Sunday, June 27, 2010

Turning Aside by Pastor Jamie

Last evening I welcomed youth and adults from Pine Street Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg, PA. They are on their way to Chicago where they will devote a week to urban ministry. They spent the night in our building, sleeping on the floor and the couches in our youth rooms.

Meeting and greeting these youth was a nostalgic experience for me as I remembered the early days of my own ministry when I led similar youth mission trips. They appreciated our comfortable building and the warm welcome they received this morning from our community of faith.

I was struck by the connection which took place in worship. While these young people were embarking on an experience of Christian service to people in need, we began our Stepping Stones journey of faith to seek and discern God's call to missional transformation...a vision for the future mission of Sunnyside Church. It was a wonderful connection!

Today we heard the story of Moses and the burning bush and how the normal and ordinary experience of his routine was transformed into an extraordinary moment of God's call. The beautiful dirt of Mt. Horeb became holy ground as God called Moses to go to Pharoah and save the Hebrew people from slavery and oppression.

There are three concepts I'd like to point out from the story and invite your reflection and conversation.

1. God initiated everything that happened while Moses responded. So what is God initiating among us today? How do we experience and hear God's call? What will be our response? Remember: God has a mission and is looking for the church to participate in that mission.

2. It was when Moses turned aside and focused on the burning bush that God spoke his name and called him to service. We tend to sometimes cover our eyes and ears to the signs of call in our lives. This summer we have the wonderful opportunity to pause, reflect, study, listen and hear God's call to our church. How can we turn aside in these days and listen carefully and intently?

3. God's call to Moses was specific, direct and bold. Go to Pharoah and tell him: "Let my people go!" It will take time and patience to discern God's call for Sunnyside. But it will be specific, direct and bold. In what ways can we discern this call and hear God's direction?

This is not a nostalgic experience, but an opportunity to peer into the future and listen for God's words: "Sunnyside! Sunnyside! Go and....?" Together we will discover the call that God is initiating.


  1. I thought Jamie's sermon was a wonderful start to our summer Bible study. I was also impressed with the discussion in the Library afterwards when 25 Sunnysiders got together to reflect on what Jamie preached and how it might help us discern God's call for Sunnyside Church. It was clear that we have all had burning bush moments in our lives, big and small. Thanks to today's lesson, I have my eyes and ears open for the next one.

  2. I thought Jamie did a wonder job this morning as well and the story of Moses and the burning bush was the perfect way to begin! For me as a member of the Stepping Stones Team, this process seemed somewhat abstract in the beginning. However, today, the process became visual not just with the example of Moses but also with the wonderful discussion that took place after the service.

  3. I am with you all. A good turn out for the first lesson. I think the comments and discussion were good and I expect them to get better as the 10:50 am meeting on the sermon becomes more familiar with the attendees. Well managed and a good feel of comfort.
    See you all tonight.

  4. I too enjoyed the Bible study. I loved the conversation and the willingness to share. I am sure that not many of us have had an experience quite as dramatic as the burning bush but there is no doubt that God speaks to us all in different ways.


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