Sun., July 25, 2021


Welcome and Announcements

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to be together with you in Christ’s name to worship. When you are present with us, Christ is present through our gathering.
We are getting closer to September and are getting ready to reopen in full. We pray that God will guard and guide us and our country as we begin a new way of being together in God’s name, building neighbourhoods and communities full of love that Christ continues to share.

The session will have its meeting on Wednesday, August 4th at 7:15 pm following our Wednesday gettogether at 6:30 pm to plan for our Fall season.

We are asking for your thoughts and prayers regarding Christ’s ministry. If you have any idea about how we can start a ministry of care and ways to love our neighbours, please let us know. Some ideas we have received so far are having social gatherings where everyone can participate, various sharing opportunities, etc.

We will begin our pastoral visits in August. If you desire a visit from your minister, please, send an email or leave a message on our answering machine.

Praise the Name of Jesus
Praise the name of Jesus,
Praise the name of Jesus,
He's my Rock,
He's my Fortress,
He's my Deliverer,
In Him will I trust.
Praise the name of Jesus.

Call to Worship

Christ is our beginning and ending. With him we find what it means for us to live to love and serve God in all of life. Let us come together to worship and praise the very one who called us into life with his love.

Jesus, Name above all names
Jesus, Name above all names,
Beautiful Saviour, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us,
Blessed Redeemer,
Living Word.

Prayer

O Lord, we come with hearts full of joy. This is the joy that comes from your invitation to partake in through your Son our Lord in this feast that your Spirit has prepared. We come to bless and thank you. We bless you for the life into which we are called. We thank you for the love in Christ that makes our lives purposeful. We give you praise for this grace.
Focus us now to set our eyes on you, our ears on your word, our hands on your hand, our feet on the solid ground of your mercy. Make this worship acceptable to you by sending us your Spirit to complete it in ways that you are glorified. In your Son’s love, we pray. Amen.

So what can we really do? We are a small congregation. Most people who are active in our church are fairly elderly by the standard of this world. Hey, I am even considered to be old in the eyes of thirty and forty somethings. Every time I meet those young ministers in their forties, they want to know when I am retiring. They mean this in a good way. They want me to rest and take my life easy. They tell me that I have done enough. So in this situation of scarcity, what can we do? Aren’t those youngsters right? Why should we insist on being a church when we can go and join others in retirement and enjoy life without work? Is it just that we still want to be considered for being able to contribute something to our society? Be counted as still living and worthy contributors? Refusing simply to disappear into a beautiful sunset?

We have grown up being taught that God can do anything and everything God wishes. What we do not know is how God’s plan fits in with ours. As global warming or climate change continues to batter us with terrifying temperatures and unforeseen weather conditions everywhere, we wonder if God is carrying out any plans. Of course, our desire or our projection on God is that in spite of everything we have done to create these atrocious conditions by over stretching God’s creation, we pray to God to put everything back for us to do whatever we want as we have done up until now. By saying sorry, we expect from God that we should be given reprieves from all that we have done. In the meantime, all those who no longer believe in God are advocating various carbon reduction measures to curb the current climate crisis. These activists and concerned citizens want to be

god-like by saving the planet Earth. Whether people are praying to God or trying their best to save the planet, all these are important tasks as human beings trying to survive in the current difficulties.

What can we, being so small, do anything to make a difference in this world? Are we to aim big and pray to God for deliverance of the world? Are we to join in on efforts to reduce carbon emissions to stop climate change? Is there anything more for us to do other than what we have been doing? Some people among us have declared us to be dead in a few years already. A few of us are already resigned to eventual closure of the church by saying that God’s will will be done. So what can we as a small church do?

I’ve got a river of live
I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me,
Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see;
Opens prison doors sets the captives free,
I’ve got a River of Life flowing out of me.
Spring up, O well, within my soul!
Spring up, O well, and make me whole.
Spring up, O well, and give to me
That life abundantly.

Scripture: John 6:1-21

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?" He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, "Six months' wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?" Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost." So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world." When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

In this passage, we see God meeting the needs of people through Jesus’ simple act of caring. The Church has used this passage to explain to people about God’s miraculous power, God’s love, and God’s deliverance. The symbolic meaning of the passage has been parsed by preachers without ceasing for the past two millennia. Today, we will look at this passage in a different light.

I have been wondering about five loaves and two fish. These were very ordinary loaves for ordinary people. They were barley loaves. No fancy, here. We find out about a boy who brought them, probably as his lunch and supper. His mother had a foresight to pack them for him so that he would not be hungry. We know nothing about the boy, his family or anything else. All we know is that when Jesus asked Philip where to buy food for all who were coming to be with him. Philip immediately gets concerned about the lack of money because it will cost a large sum. He does not even think about where. He simply thinks about how much. Then, Andrew mentions about five loaves and two fish. Andrew’s mind is on how little these are compared to the huge crowd coming to them. Both Philip and Andrew are on the subject of the impossibility of feeding so many. No one is thinking about the boy.

Why a boy? Why not a man who cares for Jesus, or a woman who was tending to Jesus and his entourage? Why not a super rich person like Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos? Why a nameless boy? It appears that this boy was very near Jesus and his disciples. He must have heard Jesus asking about food. Just like a little boy who wants to help, he seemed to have volunteered to give up his meal right there and then. Just like most children who do not think twice about consequences, but hearing someone’s needs. So many people who are childlike make such gestures. That is why many beggars take advantage of naïve or innocent people who do not think twice, but reaches for their wallets or purses. Andrew did not have to ask if they could take the food from a boy. Jesus did not have to convince the boy that much could be done with so little. The child did not care. He gave.

God’s plenty in this case did not have to be much. For five thousand, the entire amount God needed was no more than five loaves and two fish. For this miracle to begin there are two things necessary: 1. The boy’s will and actions of giving all he had; 2. Jesus’ willingness and actions of working with so little. Would anything happen if the boy was willing and able to give only half of what he had or less? Would Jesus have fed five thousand if the boy gave four loaves and one fish? We, as readers, are not given much to muse about and imagine. Of course in the absence of any details we can let our imaginations run wild. However, the passage does not offer any speculations.

Through Andrew the boy offers what he had when Jesus asks Philip where they could buy food to feed five thousand who were coming to them and Philip being aghast at needing so much money. Of course we can surmise from the stories in the four Gospels that giving everything one has up to follow Christ is the basis. We also know from what Jesus spoke of being childlike why this boy’s action is not so out of ordinary. Of course, from the Book of Acts we know offering Jesus only the half as Ananias and Sapphira while withholding the other half was seen as less than adequate. In this context, we know that the boy giving to Jesus all he had makes this feeding of five thousand part of what it means to follow Christ.

In His Time
In His time, in His time,
He makes all things beautiful in His time.
Lord, please show me ev’ry day
As You’re teaching me Your way
That You do just what You say in Your time.

In Your time, in Your time,
You make all things beautiful in Your time.
Lord, my life to You I bring,
May each song I have to sing
Be to You a lovely thing in Your time.

I have been meditating on this boy’s willingness to give everything he had as well as how little amount is sufficient in Jesus’ hand to satisfy the hunger of so many people. It is particularly poignant because in our world of plenty, we seem to put feeding of so many hungry people in our world as one task left to some well meaning volunteers rather than as the main task of humanity. The statistics are daunting: The United Nations estimates 821 million people do not have enough food to eat and go to sleep hungry each night. In the meantime, the rich are getting richer while the poor are becoming poorer.
Unlike our leaders, when Jesus looked at so many people coming after him, he turned to Philip knowing he was going to feed them all. In Canada and elsewhere, the world has more than enough food to feed everyone. Indeed, there has never been a time when so much food has been available for everyone. Yet, we are living in a world where hundreds of millions are going hungry each day and do not have enough to feed themselves fully. Unlike Jesus, our leaders, including church leaders, do not see the need. Not only that, in churches, ordinary members are talking more often just like Philip and Andrew--we either have too little money or supply to satisfy the large crowd. No wonder we get paralyzed and are unable to be the hands of Jesus offering them food to give as much as they want.

Leaders, especially those who are following Christ, ought to become more like Jesus in this passage. Yet, they are turning their heads away from the crowd who are hungry and tired. They, like Philip and Andrew, see how little we have. They are unable to imagine what God is capable of doing with so little when those who have very little like the boy entrust them with all they have in Jesus’ hands.

Jesus was not gobsmacked by so little that the boy brought in the face of such a big need. Rather, Jesus gave thanks and began distributing them. Unlike many Christians leaders of today, Jesus did not keep any of the food for himself. He gave to the disciples to give all away. Through disciples Jesus gave to everyone as much as everyone wanted.

Today’s leaders, on the other hand, are incapable of giving without taking for themselves first. In this case, because they are not willing to give everything they have, they are not able to receive and distribute to find out how far so little given by such a small person can go. Today’s leaders have lost sight and vision to see how the entire world can have plenty if everyone lives in the Spirit of love willing to give everything one has.

Those who give up all to Christ, on the other hand, are able to see and participate in this new world where Christ receives so graciously even the smallest of amount to satisfy the hunger of all who come to him. This is how God’s reign comes to earth. With our small amounts that the riches and the powerful scoff at and throw away, God receives them and with so little feeds so many of this world. In our society geared for the rich, we have forgotten the power of the widow’s might. In pursuit of riches, the world has forgotten that what we perceive as so little or so weak becomes the basis of God’s true power to tend to so many in need. This is why we are a church, small yet full of God’s power, weak yet an unfailing hand of God in this world. By this small and weak church God demonstrates to the world the unlimited grace and love.

Prayer

O God, you are the centre of our confusing and troubled life. With all kinds of difficulties people are facing in terms of weather, diseases, and economic troubles, you call us to focus on you. We thank you for life in Christ where we are reminded of your gracious blessings of abundance and care. You have provided us sufficiently in all things. You have met our needs so that we may flourish.

Yet, knowing so many in our world are struggling to have their needs met, wrestling with poverty and hunger, struggling under the weight of hopelessly horrifying conditions, we come humbly to you in an attempt to find a better way to live in love. We hear how our Canadian, American and Russian brothers and sisters are being evacuated due to forest fires, how many people in different parts of the world have faced death due to flooding caused by the deluges of rains, how rising numbers of people are suffering and dying because of COVID 19, and how there are more and more who are becoming homeless without places to go. These terrible situations are paralyzing us in every way. Fill us with faith and hope in ways that we may find ways of your love so that instead of feeling powerless, we may extend your love, instead of falling into despair, we may share life as your Son shared his with us.
In your mercy focus us on the gift of Spirit. Help us to live the life where we bear the fruit of the Spirit. Point to a way, O Lord, to be your refuge for all those who are in need of rest.

We give you thanks for keeping us under your will through out this very difficult time. In you our lives have been secure and peaceful. In our thanks, we lift up our personal concerns because many of us continue to suffer physical pain and long wait for medical interventions which have been postponed due to the pandemic restrictions. Give us patience as we wait for treatments that are long overdue.
In your mercy, hear our prayers that are individually unique in each of us. Some of us are fearful of impending death, confused over weakening bodies, tearful when pain strikes debilitating us from doing any regular chores, and saddened over our inability to do what we used to do without any difficulties. Know that everyone of us put our trust in you and do our best to get through each day with faith, hope, and love. Remember us when we are in need.

Because our words are not sufficient in expressing our thoughts too deep in our hearts, we lift them up to you through the prayer that your Son has taught us. Hear our prayers when we say together,

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 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 (Blessed be the Lord God Almighty)

Offering Prayer

O God, we offer to you small portions of the blessings we have received from you as symbols of our lives enriched by your grace. Through this confession of love, we commit our lives in your hands. Receive these offerings.
We empty ourselves before you through these symbolic gifts. We now ask you to fill us with your love and grace. Make us more like your Son by filling us with your unconditional love and grace. Shape us as the body of your Son in this world to share you with the world in need. As the world struggles with continual threats of COVID virus in all iterations, send us into the world to be your presence. Give us courage and faith to witness your presence to all who are in need because of illnesses, weaknesses, and poverty.

In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.

King of kings

Offering Prayer
Benediction