Sunday (ZOOM) Message: “Feeding the Five Thousand”

Leading Worship: Elder Bill Davis and the Rev Dr. John Carr
Pre-recorded Music provided by Gord McCrostie and Binaifer (Binu) Kapadia

Gathering

Music:  As the deer

 As the deer pants for the water
So my soul longs after you
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship you

 You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship you

Songwriter: Martin J. Nystrom; 1984 © Maranatha! Music, The Copyright Co.
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Greeting: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you…”   

Welcome and announcements:

Welcome to this Worship Service with the Congregation of Dayspring Presbyterian Church, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada – whether you are nearby or far away.

We celebrate the Lord’s Supper, today, so we invite everyone to have a piece of bread or a cracker and some wine or fruit juice available, so that you can share in Communion. Please note that our children share with us in the Lord’s Supper.

Additional Announcements …

 Call to Worship

L: Each day God opens to us new doors of potential and hope.

P: God offers us new challenges and a new call to commitment and service.

L: God offers us fresh possibilities for deepened relationship.

P: In worship, we hear the challenge voiced, gain strength for the tasks ahead, and learn and grow in our faith.

ALL: We are here to worship God!

 Prayer of approach: We pray …

Loving God, in You we know the power of redemption. You stand among us as Light and Life even in our darkest times.

Elusive God, Companion on the way, you walk behind, beside, and beyond. You catch us unawares.

You break through the disillusionment and despair when it is clouding our vision so that we may find our way and journey on.

You stand with us and are hoping for us even when we find it difficult to hope for ourselves.

Prayer of confession

We are mindful, this day of the fact that we stand before you revealed in all our weaknesses and faults. You know what goes on in our minds and you see the way we behave towards each other in the human family.

We are mindful also of the ways in which our environment cries out in pain because of the many wounds with which we have afflicted it.

Now, we reflect on the way we have lived our lives and, in the silence of our own hearts, we confess our personal sin and waywardness …

Prayer for God’s help

We know that we as individuals – along with organizations and institutions – have a role to play in the healing process.  But we also know that Your love and care is, itself, a healing balm for human pain and for the consequences of human sin.

And so we live with trust and faith, knowing that Your loving “arms” are around us and Your loving “hands” are underneath our world. AMEN.

 Assurance of God’s forgiveness

We receive God’s full forgiveness when we own up to our sin. To confess a sin means to uncover it and call it exactly what God calls it. This honest confession must include the willingness to forsake the sin. God promises not only to forgive us but also to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. To God be the glory. AMEN.

Children’s time:   Heather Tansem (Prayer & Lord’s Prayer)

Music:  I will trust in the Lord

 I will trust in the Lord
I will trust in the Lord
I will trust in the Lord
’til I die

African American spiritual public domain

Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:13-21 (NRSV)

13 Now when Jesus heard about the tragic death of John (the person who had baptized Him), He withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When He went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, along with many women and children.

 

Today’s Message: “Feeding the Five Thousand”

The Revised Common Lectionary lists several passages for today. The message is informed by three of those passages but, as you will have inferred, I am focussing on the passage from Matthew. However, I did do a lot of thinking about the interplay among three of the listed Scripture passages in preparation for worship, this morning:

  1. Isaiah 55:1-5: An Invitation to Abundant Life
  2. Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21: God’s Compassion for us Humans
  3. Matthew 14:13-21: Feeding the Five Thousand

Three things stood out for me as I reflected on these passages.

  1. God wants the best for God’s people.
  2. God is thoughtful about our situation as humans.
  3. God wants us to look after one another in the human community.

First, a comment about the last verse in the passage from Matthew’s Gospel.

Matthew is telling the story from a Jewish perspective, and from a Jewish perspective, households were under the control of the husband/father. We don’t think of families in that way – so the language is a bit awkward for us. But Matthew is basically saying that there were 5,000 families there.

Secondly, it is unlikely that 20,000 people would have gathered together on the shores of that lake. Undoubtedly the crowd was large – leading to the recording of that figure. But storytellers of that day were prone to embellishment of reality – speaking figuratively, not literally. So, at the literal level, there were just a lot of people there.

While Jesus’ teaching and compassionate care for those who were sick is important, Mathew’s emphasis seems to be on the way in which the people who gathered on that day were fed.

Jesus really wanted to spend that day grieving the death of his friend and mentor, John the Baptist. However, the needs of those who came were great and Jesus’ loving heart caused Him to set aside his own need and be the pastor to all those people.

It’s difficult for us to understand how a large crowd could be fed on five loaves and two fish. There are two ways in which theologians explain this.

  1. That this was a symbolic act – much like modern day observances of the Lord’s Supper. People were fed spiritually, not physically.
  2. That the fact that some offered up the food that they had brought created a cascade effect – with everyone who had food sharing with those who did not.

I prefer the second explanation – which really reflects what happens in everyday life.

One person acting kindly towards others creates a ripple or cascade effect. That is, at least some who see another behaving kindly and with care for others are motivated to do the same – and the ripples spread out into the surrounding community and even have the power to transform culture.

It seems to me that that ripple effect has continued to be experienced by many throughout the world as the years and centuries have unfolded since those days when Jesus was among us humans in the Middle East.

I have not been involved personally in Dayspring’s Food Bank Depot. But I know from stories Audrey and others have told how the act of serving others in that way impacts on those who have been served – as well as on those who provide the service and on others of us who are supportive in various ways of the Thursday afternoon teams.

The same can be said of the “Jam and Butter project” which Darolyn inspired us to get involved in – providing breakfast materials for young kids who come to school without having had breakfast.

As a congregation, we love to eat together. And that’s a good thing. There’s an even better thing about that. Did you know that, a few years ago, when a couple of Food Bank clients saw that we were having a congregational dinner, they wandered in and asked if they could have some food? Immediately, they were provided with more food than they could eat and it seems to me that they might even have taken some extras home with them.

And then there is the experience that our young people had, feeding the clients of The Mustard Seed in Edmonton’s City Centre – and the gallons of soup Dsypringers have donated over the years to the Edmonton Urban Native Ministry.

Also, many of the folks of our congregation help to “feed others” in other ways, literally or figuratively, emotionally, physically – individually and through people-serving organizations.  For example:

  • playgrounds for children
  • scholarships
  • supporting Kids on Track (a community-building organization that provides hope, direction, and ongoing support for children, youth, and their parents)
  • summer programs for children during COVID-19
  • lunch programs for less advantaged children
  • helping or performing music at senior centres
  • making a turkey dinner at Christmastime for 6 teenage girls who had just come off the streets
  • making Christmas dinner for 20 women who were in a safe house with their children in December
  • and that’s just a small sampling based on some very limited research

Beyond these local service contexts, we contribute to Canada Food Grains Bank and Presbyterian World Service – doing our part to feed the hungry of the world and helping to create conditions that enable people to feed themselves.

So maybe “feeding five thousand” is actually an understatement. As a direct result of Jesus’ ministry hundreds of millions have been fed during the last two millennia because followers of Jesus, fed by Jesus through our participation in communities of faith and care gathered around Him, have reached out in care for others.

 

“And those who ate were about five thousand families.” Given what has happened since, I think we could add a few zeros.

Music:  Freely, freely

God forgave my sin in Jesus’ name,
I’ve been born again in Jesus’ name,
and in Jesus’ name I come to you
to share his love as he told me to.

He said:
‘Freely, freely you have received;
freely, freely give.
Go in my name and because you believe,
others will know that I live.’

All power is given in Jesus’ name,
in earth and heaven in Jesus’ name,
and in Jesus’ name I come to you
to share his power as he told me to.

songwriter: Carol Owens, 1972 © Lexicon Music Inc.
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

The Lord’s Supper

Invitation

When our risen Lord was at table with his disciples, he took bread, blessed, broke it and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.

Luke 24:30, 31

We invite you, each in your own homes, to recognize and experience the presence of Jesus.

This celebration of the Lord’s Supper is not a Dayspring celebration.

Neither is it a Presbyterian celebration.

It is a celebration for all humankind – for men and women, girls and boys, who are seeking, or have found, a relationship with Jesus Christ.

We believe that we are not in charge of the Lord’s Supper – rather that Jesus is – and Jesus says that all are welcome.

And now we pray …

As we partake of this bread and wine, we honor Creator and creation.

As we bless and share these gifts, we celebrate the Table fellowship of Jesus and know that all are made worthy by Jesus – adults, teenagers, children – and that all are welcome!

We celebrate the communion and community of all humankind.

In Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life and the True Vine, You feed us with the Word. You nourish us with Your Love poured out in abundance upon us.

O present Spirit, help us recognize the risen Christ in the breaking of the bread.

You feed us and all the world with this bread.

You bring joy with this wine and grape juice.

Bread and Wine are leaven, salt, and life in us – a community of faith strengthened by this symbolic meal.

We pray in the name of Jesus who came among us – a deep mystery of faith. AMEN.

Music:  Come now you blessed

“Come now, you blessed, eat at my table, “
said Jesus Christ to the righteous above.
“When I was hungry, thirsty, and homeless, 
sick and in prison, you showed me your love.”

When did we see you hungry or thirsty?
When were you homeless, a stranger alone?
When did we see you sick or in prison?
What have we done that you call us your own?

“When you gave bread to the earth’s hungry children, 
when you gave welcome to war’s refugees.
When you remembered those most forgotten, 
you cared for me in the smallest of these.”

Christ, when we meet you out on life’s roadways, 
looking to us in the faces of need, 
then may we know you, welcome and show you
love that is faithful in word and in deed.

words: Ruth Duck, 1992 © GIA Publications Inc.; music: Emily Brink; 1994 © CRC Publications
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Offering of Bread and Wine

Because there is one bread,
we who are many are one body,
for we all partake of the one bread. I Cor. 10:17.
When we break the bread,
it is a sharing in the body of Christ. I Cor. 10:16.
When we bless the cup,
it is a sharing in the blood of Christ. I Cor. 10:16.
The wine, like Christ’s blood, is poured out as a declaration that we can have life and have life more abundantly.

Communion

Offering of the Bread: “The Bread of life is for all who come in faith.”
Offering of the Wine: “Christ’s love is poured out for all of us.”

Prayer after Communion

Eternal God, we give you thanks for this holy mystery in which you have given yourself to us symbolically and we have experienced your Real Presence.

We thank You for all those who have shared in this mystery, and thus in You throughout two millennia.

And we offer ourselves, and all that we have in the service and in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

Reflection on givingWelcoming Elder

We give to support the ministry and mission of our congregation. During this time of COVID-19 restrictions, our members have been generous. Thank you for that generosity. However, because we have lost the contributions to our budget from the organizations that use our building, we are running a shortfall. So we all need to dig deep. We do our giving in the various ways described on the screen and in the Dayspring Weekly News.

Intercessions

Friends in Christ, God invites us to hold the needs of our sisters and brothers as dear to us as our own needs.

Loving our neighbors as ourselves, we offer our prayers for those of our congregation, or those who are the family members or friends of our members, whose names are listed in our weekly mailing …

We think, especially, of those in our congregation who are dealing with the frailty of our bodies as we grow older. …

And about those who grieve the death of loved ones …

We offer our prayers, also, for those in our wider community, province, nation, and world who are struggling, many of them not knowing how they will survive …

Words are able to accomplish much, but actions speak louder than words. So, along with our prayers, we commit ourselves to acts of care, justice-seeking, and peace-making.

Commissioning and Blessing

Go in peace. Love and serve the Lord.
And know that God Is with you each step of the way. Amen


Copyright 2020 by The Rev. John C. Carr, ThM, PhD, DD (HC)

Posted in Recent Sermons.