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Celebrant: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
People: And also with you.
Glory to God
Celebrant: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly king, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Collect for the Day
Celebrant: Let us pray.
Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry with the bread of his life and the word of his kingdom. Renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your true and living bread, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
Hymn: How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds (vs. 1, 2, 4) #620
(for personal viewing: not available this week)
How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
in a believer’s ear!
It soothes our sorrows, heals our wounds,
and drives away our fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole
and calms the troubled breast;
’tis manna to the hungry soul,
and to the weary, rest.
Jesus, my shepherd, brother, friend,
my prophet, priest, and king,
my Lord, my life, my way, my end,
accept the praise I bring.
- A Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans (9: 1-5)
- Psalm 17:1-7, 16
- The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew (Chapter 14:13-21)
Hymn: God Who Gives to Life Its Goodness #428
(for personal viewing: not available this week)
God who gives to life its goodness,
God creator of all joy,
giver of all human freedom,
God who blesses tool and toy:
teach us now to laugh and praise you,
deep within your praises sing,
till the whole creation dances
for the goodness of its King.
God who fills the earth with beauty,
God who binds each friend to friend,
giver of all human talent,
God who wills that chaos end:
grant us now creative spirits,
minds responsive to your mind,
hearts and wills your rule extending,
all our acts by love refined.
We are a part of God’s mission to care for the world using all the gifts God has given us. Whether we meet in person or online or not at all, God wants us to give back in ways that are meaningful and significant. Offertory is not a membership fee. Regular giving is an answer to God’s call to us to be disciples … to offer resources that reflect the grace and generosity of Christ and equip the Church to be His hands and feet in the world. It supports for ministry opportunities to reach those who have not yet heard of God’s love and invite them to make our church their church.
Thank you for your faithfulness in stewardship. Continue to drop off or mail your offertory envelopes to the church. If you haven’t yet, please consider becoming a pre-authorized giver or making a habit of donating online at the end of each Sunday service.
Lord, we thank you for the gift of your Word and as we think on these things, open our hearts and our minds to hear you. Amen.
For those of you who have not been with us recently and for those of you who may have forgotten, we have been following our Gospel readings as if we were on a voyage of discovery. This voyage gives us the opportunity to review our faith and our commitment to Jesus by following him through various episodes in his life, just like those first disciples and followers did who witnessed his ministry here on earth. Our voyage started with his telling many and various parables to the crowds surrounding him on that boat on the shore of Lake Galilee and today and next week Jesus ups the ante by performing two miracles (or signs as John describes them in his gospel) – firstly, the feeding of the 5000 and next week his walking on water. We must not forget we’re on this voyage attempting to discover why Jesus had the impact he did and trying to place our selves among the witnessing crowds faced with this enigmatic travelling Rabbi and the ragbag of disciples on their journey with him.
So, why the miracles? Do we believe they actually happened or were they just figments of the imagination of the writers of the gospels? Furthermore, whether or not we believe they actually happened, what significance do they have in our lives today? So, three questions and three points for us to mull over this morning and, of course, as we all know, every sermon should always have three points!!
So, firstly, why the feeding of the 5000? The answer is one simple word – COMPASSION. That word literally means “suffering with” someone. Jesus felt compassion for the crowds gathered in the wilderness to hear him, so he healed the sick and fed them with five loaves of bread and two fishes. He did this because he saw them suffering and he suffered with them. He felt the pain of the sick; he shared the hunger of those who were without food. But he also shared the pain of our human condition where good health and life itself are precarious and where, in the words of poor suffering Job in the Old Testament, “human beings are born to trouble just as sparks fly upward.” Among that crowd of 5000 there would have been many whose lives were dominated by poverty and suffering under the occupation of an invading Roman army, many who were sick with terminal diseases, many questioning any idea of a God who loves them, many probably scoffing at Jesus and his teachings and yet, nevertheless, drawn somehow to his enigmatic charisma.
Jesus could so easily have ignored them, bearing in mind he had gone to the wilderness privately to grieve for the loss of his cousin, John the Baptist, whose beheading had taken place just before. He could have sent the crowds away, as his disciples urged him, to find food for themselves. But no! He saw their suffering and had compassion on them regardless of who they were and what they believed. He made no judgments; he did not insist they got on their knees and acknowledge him as their Lord and Saviour; he did not feed just those who believed in him – he simply saw them, had compassion on them and FED them.
So, secondly, do we believe it really happened? Well, I’m sure we’re all aware of the favourite explanations for believing this miracle not to be true…..the people had brought their own food anyway and the loaves and fishes were just an extra; according to Luke’s account a boy had brought the loaves and fishes and he may well have had many more than the numbers declared in the story; the crowds were much smaller than claimed, many in the crowd did in fact leave to buy food for themselves, etc., etc. – the explanations go on and on! Yet this miracle is the only one recorded by all four gospel writers and it is one of the most dramatic events in history performed by Jesus, the Son of God, which had a huge impact on Jesus’ followers, not only at the level of miraculously providing food but also at the level of providing a resonance among them with how God, the Father of Jesus, had miraculously fed their ancestors in the desert with manna from heaven. If this latter event had not happened, would there not have been scoffing comments made to and about Jesus? We hear no negative reaction like that; instead, we are told, “they ate and were satisfied.” For me, there is no doubt this miracle occurred – the rest of you can decide for yourselves!
So, to our third point or question – what significance does this event have for us in our lives? Well, the first thing to say is that the miracle of the loaves and fishes reminds us of God’s abundant generosity towards us – all of us in the world, not just the holy huddle of believers. By providing so much from so little, Jesus shows God’s willingness, no, more than that, God’s desire to care and look after all His people and remind them that nothing is impossible with and for Him. His abundant generosity comes together with His compassion and that remains the same today as it did when our Lord walked here on earth.
Therefore, the hallmarks of our lives as Christians should be an awesome gratitude to God for all He gives us in creation and an overwhelming compassion for our fellow human beings, no matter who they are or what they believe or do. Amen.
Prayers of the People
Leader: Lord in your mercy;
Response: Hear our prayer.
Hymn: Fairest Lord Jesus (vs. 1, 3, 4) #619
(for personal viewing: not available this week)
Fairest Lord Jesus,
ruler of all nature,
O thou the Godhead’s human son:
thee will I cherish,
thee will I honour,
thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.
Fair is the sunshine,
fairer still the moonlight,
and fair the twinkling, starry host;
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer
than all the angels heaven can boast.
All fairest beauty,
heavenly and earthly,
wondrously, Jesus, is found in thee;
none can be nearer,
fairer, or dearer
than thou, my Savior, art to me.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be amongst you and remain with you always. Amen.