Synchronous Life – Honoring Occupation

(Sermon Study Notes for 032016 – Download PDF here)

We are meant for work, and for Good works. In the very beginning stories of human life meaningful work was seen as an essential element of our existence. Work can be a means by which we honor and glorify God, or it can distract us and destroy that which is good.

Sermon Study Notes – 032016 – Exodus 36:1-7

Occupation means not only what we do to earn income and thus purchase the things we need to live. The literal definition is “anything that occupies your time” – therefore watching TV, doing yard work, writing a poem or cooking a meal – these are all occupations. For the purposes of the Synchronous Life discussion, occupations are those things that are done external to oneself. Thus thinking a poem is an intellectual activity, while writing or reciting it to someone is an occupation.

The text for today (Exodus 36:1-7, see also Exodus 31:1-11) demonstrates how God has gifted and called particular individuals to occupations whereby they will do something or make something, and thus contribute positively to the community. They have been “blessed to be a blessing” (Genesis 12). As background for this, we have also Genesis 1:26-2:9, excerpts from the first and second creation stories that illustrate how God made human kind with occupation as integral to our created nature – to care for creation and one another, and thereby provide our livelihood and develop society.

In the texts from Exodus we see that some work serves the purpose of enabling or enhancing the worship life of the community. Not that we must have a structure within which to worship, or instruments and musicians to lead us, or vessels and other objects for our use in worship. These are not, strictly speaking, necessary. And yet they are helpful. They can aid in drawing us in and holding us together as a community and focusing our attention on God. (NOTE: They can also become obstacles, when they become the objects of worship rather than tools that facilitate worship – that is the definition of idolatry.)

Think about the place, the space, and the objects used in your experiences of worship. How are they helpful, and how might they become a hindrance? Which ones do you personally use, and which are used by others, though perhaps for your benefit – i.e. you use a hymnal and the communion trays, but do not personally play the organ. Give thanks for those who made all of these things, those who gave the money for them, and those who maintain and prepare themselves to make worshipful use of them – all of these are expressions of occupation. Now think about all of the rest of the church life – study, fellowship, service, evangelism, administration – and all of the items used, and by whom. Think over all of the various occupations that go into making a church function well. In which of these are you now or have you been involved? How have you helped make these things possible? When can you recall that these things became sources of struggle or conflict in the life of a congregation?

What about today and tomorrow? How are you currently involved? What is your occupation in the life of faith through the congregation or community where you are connected? What might you do differently? Various occupations suit us during the changing seasons of our lives. Yet there is always something we contribute to those around us and to the world. What is it for you?

 

Questions for Reflection:

Occupation is one of the Six Domains of a Synchronous Life:
Spiritual / Physical – Emotional / Relational – Intellectual / Occupational

  1. How is your occupational life important in your faith journey and relationship with God? How has that changed over time? Remember, this applies not only to what you do to earn income, but any activities – work, hobbies, etc.
  2. When might occupations cause problems for someone’s spiritual journey?
  3. Where in our community and culture do you see occupations to be vibrant and life-giving? Where are they being applied with wisdom, resulting in righteousness, justice and equity?
  4. Where in your own personal life does your occupational life get expressed? How do you keep it active and vibrant?
  5. What might a church, The Church, and our church, do to support people in their occupational lives – in the pursuit of meaningful work and activities that help them become better people and receive God’s blessings so that they can bless others?
  6. How do occupations impact the other areas of life – spiritual, physical, emotional, relational, intellectual? What might you do, and what might the church do, to help people better integrate, harmonize, and synchronize the energy and vitality in each of these other areas with their occupational lives?
  7. How have you, and how can you, share your occupations with others? Who have you apprenticed, taught, mentored in a skill or knowledge area of yours? Again, this can be a “work” or “hobby” or “volunteer” activity.
  8. When has God shown up in your occupational life? When have you been active in some task or another and become aware of God’s presence, or God working in, through or around you to bless others, yourself, and the world at large?

 

Worship Resources for 032016

CtW – Psalm 90 sv

Leader: Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

People: You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.” A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.

Leader: Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

People: Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.

Unison: May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.

Prayer of Confession: UCC Book of Worship 36a

Text: Exodus 36:1-7
Title: Synchronous Life – Honoring Occupations
Also:  Genesis 1:26-2:9

We are meant for work, and for Good works. In the very beginning stories of human life meaningful work was seen as an essential element of our existence. Work can be a means by which we honor and glorify God, or it can distract us and destroy that which is good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exodus 36

1 So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the LORD has commanded.” 2 Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. 3 They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. 4 So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing 5 and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the LORD commanded to be done.” 6 Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, 7 because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.

 

Exodus 31

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. 6 Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you: 7 the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent— 8 the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, 9 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand— 10 and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you.”

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