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Sunday 25th July 2021
Call to Worship
Leader : From meagre offerings to abundant gifts;
rejoice one and all, for Jesus is in our midst.
ALL : Feed us, Jesus, and fill us with hope.
Leader : Be glad, friends, Jesus has bread
and fish to spare.
ALL : Free us, Jesus, from the pursuit
of food that does not satisfy.
Leader : Sing for joy, people of God;
God gathers up the pieces of our lives,
that nothing may be lost.
ALL : Thanks be to God!
Prayers of Adoration, Confession and Renewal
Almighty and loving God,
You bring the day to dawn, and the night to filter away,
You have set a time for the ebb and flow of nature,
You have put pace to the earth’s breathing,
You have commanded the wind and the seas,
Yet still, you care for each one of us.
We give thanks this morning
for the dawning of a new day,
For the beauty of nature,
The stillness of the air,
The richness and abundance all around us.
The greening of grass,
And summer growth all around.
We give thanks O God
for your love, shown to us in Jesus.
Your love that carries on seeking us out,
Time is no barrier to your love,
Your patience is limitless,
and your love is endless.
Yet, how often God do we rush past life,
not making time,
time for you,
time for our faith,
time for others or ourselves.
We carry on deceiving ourselves
that we live fulfilled lives, and all is well,
Yet we know that all is not right
and we yearn to make change.
Minister: Lord, have mercy
All: Christ, have mercy
Minister: Lord, have mercy
help us to make time to be your disciples,
help us to make time to gather our lives around our faith,
help us to make time to show our faith to the world around,
help us to grow in faith, in life and hope.
Your forgiveness knows no limits,
You renew us time and time again,
Strengthen us as we gather in worship
Deepen our faith, to live more in trust of you
Draw us together, as a community of faith,
Filled with the bread of life,
And guided by your everlasting spirit.
Always ready to meet the challenge ahead.
Reading John 6:1-21
Hymn 485 – Dear Lord and Father of mankind
Sermon – John 6:1-21
There is something oddly satisfying about the ability to eat outside, to eat al-fresco. Whether it is because in Scotland it is something rarely achievable without a thermal blanket and umbrella, or appeals to our inner need to appreciate the outdoors and spend more time outside the house and gives a sense of freedom. Whether it is breakfast on a balcony, barbecue in the back garden, picnic in the park or a sandwich on top of a mountain, the combination of food and fresh air is an endearing combination, and if it wasn’t for the Scottish midgie it might be achievable more often!
The act of being able to share food with others is also an act of generosity and hospitality, it has been central to Christian ministry since Jesus’ day, we see it in today’s passage and we see it regularly in the church when we share communion together in worship. But what happens when you don’t have enough to go around? I remember well one communion service when we almost ran out of wine, not because we had miscounted, but more people came that day than we had had for a long time.
It is not a huge leap of the imagination to understand the scene when more guests turn up than you expect. The flustered panic to be generous and feed extra people, whilst at the same time giving the assurance that all is well.
We can imagine Philip’s face when Jesus springs on him the need to feed crowds of people. It’s the same face pulled when you don’t have what you need to pull something off, and the gap between what you have and what you need is so large as to be paralyzing.
It only takes a glance at the news to have this feeling. We live in a world where people are being marginalised because of poverty and the inability to pay for vaccinations, when some parts of the world have no access to the medicine they need or the equipment to aid their recovery. We live in a world where 25,000 children die every day from hunger-related causes. We live in a world where violence is seen as the solution rather than the problem. We live in a world where parents and children can be separated at a border. We live in a world when people can be killed for the colour of their skin, or the religion they practice or the uniform they wear. It’s a world of fear, darkness, and scarcity, and somehow we have set up a game that only a few people can win while most lose. And any change in who is winning must be resisted, because there are only so many winning spots to go around.
Jesus had been remonstrating with some Jewish leaders who had been accusing him of not only working on the Sabbath, but are questioning him “who does he think he is”, and don’t believe for a minute that he is the son of God. so after a fiery exchange and discussion, and being followed by crowds of people after his healing of a lame man, he tries to find some space. And so he and the disciples get hold of a boat and set off in the hope of finding time for themselves.
Yet still they are pursued. So Jesus and the disciples climb up the mountain, and for a moment, peace. Before long, over the brow of the hill, the crowds come. But being Jesus he is filled with compassion, and right away, he began to minister to them, healing the sick. As the people hung around, soaking up that ethos of care and compassion, the day wore on. The disciples wanted to bring what must have been a long and tiring day for Jesus to a close as evening came. But that was not to be. Jesus compassion was far from exhausted. And he had something special in store, not just for the crowd but for his disciples too.
The writer John is keen, throughout the gospel, to point out to us the nature of God as mirrored in the actions of a Jesus.
In the story of the feeding of the 5000, we are confronted with the overwhelming compassionate nature of God. A God who is affected by those in need, whether it be hunger, poverty, injustice, grief or pain, struggling with life, tired or confused, and shares that, but in the midst reaches out – reaches out to heal and to feed, reaches out showing God’s care.
In this story we are confronted by an enabling God. A God who equips ordinary people to respond to need and to feed those around them, to enable people of faith to move from fear to sharing their abundance of gifts. Each has a part to play in the story. Peter, who sees the need, brings forward the little boy and his meagre supply of loaves and fishes, and there is abundance.
It’s no coincidence that John follows this story with the account of Jesus walking on water. The disciples saw a figure coming toward them and they were terrified once again. Who wouldn’t be? Jesus calls out to them and tells them not to fear. Jesus takes the disciples from fear to faith.
When God’s abundant generosity is shown something in us huddles in fear. Jesus still calls out amidst the storm “do not be afraid” for God is present in generosity and love. God multiplies abundance and ensures that all are fed. If we can overcome the fear, we then become the embodiment of Christ we seek to be and the boat reaches the shoreline.
In our world there are plenty resources to go around and we are called to live a life with a narrative of generosity. In response to vaccine poverty in some parts of the world Unicef and Christian Aid and other organisations have set up ways to give thanks if we have already been vaccinated, and donate an amount in thanksgiving so that others in the world too can be vaccinated.
Ordinary people working miracles, reaching out in compassion to feed one another. Whatever else is going on in the gospel passage we read today, this is a passage that continually reveals new things to us time and time again. A God moved with compassion. A God who enables ordinary people to respond and to effect change. A God who enables disciples to move from fear to trust and to share God’s love with generosity and abundance.
Prayers of Gratitude and Concern
we give thanks for the beauty of life,
the warmth of summer
and the time to take rest
and pause in daily routine.
We give thanks
that, despite our human frailty
and our sometimes weak hold on you,
we have confidence in the gospel
that nothing can destroy or spoil or wither
the hope and love that you have for us.
God, you have created a world full of abundance
teach us to live graciously in our sharing.
We pray for those who hunger in this world,
those whose only food is what others don’t want,
whose diet depends on luck, not on planning,
where hunger and thirst are daily worries.
Lord feed your people
using our skills and conscience,
and eradicate from our politics and lives
the apathy to hunger which comes from over-eating.
God, we pray for a world of imbalance,
and for those who suffer from absence,
absence of love, of safety, of medical supplies,
and that we who have much,
can share with those who have little,
and that the world might address the imbalances,
to share resources and your love.
You are constantly on the move,
In and through our life and the world,
Lead us to new places and horizons,
Understanding your will for us and the world more clearly.
Our Father in heaven
Hallowed be your name
your kingdom come
your will be done
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Hymn 532 – Lord you have come to the seashore
And now lets us go out into the world,
Renewed in hope,
filled with the love of Christ our lord.
Thank you for joining with me for this time of worship.
And the blessing of God Almighty,
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
Be with you this day and everyday. Amen