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Remembering Our Source
a sermon based on Deuteronomy 26:1-11
by Rev. Thomas Hall

Ever get to the grocery store and forget your mission? That used to be my mantra. What was it again I was supposed to get? Worse case scenario-you get back home and no sooner do you sit down then presto, it dawns on you that you forget the turkey.

Our mothers were right after all. If our head wasn’t glued on we’d forget it. My forgetfulness has locked me out of my car, house, cabin, locker, and church office. Forgetfulness has sent me back home to get the checkbook, turn the burner off and remove the charred remains.

In the book of worst quotations, someone once said, "I can’t believe it! I forgot to have children!" I’m not that bad, but close. I once got a call about 10:30 one night. "You Thomas Hall?" "Yeah," I said not sure I wanted to be. "Well, could you come back to church and get your daughter; she’s asleep on the fourth pew from the front." In times like that you want to hold the phone and yell, "Honey, it’s for you."

There is good news if you’ve related to this problem. Bill Cosby has finally come up with a solution for our faulty memories. It works-I’ve tried it. Realizing that only when we finally sit down that we remember he says when you forget, just do this-press your hands against your butt. Suddenly you’ll remember your mission.

That’s kind of what I see moving around in our lesson. A lot of people needing some reminding about important things. A lot of people needing Bill Cosby’s advice. The Israelites-roughly the size of Exton-had been trudging over the same dust for nearly 40 years. Four decades of loading up the U-Haul every month or so and moving to a different school district. Month in month out.

If there was a problem with the Israelites, it was their memory. They invariably forgot their password for life. God-not them-was the Source of their survival. They forgot to remember that behind all of the food, water, heartbeats, and breath was their Source. And when they forgot-anything would do for a cheap imitation of God-a golden calf, better leadership, even Canaanite gods would do the trick.

On the other hand, often when they flourished and excelled-they sort of forgot again and thought that they were responsible for their great successes.

How well is your memory this evening? Etched into our very money is the phrase, "In God We Trust." Question is, what God are we trusting in? If we could etch our own phrase into our currency what it say?

In Wall Street we trust?

In job security we trust?

In human goodness we trust?

In a strong military we trust?

In family?


Healthy bodies?

Things have happened lately, haven’t they? We know about the scandals in the Mutual Fund companies, we’ve heard about Enron, Tyco, World Com ripping off their employees and hoarding money. We’ve discovered that trust misplaced is disastrous. There isn’t a government democrat or republican enough, a friendship that lasts long enough, a congress that’s bipartisan enough, a job that’s secure enough, a relationship that’s safe enough, diet that’s safe enough, to claim our deepest trust. But sometimes we act as if we’ve forgotten the Source.

Let me tell you what God is doing in this lesson. God is readjusting Israel’s memory. "Remember when that food sort of fell from heaven?" "Yeah," they say. "Well, guess where it came from?" "Up there?" "No, it came from Me."

"Remember when you could have been annihilated out there on the desert at night?" "Yeah. So?" "What kept you safe?" "The big fire?" "No, it was Me." I have been with you every step of the way. I promise to be your Source in life.

"So when you make it big," God concludes, "When you have your own homes, gardens, businesses, and schools and universities and factories. Remember who you are and who I am. And be thankful. And remember, it is Me, your Source who gives you the power to be successful. That is my desire."

See this flugelhorn? I play it at church with an ensemble. Tiny eight-year old Benjamin comes up after a worship service one Sunday to admire my flug. "Would you like to play it?" His eyes dance. "So what do you want to play?" "Oh, Jesus Loves Me." "Well," I said, "put your fingers on the valves, and I’ll put my fingers over yours." So little Ben does that and my fingers over his begin to play. Suddenly his friends hear him playing a jazzed up version of Jesus Loves Me and crowd around him.

Next day at the daycare the conversation might look like this. "Yeah, I play the flugelhorn. "What do you play?" "Oh, I play a jazzed up version of Jesus Loves Me."

That’s so Israel. That’s so us. God great hands guide us and enable us to live. Great hands work like a template over ours-so that we sometimes get wonderful first fruits and a beautiful life. Yet our conversations suggest some memory lapse. As if we were the source and not God.

God hasn’t changed a bit. Still gives us resources and lets us put our fingers on the valves of God’s musical resource.

So once again we come to a place with a group journeying together. And once again we pause to remember that God has spread a Table before us filled with good things. Don’t forget! When you come to the Table remember that God is Source. And so we offer our meager tithes-just to remind us that God provides for our needs. Of course, we won’t leave empty-handed either. The body and blood of Christ is our food, our sustenance, our resource. So take, eat. And be thankful. Amen.