Of Parting the Red Sea and Kitchen Conundrums  — this was written for the Iowa United Methodist Conference to be used during the week of May 21-27, 2017.  The Way Forward Commission has sought all United Conferences pray for their work as they develop a new statement and recommendations regarding all denominational understandings of Human Sexuality

by Rev. Carol Kress

Scripture: “The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground. The water forming a wall on their right and on their left.” (Exodus 14:22)

An Iowa United Methodist church decided to remodel its out-dated kitchen. So a kitchen design team was appointed and spent months envisioning future needs of the church and designing a new kitchen to accommodate them. It was apparent the project would be expensive so they sought a vote of the congregation which demonstrated its support with enthusiasm.

On New Year’s Eve, a party gathered which was eager to celebrate and demolish that old kitchen. However, it did not take long to discover a problem. The party discovered standing water underneath the double sink and its housing. Both sinks had problem pipes. One appeared to be stopped while the other was slow in its work. Unfortunately, the problem did not have a simple solution. Experts were commissioned to take the place of volunteers. Their report to the kitchen design team was sobering. Each sink had separate pipes. One set led east, connecting with the city on the far side of a historic brick street. The second set led west. They ran underneath the entire length of fellowship hall until they were finally under the alley to meet with city pipes. The expert recommended to replace the pipes and lead all of them in one direction, But no one could agree on which direction. Either way created its own set of expensive issues.

Although the pastor could be impatient, the congregation was not, They deliberated the kitchen conundrum with great care, The design team studied the matter from every point of view and met with a lengthy list of local engineers, plumbers, carpenters and others, Surely there were more choices than had been recommended to the design team. No one wanted to tear up fellowship hall nor did they want to ruin a historic brick street.

The team brought their quest for a solution to the congregation seeking prayers and help. The pastor was inspired to open her bible. She spoke of Moses, the Israelites and their flight from Pharaoh. God’s people found themselves caught between the Red Sea and the Egyptian Army. But, acting on faith, Moses stepped into the sea. It divided, providing an avenue of escape. Although Moses had worried there would be no way forward and that he had done was wasted, God provided what Moses could not provide In fact, there was a way to move forward for the Israelites.

As for the kitchen conundrum, time passed and the committee began to feel pressured to choose its direction. But before they made this decision, the sea began to part and dry land arose, A inspired plumber approached the design team. He had heard of their problem and he had an idea. He had recently read of a new process for laying pipe by creating an underground bore-hole. And, if he purchased the new equipment, might the design team agree to let the kitchen pipes be his first project? Much to everyone’s relief, the plumber knew his trade well and he learned quickly, Within just a few days the new pipes were in place and the kitchen project took a giant step forward. The design team rejoiced and that pastor was convinced Moses had appeared in the form of a plumber wearing a baseball cap and steel-toed boots to lead the church forward.

Perhaps it’s time for all United Methodists to gather around kitchen counters and fellowship tables to pray and open the book of Exodus. Let us be reminded of Moses and the fleeing Israelites who discovered God’s ways and wisdom to be so great. If we created a list of all the times God parted the sea and created a way out of no way in our lives the list would be lengthy. But, it would never be long enough to contain all that our God of endless possibilities still plans to do on behalf of his beloved church.

Prayer: Open our eyes that we may see, glimpses of truth Thou hast for we. Place in our hands the magical key that shall unclasp and set us free. Silently now, we wait for thee, ready our God thy will to see. Open our eyes, illumine we, spirit divine. Amen,

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