WORSHIP SERVICE

August 02, 2020

Pentecost 9

PRELUDE MUSIC

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GREETING & CALL TO WORSHIP

Good morning! Welcome to St. John’s worship service today as we begin the month of August on the 9th Sunday of the Pentecost season. May you be blessed as you worship with us today. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Come, let us worship God.

OPENING HYMN 

"The Church Of Christ In Every Age"

(click play on the video to listen)

PSALM OF THE DAY 

Psalm 17

Hear a just cause, O Lord, attend to my cry;

   give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.

From you let my vindication come,

   let your eyes see the right.

If you try my heart, you will find no wickedness;

   my steps have held fast to your paths.

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God,

   incline your ear to me, hear my words.

Wondrously show your steadfast love,

   O savior of those who seek refuge.

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;

   when I awake I shall be satisfied.

CALL TO CONFESSION

The apostle Paul reminds us that none of us is perfect. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Beloved in the Lord, let us draw near with a true heart, and confess our sins to God our Father, asking him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness.

 

 

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Most merciful God, we confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.  We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and follow in your ways, to the glory of your holy name.  Amen.

 

ASSURANCE OF PARDON

God demonstrated his love for us in this: That while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, and we are justified by his blood. This is the good news of the gospel: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Thanks be to God!

 

THE PRAYER OF THE DAY

God, whose law is perfect and whose covenant with us is sure, teach us today as Jesus taught the crowds long ago. May we hear the voice of compassion and sense the healing touch which we need as much as they did. Multiply among us the food of your Word, that as we are fed, we may be eager to pass on your gifts to us with a transforming generosity of spirit, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

ACT OF PRAISE

"Glory Be To The Father"

(click play on the video to listen)

SCRIPTURE READING

Matthew 14:13-21

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. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 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.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 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. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

 

CHILDREN’S MESSAGE

“The Loaves and Fish”

 

What’s your favorite Bible story about Jesus? One of my favorite stories is the one about the loaves and fish. Here is a poem about it:

 

            Jesus tried to be alone one day

            But people followed him anyway.

            He healed the sick until day was done;

            It was time for food, but there was none.

 

            A young boy offered what he’d brought along,

            With Jesus and the hungry throng.

            “Two small fish and five loaves of bread

            Won’t feed this crowd,” the disciples said.

 

            As the people sat on the grassy banks,

            Jesus took the bread and gave God thanks.

            He broke the bread and the disciples were sent

            Into the crowd.  All around they went.

 

            5000 were fed before they were done,

            And there was enough for everyone.

            What started out as something small,

            With God’s help, was enough for all.

 

We do not know how it was possible to feed 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 small fish, but with Jesus, anything is possible!

 

You know, there are many poor and hungry people living in the world; some of them live right here in our town. I am only one person and you are only one person—what can we do about the people in our town who need food? Well—there are many ways we can help. We can bring food to church for the food pantry, we can donate money for the pantry or for the homeless shelter, we can help deliver Meals on Wheels, we can help serve a meal at church. Maybe you have some other ideas, too.

 

Whatever we do, I’m sure Jesus would be happy to know that we are helping others just as he did and just as he wants us to do! Let us pray: Help us to find small ways we can help people around us who need it, loving God, so that through us, your love can make a difference in the world. Amen.

 

HYMN 

"Break Thou The Bread Of Life"

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MEDITATION 

“AYCE Fish Dinner”

Today’s gospel reading is a very popular story with the gospel writers—it is the only story about Jesus’ ministry that appears in all four gospels. It is one I’m sure you have heard many times—about Jesus feeding the 5,000 with just five loaves of bread and two fish. And on this very hot Sunday morning you are all probably sitting there thinking—“Good—it’s a familiar story—we know it, so I hope the pastor doesn’t drag it out too long.” The truth is, we are all here today in spite of the heat because God has brought us here, and even though we may have heard this story many times before, God may have a new message from an old story for us this morning. And so, I invite you to turn to the scripture reading page in your bulletin and follow along as we go.

This is one of those texts that actually begins in the middle of a story: “Now when Jesus heard this”—heard what? we ask. And “when the crowds heard it,” what did they hear? So I’ll back up a verse or two to find out what it was they heard, because what they heard is very important to the context of the story.

You see, what they had just heard was news about the death of John the Baptist. John was dead—murdered—beheaded at the request of King Herod’s wife. The disciples had just returned from burying John, and had brought Jesus the news. Jesus, now grieving the death of his beloved cousin John, withdrew in a boat to a deserted place to be by himself.

But the crowds who were there were stricken with the news, too—after all, John had baptized most of them, he was their prophet, he had prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry with them. And so they, too, were grieving. They needed consolation, and knew that they could turn to Jesus for comfort.

So when Jesus saw them, he understood their sorrow, he had compassion on them and began to help them in many ways, including curing their sick. All day long they came to him and all day long he cared for them—physically, emotionally, spiritually. There were about 5000 men, and if you add women and children, there were probably about 20,000 people there that day, grieving and seeking peace from Jesus.

Evening came, and the disciples came to Jesus and said, “The hour is late, send these people away, let them go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “No, don’t send them away—feed them.” And you know the rest of the story, how thousands were fed with only five loaves and two fish. It was a miracle.

But exactly what was is that was so miraculous? What is it about this miracle story that brings us back to it again and again? Is it that it shows the power of Jesus—that Jesus can take five loaves and two fish and turn it into a feast? That would certainly be worth knowing, but I believe there is a much bigger story here—let’s look a bit closer.

How, exactly, was this miracle accomplished? And why should we be so interested in knowing about it today? Here’s why:

When the disciples came to Jesus concerned about feeding so many people, he didn’t say, “OK—send them home,” nor did he say, “I’ll take care of them.” Instead, he said to them, “You feed them. You give them something to eat.” Now we can only imagine what went through their heads when he said that. They were not prepared to feed thousands, they didn’t even have enough for themselves, and they told him so, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” But Jesus said, “Bring them to me.” Then he took the loaves, looked up to heaven, blessed and broke them and gave them to his disciples and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled—there was plenty for all. In fact, there was more than enough—with 12 baskets full of leftover pieces.

The real miracle in this story is not that Jesus produced bread for thousands, but that Jesus took what little the disciples had and blessed it and multiplied it into more than enough for all. The real miracle is that when all the disciples had to offer was five small loaves and two fish, Jesus took their meager offering and blessed it and fed the multitude.

Jesus’ miracles are not restricted to the past—to the time when he was here on earth. There is hunger today just as there was hunger then—human needs haven’t changed over the years. And Jesus says to us today, just as he said to his disciples on that seashore, “You feed them. Don’t send them away, you feed them.” And when we say, “but, I don’t have much, all I have is a meager bit,” then Jesus says, “Give it to me.” And Jesus takes what we have, and blesses it, and multiplies it and gives it to help others.

Jesus’ miracle is not bread and fish as much as it is our participation together in God’s desire to help the whole world. The real miracle for us today is in learning our own part in God’s plan. In the face of all the scarcity in the world today, Jesus says to us, “Bring what you have to me, and I will do the rest.”

The question for us this morning is this: Are we willing to be present with Jesus in a miracle? You may be asking, “How can we do what Jesus called his disciples to do? How can we find enough nourishment for all the needy people in the world? How can we visit all the sick, console all the distressed, nurture all the young, be attentive to the neighborhood filled with needy people who never come to church? How can we do such a monumental job? The answer is that we can, when we include Jesus in our work, because Jesus transforms everything he touches. That means that when we work together with Jesus, everything becomes possible. It doesn’t matter if we don’t have much to give. What does matter is that when we give to Jesus even a little bit out of our meager lives, Jesus will turn it into a miracle.

Mother Theresa told a story about when she and her order of nuns were ministering to the impoverished people on the streets of Calcutta, India. Early one Friday, one of the sisters went to Mother Theresa and said, “There is no food.” We will have to tell the people that we will not be able to give them anything today or tomorrow.” At that time, they were feeding 7000 people a day, and they had never failed to provide a meal before. But what were they to do? Then, at nine in the morning, the government, for some unknown reason, closed all the schools for a day and sent the bread that they would have fed to the school children to Mother Theresa. Even though all they had was bread, no one went away hungry. It was a modern-day miracle.

Jesus says, “Bring what you have to me.” If you will do that, you will find that it matters not how little you have, it matters only that you bring it to Jesus. And I’m not talking just about bread—or even money. Whatever Jesus calls you to do, if you show him you are willing to do it, he will accomplish it through you.

Jesus didn’t feed the multitude without the disciples help. The bread did not come to the crowd as manna from the sky, but through the work and kindness of the human hand. The little things we can do, even though they may seem trivial in comparison to the vast needs of those around us, will make a difference.

“And Jesus looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples, and all ate and were filled.” It’s no coincidence that we hear these same words in the institution of the sacrament of Holy Communion. It is what Jesus’ life was all about—taking, blessing, breaking, giving—it’s what he offers to the multitudes even today.

That day by the Sea of Galilee was a miracle. It was a day of healing, of sharing, of blessing and breaking and giving and eating, and making a difference. It was a good day. May this day be a good day for you. Amen.

CHOIR ANTHEM

"If I Can Help Somebody"

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AFFIRMATION OF FAITH 

“The Apostles’ Creed”

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,

     Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

     Born of the Virgin Mary,

     Suffered under Pontius Pilate,

     Was crucified, died, and was buried;

     He descended to the dead.

     On the third day he rose again;

     He ascended into heaven,

     He is seated at the right hand of the Father,

     And he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

     The holy catholic Church,

     The communion of saints,

     The forgiveness of sins,

     The resurrection of the body

     And the life everlasting. Amen.

MORNING PRAYER & LORD'S PRAYER

Gracious God, you are the one in whom all that is has its source, and the one from whom all blessings flow. You affirm the goodness of your creation, and establish our goodness as a reflection of you. And so, we come into your presence and sing our praises to you this day.

 

Pour out upon us a fresh gift of your Holy Spirit that we may have a mind to address the ills of this world. Help us to be generous to those who hunger. Aid us in being healers to those who are sick. Inspire us to be peacemakers for those in conflict. Give guidance to our leaders in this nation and in other nations around the world, that they may seek the common good for all your people.

We give thanks today for the great history of you feeding your people, from the manna in the wilderness to the crowds on the Galilean hillside, to the nations of today. We give thanks for the example of Jesus and the first Christians who celebrated their common life and fellowship with shared meals. We thank you for the spiritual food that keeps us from falling in weakness.

Gracious God, we who have been given ample supply, desire to share in your sustaining and blessing the lives of others. Use the offering we bring today for the feeding of your people who are hungry in body or soul, that all may have provision for their present needs.

We pray this day for ourselves, for new eyes to see the beauty and bounty in your creation, and for the spirit of Jesus, who trusted your infinite provision in all circumstances, to be present in and through us. We pray that we, too, would be able to give ourselves times of peace and quiet, yet not so much that we neglect to meet together for the building up of the body of Christ.

 

We pray this day for others, for those suffering from poverty, hunger, homelessness and loneliness. We pray for those who are hungry for daily bread for their souls, that they may be fed and enabled to know you, the source of all blessing.

Loving God, receive into your care those who wrestle this day with illness of body, mind, or spirit. Hear us as we lift up those whom we name in our hearts. We pray for those who have lost loved ones, that you would abide with them in this time of need.

Hear us and answer us O God, for we pray today as always in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying...Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

OFFERING

Thank you to everyone who continues to support our ministry with your offerings. May God bless you for your generosity and kindness.

OFFERTORY

"Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind"

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OFFERING PRAYER

Gracious God, we offer our thanks today for the blessings we have received this week. Bless the gifts and those who have given them, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

CLOSING HYMN 

“Dear God Embracing Humankind"

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COMMISSION & BENEDICTION

God promises to be with us wherever we are, so we can always say with confidence, "Surely, God is in this place." Go now to serve God and others in Jesus' name. And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit go with you wherever you go. Amen.

THREE-FOLD AMEN

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POSTUDE

"Voluntary In A Major"

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