Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Feeding the Five Thousand

Sunday, July 22, 2012
Proper 11B
Mark 6:30-44

Good morning, everybody!

One of the many things that makes Jesus so special is how much he cares about people.  He cares about the whole person--our spiritual needs, our emotional needs and our physical needs.  Let me show you what I mean.

One day, Jesus was with his disciples.  They had all been working very hard and were tired.  Jesus suggested they all go away together to someplace quiet for a rest.  So they all boarded a  boat and went on a short trip for what they thought was going to be some R&R--rest and relaxation.

But some people saw where Jesus ad the disciples were going.  They told their friends who told their friends, and by the time the boat carrying Jesus and the disciples landed on shore, there was a huge crowd waiting for them.

Now remember, Jesus and his pals made this trip to get some rest, and here was an enormous, unexpected welcoming committee in need of a leader.  Jesus could have told the people, "I'm sorry, but this is my day off.  I just don't have the energy to speak to you today."  But he didn't.  He cared too much about the people who came to hear his teachings about God.  The Bible says, "He had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd."  So he taught them.  He taught them all day, sharing what they needed to learn to live a life of faith in God.

Finally, the disciples came to Jesus and said, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send the people away so they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat."  Jesus answered them, "You give them something to eat."

This may have been a reasonable thing to say if there were ten people there that day, or maybe even fifty.  But the Bible counts five thousand men gathered to hear Jesus, and that doesn't even include the women and children!  There was no way the disciples had enough money to buy food for all of those hungry people, and they told Jesus that.

He told them to check and see how much food they had with them.  The disciples reported back that they had five loaves of bread and two fish.  Hardly enough tuna sandwiches for a crowd that size!  But Jesus cared about the people.  He cared that they know about God's love, and he cared that they not go home with hungry tummies.  So he ordered the disciples to have the people sit on the green grass in groups.  Then something amazing happened.

Jesus took the five loaves of bread and the two fish.  He looked up to heaven and blessed and divided the food in pieces and gave it to the disciples to serve to the people.  And every, single person in that huge crowd had more than enough to eat.  In fact, when everyone was finished eating their fill, there were five baskets of food left over.

Then, only after everyone was full, Jesus sent them home.  Jesus cares about us in every way, just like he cared about the people gathered that day so long ago.  And Jesus calls upon the church to carry on his work to care for people in every way.  The church to this day ministers to peoples' needs--teaching about God's love; caring for the sick through hospitals and clinics; feeding the hungry in our town and around the world.  We do all of this work in Jesus' name, because we love him.

Let's Pray:  Good and gracious God, we thank-you for sending Jesus into the world to show how much you love and care about us in every way.  Help us to share your love and caring in our world today, and in Jesus' name.  Amen

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Worship the King

David Bringing of the Ark of the Covenant
into Jerusalem
by David Brassey Hole
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Proper 10B
II Samuel 6: 1-19

Good morning, boys and girls!  I'm glad you came to church this morning.  When we gather together in this holy place on this special day each week, we see our friends, and we learn new things about Jesus, and sometimes we eat cookies and drink lemonade before we go home, right?  But the number one reason we all come together at church each Sunday morning is to worship God.

We are God's people, and we know that every good thing in our lives and in the world are gifts from God.  We know that God made us and we belong to God.  We know that God knows everything and God is all-powerful.  And above all, we know that God loves us and wants the best for us.  God is truly awesome.  And so we come together to honor God each week--to show the Lord our deepest, heart-felt love, respect and thanks.

Different people worship God in different ways.  In some communities, people cover their heads as a sign of respect.  Some churches burn incense.  We light candles, don't we.  Most congregations sing songs of praise, say prayers, read from the Bible and hear a sermon.  Sometimes a choir or a soloist sings a special song, called an anthem to honor God.  Sometimes various musical instruments are used in worship--such as an organ, guitars, drums, a harp or trumpet or flute.  Some congregations use none of these things in their worship.  They sit quietly in prayer and meditation.  Occasionally a member of the congregation will feel moved by the Spirit to speak and share their thoughts, but otherwise the worship service is quiet.

A sanctuary is the special, or sacred, space in which the congregation gathers to worship.  Some sanctuaries are very old, and some are new.  Some sanctuaries are super plain and some are ultra-fancy.  Some have pictures in the windows made of stained glass.  Some have banners hanging on the walls, and some are decorated with statues.  Sanctuaries are decorated in the way the people of that church believe will make God happy and help the people to worship best.

Some churches have big screens, like movie screens, in the sanctuary.  Pictures and videos displayed on the screens are used as a form of worship.  Sometimes the people of God will put on a play or a skit, or even dance as a way to worship God.

The Bible tells us about a time when King David was bringing the Ark of the Covenant home into the City of David, or Jerusalem.  The Ark of the Covenant was a special box that held the stone tablets which had the Ten Commandments written on them.  The Ark of the Covenant was so important to King David and his people, it was like they were bringing God home to live.

Now, David was king of Israel, but even King David knew that God was more important and powerful than he was.  David was filled with love and respect for God.  The ark was heavy and carried by several men.  Thousands of people came out to welcome God and the ark home.  David led the parade and worshipped God as he went, dancing his heart out the whole way.  The Bible tells us that "David danced before the Lord with all his might."

There are many ways to worship God.  Not all of them have to happen in a church building or sanctuary, and not only on Sunday.  Every time you show love and respect to God, you honor the Lord with your worship.  When you pray at home, when you sing a song in the car or on the playground that you've learned at church school, when you offer kindness to another person--all of these are acts of worship and honor God.

Let's worship God now with prayer.

Awesome God, We thank-you for your many gifts to us.  Help us to live our lives in a way that shows you how grateful we are.  Amen.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Spreading the Good News

Spreading the Good News
Proper 9B
July 8, 2012
Mark 6:6b-13
Prop: A World Map or Globe

Good morning, everyone!

I want to show you a couple of things on the map (globe) this morning.  This is a map of the whole world.  We are right here, in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  (Point to your location, and put a sticky note with the name of your town and country on it.)  Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus lived here.  ({Put a sticky note on Galilee.) 

Now, Jesus lived in a time before television or the Internet; before radio or telephones or even telegraphs.  Yet the message of God's love and forgiveness through Jesus, the Christ--what Christians call the Gospel message--spread from the small area of Galilee all the way to Delaware, where we live.  Today people all over the world have heard about Jesus and God's love. 

The Gospel message did not travel across the globe overnight, and spreading the Good News of the Gospel so far and wide required the hard work of many, many people.  We call these people missionaries.

The first missionaries were sent out by Jesus himself.  He told his followers to pack light and to travel from town to town, telling anyone who would listen that God loved them and wanted them to live as children of God.  Then, after Jesus' death and resurrection, the disciples travelled even further from home, sharing God's love and telling people the Good News about Jesus.

The Church grew as more and more people heard and believed the Gospel message.  Missionaries shared the love of God in many ways.  Sometimes they preached the Good News in worship services.  Sometimes they practiced God's love by giving the people they served help with hospitals and clinics, schools and farms.

For example, (fill in with an example from your own church's ministry), in Delaware, the Presbyterian churches have a sister relationship with the Presbyterian churches in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Africa.  It is right here on the map.  We have helped our sister churches in the Congo to build schools, to feed prisoners and to create piggeries for raising pigs, just to name a few projects.  And the churches in the Congo have sent missionaries to Delaware, to share their love of God and their enthusiasm for the Gospel with us.

There are still many people in the world who have never heard of Jesus, or who don't know that God sent Jesus for them.  And a person doesn't need to travel far and wide to be a missionary.  We don't need to do big things like building hospitals in Africa or churches in Korea, or digging wells in South America to be missionaries, either.  You can be missionaries right here in our own home town.  Every time you show another person kindness, or invite a friend to Sunday school, or show someone you care, you are sharing God's love and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It takes all kinds of love--fancy and simple--to spread the Good News.

Let's Pray.  Kind and Loving God, we thank-you for those who worked in good faith to spread the Good News of the Gospel so that we might know of your love and forgiveness in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Help us to live lives that reflect that love, and to find ways to share the Good News with others.  In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.