Love Feast

Love Feast

9th Sunday of Pentecost, Year A,  

2nd  August, 2020

Isaiah 55:1-5 CEV /  Matthew 14:13-21 CEV

 

Intro/Prelude
I Will Praise You, Lord / Je louerai l’Eterne, 
written by Claude Fraysse,
played by church musician Annie Center, 

 

Call to Worship/Welcome

 

Only the hungry search for bread. Only the thirsty look for water.
This is a place for those who are hungry and thirsty in spirit.

Only those who ache for meaning will pursue it.
Only those who yearn for a deeper
life will seek it.
This is a place for those who ache and yearn for something more.

So let us come here today with our hunger and thirst,
our unsatisfied longings,
our heart-felt yearnings,
and let the God of life satisfy our souls.

 

I’m glad to welcome you to online worship with Olympic View Community Church. 
We seek to welcome all of God’s children to join us in bearing witness to the radically transforming power of God’s love.  

Part of our tradition is a commitment to share words of peace and welcome with each
other when we gather.  This morning we reflect on what peace looks like within us.  As we listen to the following poem about peace by Randy Queen, let’s think about how we can
find our own inner peace, and those we might wish that same peace for.

Passing the Peace of Christ

Invocation

Join me in a word of prayer.

We gather today, O Creator of Life, seeking fullness.
Not the fullness our world offers, but fullness that comes from You.
We spend so much of our lives on things that do not count.
Things that promise much and give little.
Help us now… today, to find fulfillment in Your love,
May we discover all you have to give,
And seek You while we yet have the gift of days.
Lift us O God, to a higher plane of living,

as we lift our hearts and minds and souls into Your Holy presence.
Make it so God! Amen!

We light a candle today to represent the Spirit burning within us, and among us, guiding our time together. (light candle) Amen.

Our First Testament reading this morning from the prophet Isaiah reflects on the ancient Israelite’s hope in the covenant with their God in the face of exile and hardship.  As we listen to these words, let’s reflect on where we find hope in our journeys of faith, and how we might offer that hope to others.

First Testament Reading – Isaiah 55:1-5 CEV

If you are thirsty,  come and drink water! If you don’t have any money, come, eat what you want! Drink wine and milk, without paying a cent.
Why waste your money on what really isn’t food? Why work hard for something that doesn’t satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and you will enjoy the very best foods.

Pay close attention! Come to me and live.
I will promise you the eternal love and loyalty that I promised David.
I made him the leader and ruler of the nations;  he was my witness to them.

You will call out to nations you have never known. And they have never known you, but they will come running
because I am the Lord,
the holy God of Israel,  and I have honored you

 

Scripture Video Isaiah 55:1-5The Lord’s Invitation
Lectionary bible reading

A Time of Prayer

Today we come together as a community to share together our joys and
concerns, and lift them to God in prayer.  If you would like to share a
request to be included in our communal prayer time, please leave
a comment in the video below, or email myself at:  vicarglenn [at] gmail [dot] com,
and I’ll make sure to include that request in next week’s service, as well
as send a prayer chain email, if you would like.

Joys and Concerns

Today, let’s continue to keep Grace Edmark in our prayers, as she continues to struggle with some health issues, and adjusting to her new life at Northhaven, as well as her family as they continue to support her in her struggles.

Let’s also keep her grandchild Bryn in our prayers, as she faces some challenges as well.

We also lift Kathy Edmark’s mother, Donna Boulton, who fell and broke her hip, requiring stabilization surgery.  May she experience healing and swift recover, and may her family feel God’s strength and comfort.

Finally, we remember those this morning facing uncertain employment and income.  May they find security and relief.

Let’s bring these concerns, and those we may carry in our own hearts to God in prayer together.

Pastoral Prayer

Loving God, You are our Creator and Sustainer. When You open Your hand,

You satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing. And so we look to
You whenever we are in need, trusting in Your love and Your abundant goodness.

As You once fed the hungry crowds with five loaves and two small fish,

we ask that You would again fill those who are empty this day.

Pour out Your Spirit on all who hunger and thirst.

 

We pray for those who are physically hungry—whose stomachs are empty.

We think especially of the people in Somalia and Eastern Africa who are facing critical food shortages; who are suffering the effects of
malnutrition and starvation; and watching helplessly as loved ones die.

We pray for those who are empty emotionally—who are lonely and long for companionship and love, who are caught in the grip of depression,
or overwhelmed with grief.

We pray for those who are spiritually empty—who are troubled, but don’t know where to turn; who long for purpose and meaning, but don’t know
where to look; who need You, but do not yet know You.

God, we praise You for Your abundant gifts in our lives. Pour out Your Spirit on us as well. Fill us with Your compassion and love, so that we would willingly share some of our abundance with those who have need.

Beloved Sustainer, in Your mercy, open Your hand.

Pour out Your Spirit, so that we may be filled.

We pray in the name of Jesus Christ,
who came so that all of humanity might come to know
the abundant life that comes from You.

Amen.

 

Our gospel lesson this morning is a well-known story, the feeding of the five thousand.  As we listen to this story, let’s think about what nourishment we value, and how we share that nourishment with others.

 

Gospel Lesson Matthew 14:13-21 CEV

After Jesus heard about John, he crossed Lake Galilee[a] to go to some place where he could be alone. But the crowds found out and followed him on foot from the towns. 

When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw the large crowd. He felt sorry for them and healed everyone who was sick.

That evening the disciples came to Jesus and said, “This place is like a desert, and it is already late. Let the crowds leave, so they can go to the villages and buy some food.”

Jesus replied, “They don’t have to leave. Why don’t you give them something to eat?”

But they said, “We have only five small loaves of bread[b] and two fish.” 

Jesus asked his disciples to bring the food to him, 

and he told the crowd to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up toward heaven and blessed the food. Then he broke the bread and handed it to his disciples, and they gave it to the people.

After everyone had eaten all they wanted, Jesus’ disciples picked up twelve large baskets of leftovers.

There were about five thousand men who ate, not counting the women and children.

 

Gospel Video Matthew 14:13-21 – Jesus Feeds The Five Thousand
  Lectionary bible reading

Message – Love Feast

Have you ever noticed that wherever food is present, Jesus is there?  As often as he was praying, he was sharing food.  Late in his ministry, he even identified himself with bread and wine – staples in the Mediterranean diet, then as now.  Food nourishes, brings pleasure and comfort; it fills us up – sometimes it makes us too full.  Without food, we are cranky, confused. We have a word for it today, “hangry.”  Hungry plus angry.  We might lose our way, become disoriented, lose our mental balance.  I’m one that’s affected by getting “hangry.”  Add tired to the mix and I become quite the grouch.  But food is a basic necessity.  It’s essential to our bodies and minds functioning properly.

When the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, they were given manna for food: nothing fancy, just filling. The people became so bored eating manna day after day that they complained to God; and yet, they were fed.  Like many other stories in Matthew, there is a certain allusion to his feeding of the multitude and God providing the manna to Moses and the Israelites in Exodus.  Matthew tends to compare Jesus to Moses at every opportunity.  And that was an important connection to make for his Jewish audience.  They were always looking for a connection to the prophets of old, particularly Moses.  That’s the main reason we have the setting for our gospel story today.  Our reading starts with “when Jesus heard what happened…”  The event referred to is the beheading of his prophet cousin, John the Baptist.  People saw him as an important prophet, another Elijah.  In fact, Herod himself thought Jesus was John reincarnated. 

So as he had before when things got stressful, he removed himself to a solitary place for meditation and reflection.  But he did not go alone this time.  His disciples were with him, and they were soon followed by a great multitude from the surrounding towns and villages.  These were people who loved and believed in John, and saw Jesus as his replacement and successor.  They were on the shore, and he had the boat brought in, and ministered to them, healing the sick and spending time among them.  Yet as the day wore on, people began to be hungry.  Many may even have become “hangry.”  His disciples, always the logical, sensible ones, want to disperse the crowd to go into the local towns to get their own food.  That would be the sensible thing, right? The disciples want to make sure the crowd gets some nourishment. Yet God’s way often is not what we would choose to do, with our own worldly logic.  That would make sense.  A big, hangry crowd isn’t a good thing.  Circumstances could get out of control with 5000 people like that going without dinner. 

Of course, I’d feel bad for the employees at the nearby inns if they did disperse.  I thought a bus pulling up into the McDonald’s parking lot was bad.  Can you imagine thousands of people lining up in the local villages?  Yet in the hospitality tradition of Abraham, he has his disciples bring the little bit of food they do have.  And like the master of a Jewish household, he says a blessing over the bread and breaks it, and gives it and the fish to the disciples to distribute.  And lo and behold, everyone was fed, with 12 baskets of leftovers.  And they were satisfied with what they ate.  Like the Israelites in the desert, the manna Jesus provided them filled their needs. 

But is this story really about the miracle itself?  Is it about Jesus feeding 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.  Or is it more about the compassion he shows to those he met that day?  After all, he initially wanted some quiet time, away from the crowds.  He had just heard about the death of his cousin.  It was not a good day for him personally.  Yet he saw their needs and he met them.  He modeled the compassion of God. 

How often do we find ourselves in that situation?  It’s not the best of days and then you get that call.  Somebody you know is in crisis, or has a problem they need help with.  You just don’t feel up to it, but you respond anyway, and make the difference that person needs at that time.  Often, you find your problems that day were pretty trivial compared to what others were going through.  That’s the kind of compassion our God and our Savior provides to us.  Like the fish and the loaves, we get the food we need when we need it. 

Certainly God provides for our physical sustenance, but more importantly, we get the spiritual support we often desperately need.  All we need to do is approach and welcome God as the crowds followed and welcomed Jesus on that day.  But more than that, we are called as his disciples to distribute that food, real and spiritual as well.  Too often it can be all too easy to fall into the routine of being “admirers” and not real “followers” or disciples of the risen Christ. 

Recently I heard that in Scotland, a voluntary survey was given to law enforcement officers of their religious affiliations. That may not sound very interesting, but what caught my attention was that 8 of the officers claimed their religious affiliation to be “Jedi”. I laughed at the thought, not only because I was sure it was a prank, but also because we used to refer to ourselves as Jedi at seminary, and we called our Sci-Fi loving dean, Jedi Master Steve.  I am a huge fan of Star Wars. I have watched the movies so many times I can quote the dialogue line by line before the actors do. Matthew reminds us today that if we want to grow in my intimacy with our Savior, there is a great difference between an admiring fan and a devoted follower. Jesus searches for and calls His followers to be devoted followers, not admiring fans.  While I am an admiring fan of Star Wars, I am surely not a devoted follower. While Star Wars entertains me, I do not change the way I live or the way I think based on the movie. While I do enjoy the sights, sounds, plot and action that the movies provide, there is nothing significant that changes in my life because of those movies. 

It may be unfortunate, but there are many people in the church who are admiring fans of Jesus. There are many who applaud the carpenter from Nazareth and the cross from two thousand years ago. There are many who enjoy hearing about the miracles Jesus performed, the inspiring stories from the scriptures, and hearing the jokes and stories that the pastor will share during weekend services, however, nothing changes in their day to day lives. There are too many people who speak well of Jesus and the church, but neither He nor His church affects what they do outside the church walls. Jesus entertains them and they enjoy the sights and sounds that the church provides, but there are no significant changes to the way they live or how they think. They are just admiring fans of Jesus. In my walk with Jesus, Matthew reminds me that I must be sure that I am not just an admiring fan but a devoted follower. Jesus says in Matthew to “make disciples of all nations.” He doesn’t want a large crowd of fans speaking well of Him. He doesn’t want fans of the cross and people whose faith simply entails the wearing of a cross around their neck and a bumper sticker on their car.  We’re called to be so much more than that. 

Unlike being a fan, Christ calls us to make real change in our lives, and in the lives of others.  Our faith is to have an impact on who we are, and how we act and live our lives daily.  Jesus wants followers, or disciples, whose hearts are thrown across the line, who make it their passion everyday to please Him, and who are willing to follow Him with a reckless abandon for His cause. I must move from being one who admires what He has done, can do, and is doing, to one who is devoted to following Jesus regardless of the cost and consequences. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Salvation is free, … but discipleship will cost you your life.”  Are you sharing your spiritual food with others?  Are you feeding the hungry, physically and spiritually around you?  We, as disciples, not admirers, are called to reach out to others in need, to answer that call to be there for someone in trouble, to show compassion as our Savior did that day in Galilee.  He provides the manna we need, and in turn, we are to share and multiple that blessing with our own multitudes.  One doesn’t have to be a deacon or minister to provide the support others need.  That is the nature of God’s grace.  It is freely given to us, and we are to freely offer our grace to others.  Like the fish and the loaves, not only is God’s grace sufficient for us, there is an abundance left over for others, enough for everyone. 

It’s not enough just to be a God fan, a Jesus admirer.  We follow a God of action, and we’re called to be out there on our own journey, touching the lives of other with compassion and giving freely of ourselves, not focusing on ourselves.  Once we are fed, we are to spread those extra baskets of spiritual food with others.  Jesus bore witness to our spiritual duty to care for each other.

There is enough for everyone when we live in right relation and harmony, but in reality there are millions of people who live in poverty and are starving, physically and spiritually.
What can we do?
Well, we can do what Jesus did. We provide the best we can and join in the work God is doing around us. We have to work with God and with other people. When we work together and use what we have to do God’s work, God will multiply what we offer.  We are not to be a band-aid that provides a small amount of healing and protection for the hurting people around us, only to be taken off and once again made separate. The church must be fused with those who seek nourishment, working as a unit to bring about healing. Part of our strategy should be to become a vital part of life around us, not just a place for people to visit on the weekends but truly to be a healing place for a hurting world.  For example, ministers take the bread of communion to those in “deserted places”-the sick, dying, imprisoned and elderly. They often feel on the fringe of life, less than appreciated, less than valued. When they receive Communion, the ministers are essentially telling them that they are part of a community, part of the people who are fed by God. 

Those who serve the Lord get to enjoy the fruit of the abundant supply that Jesus gives. Jesus is the example we are to follow. This story is a witness to the power of God. It is a story of grace that is sparked and motivated by the love and compassion of Jesus.  Jesus’ actions with the crowd are actions that even the playing field, actions that make sure everyone is taken care of. They were radical actions at that time, and they are radical actions today. They seem foreign to a culture that is driven by dollars and profit and self-help, and they were so foreign in Jesus’ time that he was put to death over them. But following Jesus is a lifestyle of radical compassion, not just a fan club of ardent admirers. Can we live the same life of compassion for others? How do we share our own manna with others, physically and spiritually? Our world right now is one of great hurt with many living in desperation. The opportunities are many; the workers too few. May we find ways to reach out and show the compassion of Christ, and feed the multitudes of our day.

Amen. 

 

Call to Serve. 

As we continue to seek to be a place of compassion and nourishment
in our community, we ask that you give prayerful consideration as to how you
may support our efforts.  If you would like to make a donation, gifts can still be mailed to our church office, or online donations can be made here. Thanks again for all your support, and may we continue to work together to keep being a place of ministry that seeks to promote
the growth of God’s seeds of shalom around us.  As we listen …, let’s give some thought to what we might do in our own lives to meet the needs of others, modeling the compassion and caring Christ we follow.

 

A Time for Reflection

Reflection on the Word

Will You Let Me Be Your Servant (The Servant Song)
performed by Mutual Kumquat           

 

The Prayer of Thanksgiving

On my own what I have to give doesn’t amount to much in the light of all you have given to me and in the face of so much need. Put together as a community, what we offer you here in love becomes more, not simply added together, but somehow multiplied in its usefulness. We ask you to bless our gifts and with the addition of your blessing, just as it was with the loaves and fishes, there is enough for all. Amen

 

Blessing/Assurance

With the good news of God still moistening our mouths,
let us go seek our salvation with the least of these.
May we be a well of hope to our thirsting neighbors;
an oasis of opportunity to all we encounter.
Amen.

 

Sending Forth

As we extinguish this candle, the visual representation of God’s spirit at work within and among us, let us carry this inside each one of us this week, letting it guide us to lives focused on sharing the compassion and nourishment that are so desperately in need today.  Amen.

Postlude

My Tribute 
words and music by Andraé Crouch,
played by church musician Annie Center, reported under CCLI Streaming license 20261246 

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *