moses to meet with him and he made this promise to Israel…
If you obey my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Exodus 19.

Moses went back down the mountain and told the people this and re-consecrated them. Three days after this, Moses was summoned up the mountain again to talk with God and it was here- along with Aaron that Moses was given the 10 commandments.

At some point which is not quite clear, Aaron returned to the people, but Moses continued to stay up on the mountain as God was going through all the small print with him.
The giving of the 10 commandments is the first 17 verses of Exodus 20, the small print is from the end of chapter 20 up to the end of chapter 31- so it took a while.

The first and 2nd commandment are central to this Old Testament reading…of just how Israel got it so wrong.

1st Commandment- “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”
2nd “You shall not make yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” Ex. 20: 1-4

And still God elaborated further
You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: Do not make any gods to be alongside me, do not make gods of silver or gods of gold”. Ex. 20:22-23.


These two commandments are very clear- so why did the Israelites break them?

Their excuse was that they had waited a long time for Moses to come back down the mountain- he was there for 40 days and they needed “gods to go before them.”
For us that may seem just a little strange…
But Israel was surrounded by nations who did worship a variety of gods- a god for every occasion. We even have mention of this in the NT when Paul was in Athens when he addressed them

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you….” Acts 17.

And these so- called gods had idols made of them- so there was a solid object to see when worshipping. Although the Israelites had been called away- been chosen, by their God who was invisible, it must have been still difficult to be so counter-cultural.

Aaron was a more pliable leader than Moses and gave in to their demands. It was he who gathered all the gold and had it made it into the golden calf statue. He prepared an altar in front of it and proclaimed a festival of the Lord so that the people could make sacrifices to it.

God was furious with the people seeing how short their memories were in remembering all his good deeds and rescue from Egypt and how weak and flimsy their faith was.

The only thing the people had on their side- was Moses. And Moses was really a great leader.
Because Moses was quite clever as he argued for their survival- not so much for God’s love of his people, but instead turned the argument round to what others would think of God, if he were to destroy his chosen nation. What of his promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? And so God relented and disaster was averted.

So, what does this tell us about God in this reading?
It tells us that God wants our love and worship to be pure and whole-hearted. We must not let other things get in the way of worship to him.
It tells us that God listens and God can change his mind-even when all seems lost.
It tells us that God has a lot of patience.
It tells us that God is a forgiving God.

What does it tell us about the people in the story?
Even with the extraordinary events of the Exodus, it didn’t take much to wobble their faith. Moses had only been gone 40 days and nights and already they were turning away from God.
They could be easily influenced by the cultures around them and found it hard to be counter-cultural.
That although Moses thought himself to be less eloquent than Aaron, it turned out that it was Moses who was the better spokesperson on behalf of Israel.
Through experience and courage at speaking up to Pharaoh, Moses found the courage to speak up to God on the peoples’ behalf.

It is easy to criticise these folk who seem to turn so quickly away from God, but the practice of faith- communicating with God was different to how we do it today. God spoke to his prophet and the prophet spoke to the people. The people moaned about God to the prophet and the prophet took these moans back to God.
Their prophet was Moses. Perhaps with him gone so long they felt isolated from God -they couldn’t speak with him.

What does it tell us about ourselves?
We too can be bad at following rules even when they are made for our own good
That we too can be influenced by other socially controlling factors- like money, status, and power. Do we make these gods that we work for, for the benefits they bring?
That we must consider how we worship God and why. Do we try to make him fit into our ideal of a God rather than who he really is?
Worship and in fact love of God must be based on the right perspective of God.

So how did this story end…What Moses did next!





And then it got much much worse…which you can read for yourselves in
Exodus 32 :25-end. Amen
The Creed
Let us declare our faith in God.
We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family
in heaven and on earth is named.
We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith,
and fills us with his love.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us
with power from on high.
We believe in one God;
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our Prayers: Led by Margaret
Merciful Father
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen.
The Peace
The peace of the Lord be always with you
and also with you.
Let us offer one another a sign of peace.
Song: On no you never let go

Holy Communion
The Lord be with you
and also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.
Almighty God, good Father to us all,
your face is turned towards your world.
In love you gave us Jesus your Son
to rescue us from sin and death.
Your Word goes out to call us home
to the city where angels sing your praise.
We join with them in heaven's song
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might
Heaven and earth are full of your glory
Hosanna in the highest
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord
Hosanna in the highest
Father of all, we give you thanks
for every gift that comes from heaven.
To the darkness Jesus came as your light.
With signs of faith and words of hope
he touched untouchables with love and washed the guilty clean.
This is his story.
This is our song:
Hosanna in the highest.
The crowds came out to see your Son,
yet at the end they turned on him.
On the night he was betrayed
he came to table with his friends
to celebrate the freedom of your people.
This is his story.
This is our song:
Hosanna in the highest.
Jesus blessed you, Father, for the food;
he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and said:
This is my body, given for you all.
Jesus then gave thanks for the wine;
he took the cup, gave it and said:
This is my blood, shed for you all
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this in remembrance of me.
This is our story.
This is our song:
Hosanna in the highest.
Therefore, Father, with this bread and this cup
we celebrate the cross
on which he died to set us free.
Defying death he rose again
and is alive with you to plead for us and all the world.
This is our story.
This is our song:
Hosanna in the highest.
Send your Spirit on us now
that by these gifts we may feed on Christ
with opened eyes and hearts on fire.
May we and all who share this food
offer ourselves to live for you
and be welcomed at your feast in heaven
where all creation worships you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
Blessing and honour and glory and power
be yours for ever and ever. Amen.
We continue with The Lord’s prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.
We break this bread to share in the body of Christ.
Though we are many we are one body because we all share in one bread.
Jesus, Lamb of God
have mercy on us.
Jesus bearer of our sins,
have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the world,
grant us peace.
Draw near with faith.
Receive the body of our Lord Jesus Christ
which he gave for you,
and his blood which he shed for you.
Eat and drink
in remembrance that he died for you,
and feed on him in your hearts
by faith with thanksgiving.
Song during Communion
What a beautiful name

Prayer of Spiritual Communion
Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits you have given me,
for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.
Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally,
I ask you to come spiritually into my heart.
O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,
may I know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen
The Blessing
The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.
Song: My Lighthouse

Notices
Birthdays
The Dismissal
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.

 


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