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Empty Does Not Mean Over: Egypt

Each week Pastor Sarah blogs on the Scripture for Sunday's upcoming sermon. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Psalm 103:23-45.

One of my previous appointments hosted a Friday Afternoon Food Bank that served unemployed, underemployed, and food insecure residents in the community. This food bank was a treasure as it offered non-perishable as well as fresh vegetables, meats, and occasionally, cakes! I remember one of our patrons…whenever there was cake, it was always her birthday! And she would have it. And there was joy.

I met regularly with the volunteers on distribution days to pray us into our service together, and my prayers often included remarks about praying for the day that the food bank would be empty. That remark did not just ruffle the feathers of one of the food bank servants…to her it felt like I had plucked all her feathers all at once!

Angry – horrified – she said, “Why would you ask God for that!?”

And I said because I believe that is what God wants…for there to be no want for food because all the needs will have been met.

“But then what would we do?” she asked. What would she do? What would the volunteers do?

I assured her that one need being emptied would reveal another need to be fulfilled.

“And so then we would serve towards that?” Yes, exactly. We would and will serve towards that.”

It is true – empty does not mean over. I think more than anything, empty perhaps means or indicates a shift – that one thing or event that was is now shifting to the present and the next. While I am not always confident of what exactly is next, I know that something will, in fact, be next.

Spiritual disciplines, like what we studied each week during Lent, help ground me and provide a firm faith foundation so that when the shifts happen and empty is experienced, I am able to, as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thess 5:16-18).

What spiritual disciplines have been most helpful to you during this time? Reading Scripture? Praying? Singing your favorite hymns or worship songs? Engaging in conversation with an accountability partner or small group? What else?

Sharing with others what is most helpful for you when shift happens is both celebration and invitation: a celebration of God’s presence with and sustaining you and an invitation for those that hear your witness to engage God in their faith through these or other disciplines.

Prayer: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.”* Amen.

*"My Hope Is Built," The United Methodist Hymnal 368.

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