the view from the pew 8-6-17

10:45 Sunday service.

Our opening hymn was “Awake My Soul, and With the Sun”. The canticle, “This Is The Feast”. The sermon hymn was “Soul Adorn Yourself with Gladness”. Our offering hymn was “Seek Ye First“. Distribution songs were “Here, O My Lord, I See Thee Face to Face“, “At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing“, and a surprise instrumental, “The Lord’s Prayer“, sweetly played by Caitlin on harp and Jean on flute. Our closing hymn was “Sent Forth by God’s Blessing“. Holy Cross is the place to be for mighty nice church music.

The liturgy went on as planned with a confession of sin and a reassuredness of forgiveness, prayers both local and universal, the Nicene creed, a benediction and even a send-off for Brian, who as of Monday is in Marine boot camp. Thank you for offering to keep us safe, Brian.

The Old Testament reading was Isaiah 55:1-5 and the New Testament reading was Romans 9:1-13. Pastor’s sermon was called When God Asks Us to Do Miracles. It was based off the Gospel reading of Matthew 14:13-21.

Supper for Five Thousand
When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully—someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.

Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.”

But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.”

“All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said.

Jesus said, “Bring them here.” Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.

The news Jesus received in the first verse was about John the Baptist having been executed by Herod. Jesus left to have time for Himself but His whereabouts were discovered by the people. Rather than having the opportunity to grieve for His cousin (and God’s prophet), Jesus was surrounded by people whose lives He knew were hollow and dis-spirited. He had compassion for them and stayed to heal the sick among them. When supper time arrived instead of being sent off to fend for themselves, Jesus told the disciples to feed them. The disciples complained because they only had a few fish and a loaf of bread offered by a youngster in the crowd. It certainly wasn’t enough to feed five yet alone 5,000 men not counting women and children. But lo, when Jesus asks you to do something be prepared for a miracle! Jesus took the young fella’s food, held it up to God and asked for His blessings on it, giving Him thanks from whom all blessings flow. We don’t know if a pile of fish and bread appeared or if it fell from the sky or, more likely(?), the baskets continually refilled until all were fed. Through God and because of God, the disciples were part of the miracle of the people being fed. I suspect by the time they got through the first hundred or so people, those in the crowd were unaware they were benefitting from a miracle.

Talking miracles is never easy because all of us want to see them happen in person. Is it a miracle that all living things with lungs exhale carbon dioxide which trees use to make oxygen which is breathed by all living things with lungs? Which came first, the leaf or the lung? What about the shirt you wear? Someone, somewhere at sometime had to be inspired to put two and two together and see that cotton could be used to make shirts and pants. In this case the cotton could have been around for a long time. It was around before Adam and Eve got caught disobeying God hence being sent out of the garden wearing nothing but some fig leaves. Even then God provided animal skins for them to wear so the idea of textile manufacturing was down the road a bit. Still, God had provided the plant in advance and gave man the ability to figure out how to make God’s creation work for him. Thousands of years later, we all benefit from a miracle God produced in the mind of a man. That’s how you have a job. Maybe clocking in at a supermarket isn’t considered a miracle but food and produce are the results of daily miracles provided by God. You don’t see the miracle of dirt, water and seeds working together to produce a pumpkin. You serve the part where it’s lugged out to be displayed, stamped with a price. But if you are desperate to be a more active part of a miracle then buy a pumpkin for someone who can benefit from it. Give it to a mother who can make a pie of it. Her children probably didn’t witness the miracle of your charity but they enjoyed the dessert just the same. You don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about what makes a miracle and who is responsible for them. Read James 1:16-17 

So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.


 

Just a thought: It would be nice if sometime the 10:45 service would play Blessings by Laura Story. Just a piano and one or two of the many golden voices we have in our church, maybe Debbie or Danielle. Someone reading this will listen to it and know what I mean. A few of the lyrics are posted below ..

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

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