Let’s start with three deep breaths and relax….
Change Comes from the Inside
Monday, July 27, 2020 (Living in Isolation can magnify our flaws as well as our gifts)
As we come to know our soul gift more clearly, we almost always have to let go of some other “gifts” so we can do our one or two things with integrity. Such letting go frees us from always being driven by what has been called the “tyranny of the urgent.”  Soon urgency is a way of life, and things are not done peacefully from within. What if we choose to simply do one or two things wholeheartedly in our lives? That is all God expects and all we can probably do well. Too much good work becomes a violence to ourselves and, finally, to those around us.
Let’s just use our different gifts to create a unity in the work of service (Ephesians 4:12–13), and back one another up, without criticism or competition. Only in our peaceful, mutual honoring do we show forth the glory of God.
The Gospel is not about being nice; it is about being honest and just, and the world doesn’t like those two things very much. Our job is to learn how to be honest, but with love and respect. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us that before we go out to witness for justice, we have to make sure that we can love and respect those with whom we disagree.
Imagine the surrender necessary for those who have been oppressed for hundreds of years to continue to work peacefully for justice. Frankly, I don’t know how anyone can do it without contemplation. How do we get to that deep place where we do not want to publicly expose, humiliate, or defeat our opponents, but rather work, as King said, for win-win situations? Seeking win-win solutions, not win-lose, takes a high level of spiritual development and demands spiritual conversion.
When we are hurt, we want to hurt back. When we are put down, we want to put down the opponent. This is our ego’s natural defense mechanism. We all move toward the ego, and we even solidify it as we get older if something doesn’t expose it for the lie that it is—not because it is bad, but because it thinks it is the whole and only thing! We change from inside—from the power position to the position of vulnerability and solidarity, which gradually changes everything. – Fr. Richard Rohr
let us begin today’s worship
CALL TO WORSHIP
Be Now my Vision #451
(All candles lit.)
Feeding the Five Thousand
13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
The word of God for the people of God!
Sermon: What is Enough?
A young preacher graduated from Bible College and was invited back to his home congregation to preach a sermon. He wanted to make a good impression. He did his best to prepare to preach to his home church. He wrote his sermon word for word and memorized it. He had a very dramatic beginning to the sermon.
He started by hitting the pulpit real hard and said, “Jesus took 5,000 fishes and 2,000 loaves and he fed 5 people!” He paused very dramatically and pointed his finger at the congregation and said, “Could you do that?” Everyone roared with laughter and he couldn’t imagine what was going on. At that point one man raised his hand. That set the young preacher off. He said, “Sir, you are guilty of blasphemy. How could you claim to do something that only our Lord could do?” This man stood up and began to explain to the young preacher about the big mistake that he had made.
The preacher, when he realized what he had done, was so humiliated that he couldn’t say another word. He sat down in utter confusion and disgrace. The home church was very loving, very kind, very forgiving and they all came around and put their arms around him and they
said, “Look, everyone makes mistakes. Forget about it. You work on this sermon and next Sunday try it again.” They finally convinced him.
The next Sunday after working on that sermon another entire week, he stood up in front of the congregation. This time he got all of his fact and figures straight, but he started out the very
same way. He hit the pulpit very dramatically and he said, “Jesus took 5 loaves and 2 fishes and he fed 5,000 people. Could you do that?” The same man raised his hand. The preacher was really upset and he said, “Sir, how can you claim to do something like that?” The man said, “With the leftovers from your sermon last Sunday.”
The story of the loaves and fishes as read today is from Mathews Gospel yet it appears in all four gospels so it evidently had some significance. It is often read as a metaphor for community. The story itself is used to recall how Israel was many times protected and sustained by God. And it mirrors the Jewish expectation of an end of time banquet with God. Again when they are seated into groups small groups these were prescriptions of early Christian community life.
Well, the gospel story for today is an old favorite about Jesus and his disciples that was told over and over again. There are some old favorite stories which are told only one time in the gospels.... such as the story of the Good Samaritan, told only once; the story of the Prodigal Son, told only once; the story of the Sheep and the Goats, told only once. These are favorite, great stories but they are told only once in our Gospel.
The story for today, about the five loaves and two fish, is not told merely once, not twice, not three times, but four times in its variations. It is the only Gospel miracle which is told in its fullness in all four Gospels.
Now, why is this story told over and over again? I believe it is because this story captures the truth, the essence of all the people involved; the essential truth about Jesus and the essential truth about the disciples and the essential truth about God.
So I would like to retell this story for you, but include elements from the other Gospel versions of the story. Let’s begin.
It was springtime in Israel. The rains of March and April had come and the land was now fresh and green. The brown hills had soaked up the spring rains and the flowers were blooming and the hills were green again.
It was Passover time. Passover was their great religious feast, like Easter is for us. That meant a holiday from school, and a holiday from work. That meant that people were taking trips, packing their donkeys and going on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It was a time of religious aliveness, of fasting and feasting and traveling.
It was popularity time for Jesus. Jesus had healed people of their diseases and his popularity was becoming enormous. He was like a new rock star, and thousands would gather to hear him preach just as thousands used to gather to hear a rock concert and see a star in person.
In one telling of the story, we see the disciples had just returned after being sent out in groups of two to preach and offer healing and expel demons across the country side. The disciple come back all excited that it really worked they were amazed and astounded and told Jesus of all that they had done.
In Mathews Gospel tragedy has struck the heart of Israel. John the Baptist had just been beheaded. John, the Baptist, was the greatest moral force, the greatest spiritual force, the greatest prophet the land of Israel had experienced for four hundred years. He was the person that everyone looked to for moral and religious inspiration, and he was just beheaded by King Herod. Everyone was stunned by this tragedy, by this enormous loss, including Jesus, who had been baptized by John.
And so it was a grieving time in Israel, mourning time. People were stunned, and Jesus wanted to get away by himself to grieve, to pray, to remember. He wanted to get away to a lonely place and so he got into a boat to sail across Lake Galilee to a remote point, some four miles away, in order to get away from the massive crowds who were following him, to be alone and grieve the loss of John the Baptist.
To help us today, I want to use the geography of our area. Let’s imagine that Jesus got onto a bike here and rode it to Papagallos. That’s what happened in the story for today; Jesus took a four mile boat ride to a more remote, wilderness area, but the crowds could see from the shore where he was sailing to. And so the crowds followed along the shoreline, keeping an eye on his boat, and so when Jesus’ boat landed, many of the crowd had already arrived.
And what was Jesus’ reaction to the thousands who had shown up? Irritated? Angry? Imposed upon? No, he looked on the massive crowd with compassion, like they were sheep without a shepherd, like people who were in need of spiritual feeding for their spiritual hungers inside. And so he taught them and he healed them.
The day quickly passed. It got to be later, long into the day, and one of the disciples said: “This is a deserted place, the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus says; “They don’t need to go anywhere you feed them.”
Now I want us to note Jesus’ attitude and action. Jesus was moved with compassion because of the multitude’s condition. To the suggestion “Send them away,” Jesus replied, “You give them something to eat.” In response to this came the disciples reply of inadequacy. All we have is this. We have, is in-adequate. What we are, is not enough. Yet, the Gospel records state that they ate as much as they wanted, two of the Gospels state that they ate until they were gorged.
Now please indulge me as I share a similar story of another miracle;
After months of hard work and years of saving, the day came for Reb and Jackay to open their own restaurant. All that was needed was the final health inspection and the issuing of their business permit. That was scheduled for first thing that morning; then "Our Place," as they called their restaurant would be in business.
But that morning the winds and rains of Hurricane Hugo hit, unexpectedly making its way 200 miles inland to their North Carolina town. Trees were uprooted, power lines were down, homes and stores were destroyed. Reb and Jackay hurried to their restaurant. Everything was intact.
A deputy sheriff pulled up and told them that their restaurant, the fire station next door and a service station down the road were the only ones that had electricity. Reb and Jackay called the health inspector to come immediately so they could open, but because of the power outage, he couldn’t get into his office to issue the permit. No permit, no business opening. With a refrigerator stocked with 300 pounds of bacon and beef and bushels of tomatoes, lettuce and bread, there was only one thing to do: give the food away.
They told the deputy, "Tell your coworkers and other emergency people you see that we’ll have free BLT’s and coffee for anybody who want to drop by." Soon firemen, policemen, linemen and other workers were filing into Our Place. When the couple heard that another restaurant was scalping people by charging ten dollars for two eggs, toast and bacon, they placed a sign in their window: FREE BLT’S--FREE COFFEE. Families, travelers and street people were welcomed.
Then something began to happen. People started to clean counters and sweep floors. Volunteers took over the dish washing from Jackay and helped Reb at the grill. Having heard about what was going on at Our Place from the local radio station, people from a neighboring town that had not been too badly hit by the storm brought food from their freezers. Stores and dairies sent over chicken, milk and foodstuffs of all kinds.
And so the long day went. Those first cups of coffee and BLT’s had somehow stretched to 16,000 meals. The restaurant’s small stock increased by 500 loaves of bread, cases of mayonnaise, 350 pots of coffee and bushels of produce.
John Crossan Reminds us; “Do not let anyone tell you this is liberalism, Socialism, or Communism. It is—If you need and -ism—Godism, Householdism or, best of all, Enoughism. We sometimes name that biblical vision of God’s World-Household as Ehgaltarianism but, actually, Enoughism would be a more accurate word.”
I imagine this is what occurred at that secluded place with Jesus. Jesus said you are enough, you have enough, and we can be enough to one another. The miracle was community happened. People reached out and shared what they had till there was abundance. The disciples, through the grace of Jesus’ learned to lead by example. What we have in this story, a story so important that it shows up in each of the Gospels, is a story of a community that stepped outside of the boundaries of empire. They were in a deserted place, and took care of each other, through God’s abundance each had enough.
In the play corpus Christi Joshua comes out of the desert hungry he approaches peter the fish monger and asks for fish. Peter proceeds to inform him that he is not running a charity but eventually he gives in and hands Joshua a fish. A nearby peasant woman observes this and asks for a fish as well. Peter gets frustrated yelling at Joshua “see what you started?” Joshua offers his fish to the woman who proceeds to tell him it is not for her but her five children. Joshua then pulls five fish out of the basket.
Peter, who observes all that is happening states; “It’s a miracle I gave you one, just one fish and you gave her five!” To which Joshua replies; “And you would have given her none!”
Out of his want Joshua gives the woman a fish and they are multiplied. The monger says I gave you one and Joshua says you would have given her none. Sometimes out of our need comes abundance. We can feed many one fish at a time or one sandwich at time. The food pantry feeds many families, the Kidz cupboard feeds many families. One at a time. There is always a way to make enough, to share enough, to be enough.
I think one message that we can take from this story is not that Jesus worked a miracle but the miracle happened in community. I can’t feed 10 or twenty people myself but I can bring in a few cans of food and if everyone does we have a food pantry that is over flowing. I can’t pay all the bills of the congregation but if I give a little extra more projects get done, and more ministries can start.
Jesus didn’t ask the disciples to collect enough money and buy enough food to feed all the people that were gathered. No Jesus asked what do you have? What can you do?? Can you give but one?? If you have no fish and bread can you offer the people a warm welcome and a place to sit?? Or do you choose to be overwhelmed and sit back and say I would give none? I would do nothing?? So I ask what are you being called to do?? Perhaps read a news paper to someone who has lost their sight?? Perhaps volunteer at the food pantry?? Maybe just give one loaf of bread??
When we respond with I can do something, as opposed to how can we possibly do this. Miracles happen and people are fed literally and spiritually. Amen.
A call to prayer
This is a time of sharing.
A time of lifting, lifting up our hearts
In gratitude and supplication.
What joys do you have to share,
What needs weigh on your heart?
Bring them here in community that we may all lift them up to God.
Please write your joys and concerns in the comment section and I will lift them up after this hymn
‘Tis the Gift to Be Simple # 57 Blue book (Performed by vocal chamber ensemble Cantus)
Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us
Our Creator, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen
Invitation to the Offering
In gratitude for all that we have received from you, O Lord,
we offer our tithes and gifts for the ministry of this church in this world
which hungers and thirsts for love and peace. AMEN.
Doxology #778 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9My-_5s6bBQ
With great joy, we present these tithes and gifts for the ministry of this church.
Be with each of us as we, too, commit ourselves to lives of joyful, thankful service.
In Jesus’ name, AMEN.
For Holy Communion this morning,
I invite you to lend Christ your table.
We recall that once a long time ago Jesus gathered with his friends in a room. Men, woman, children, free and slave, Jewish, roman, tax collector and priest all gathered as friends to celebrate a feast.
We do not know all the conversations that were shared. We do not know the menu of the day. Yet by faith we proclaim these words.
The Communion words sent to the church at Corinth.
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed
took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks,
he broke it and said,
“This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
Sharing of the Elements
Leader: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Bread of Heaven.
Unison: We are one in Christ in the bread we share.
Leader: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Cup of Blessing.
Unison: We are one in Christ in the cup we share.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Let us pray in thanksgiving for this meal of grace,
rejoicing that, by the very method of our worship,
we have embodied the truth that Christ’s love
is not limited by buildings made with human hands,
nor contained in human ceremonies,
but blows as free as the Spirit in all places.
Spirit of Christ, you have blessed our tables and our lives.
May the eating of this Bread give us courage to speak faith and act love, not only in church sanctuaries, but in your precious world,
and may the drinking of this Cup renew our hope
even in the midst of pandemic.
Wrap your hopeful presence around all
whose bodies, spirits and hearts need healing,
and let us become your compassion and safe refuge. Amen
The office is open for regular hours
We are accepting donations for the kidz cupboard and the food pantry
I am available for one on one virtual visits or phone calls if you need any prayer we will be together again one day, but until then remember you are the hands and the feet of our lord in this world and in this world of no physical contact we can still smile, wave, chat, check in
Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life #543 vs 1-3,6 (Video starts at 42:05)
Lord, we have listened to your word for us this day. We are grateful for the love of Jesus who takes our burdens and lightens our spirits. Be with us today as we leave this place. May we continue to place our trust in you, for it is in the name of Jesus that we pray. AMEN.
Weary travelers, go now in peace with the love of Christ in your hearts. You are released from your burdens! Go with joy to serve God. AMEN.
Just a note Bible study is on summer leave…