Introduction & Welcome
Welcome to worship today, God’s gift to us because God is good! all the time!
and all the time! God is good!
Today is the first of five Sundays with gospel readings from John 6, the first four of which focus on Jesus as bread of life. Today Jesus feeds thousands of people with five loaves and two fish. What we have, what we bring to Jesus’ table, seems like it is not nearly enough to meet all the needs we see around us. But it is not the adequacy of our supplies or our skills that finally makes the difference: it is the power of Jesus working in the littlest and least to transform this world into the world God desires, a world where all the hungry are satisfied.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity,☩ one God,
the God of manna,
the God of miracles,
the God of mercy.
Drawn to Christ and seeking God’s abundance,
let us confess our sin.
Silence is kept for reflection.
God, our provider,
It is hard to believe there is enough to share.
We question your ways when they differ from the ways
of the world in which we live.
We turn to our own understanding
rather than trusting in you.
We take offense at your teachings and your ways.
Turn us again to you.
Where else can we turn?
Share with us the words of eternal life
and feed us for life in the world.
Beloved people of God:
in Jesus, the manna from heaven,
you are fed and nourished.
By Jesus, the worker of miracles,
there is always more than enough.
Through Jesus, ☩ the bread of life,
you are shown God’s mercy:
you are forgiven and loved into abundant life.
Prayer of the Day
Gracious God, you have placed within the hearts of all your children a longing for your word and a hunger for your truth. Grant that we may know your Son to be the true bread of heaven and share this bread with all the world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: 2 Kings 4:42-44
Today’s reading is part of a larger section of 2 Kings that describes the miracles of Elisha, the successor to Elijah. Here the prophet gives food to a hungry crowd. Though there is not enough food to go around, Elisha trusts God, who provides enough and even more to satisfy the need.
42A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to [Elisha,] the man of God: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said, “Give it to the people and let them eat.” 43But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” So he repeated, “Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’ ” 44He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.
Psalm: Psalm 145:10-18
You open wide your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. (Ps. 145:16)
10All your works shall praise you, O Lord,
and your faithful ones shall bless you.
11They shall tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your power,
12that all people may know of your power
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your dominion endures throughout all ages.
You, Lord, are faithful in all your words, and loving in all your works.
14The Lord upholds all those who fall
and lifts up those who are bowed down.
15The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord,
and you give them their food in due season.
16You open wide your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17You are righteous in all your ways
and loving in all your works.
18You are near to all who call upon you,
to all who call upon you faithfully.
Second Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21
We have been rooted and grounded in the love of Christ, which surpasses all human knowledge. Because Christ dwells in our hearts, our lives are continuously strengthened and empowered by the ongoing presence of the Spirit.
14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Alleluia. A great prophet has risen among us!* God has looked favorably on us! Alleluia. (Luke 7:16)
Gospel: John 6:1-21
In John’s gospel, the miracles of Jesus are called “signs,” because they reveal the true character of God. As such, they remain within the mystery of God and cannot be brought under human control.
1Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5When 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?” 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” 10Jesus 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. 11Then 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. 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14When 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.”
15When 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.
16When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.
Meditation by David O’Brien
The Lord will provide. Today we read two stories about how God can provide for the people with just a little bit. In both the first reading and in the Gospel, God turns our shortage into surplus. I’ve always liked the story of the loaves and the fishes. In fact, I often say a prayer at the offering that goes something like “Lord, like you fed the masses with five loaves of bread and two fishes, take this pittance that I offer to You and multiply it to do Your work in this world”.
These readings aren’t the only examples of God providing for His people. For example, think about the time that the newly freed people of Israel left Egypt and wandered in the desert. God provided manna for them to eat and water from the stones for them to drink. The Israelites weren’t satisfied with this however and grumbled about the food they used to eat when they lived in Egypt. None the less, they were provided with bread from heaven, enough to meet their daily needs until they reached their destination. God knows our needs better than we do ourselves. We should be grateful for whatever He provides because it is in our own best interest. I think we would do well to consider Matthew 6:25 in which Jesus says 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Recently, Pastor Howard spoke regarding the part of the Lord’s Prayer where we ask, “Give us this day, our daily bread”. I liked the way he reminded us that Martin Luther applied that to mean more than just the food we eat. God provides for all of our needs. Our income, our jobs, our families and of course, more of God himself. That’s something we all need. I remember this one inmate at the prison I used to work at. He had some mental challenges and wasn’t exactly the best able to fend for himself against all of the folks he lived with. But one thing he did was he went to the chapel all the time. His faith was right there with him wherever he went. I think the other inmates could see this and while it would have been easy for them to take advantage of him, a large group of inmates started to watch out for him. None of the other guys messed with him because they knew that he had friends there who would have his back. When they had a charity run in the rec yard to raise money for the Susan G. Komen foundation, and he had trouble making it around the track, other more physically fit inmates would stop and walk with him, encouraging him to keep going. There were even inmates at various points along the track holding up signs to cheer him on. If God could provide this guy, a criminal, with the ability to protect himself, how much more could He do for you? Furthermore, if God can use the other inmates for His purpose, whether or not they were aware of it, how much more could He do with your hands?
God also provided for the disciples’ safety in the Gospel. As they were in rough waters, rowing to the other side, Jesus came to them, walking on the water, and got them to the safety of the other side. In Matthew’s telling of the story, Jesus called Peter out to him on the water. When Peter became afraid due to the heavy seas all around him, he called for Jesus to save him. And that’s exactly what Christ did.
Of course, God has provided for our greatest need in Jesus Christ. When we are gathered at the Church, and we recite the confession, we admit that “we are held captive to sin and cannot free ourselves”. We need Christ’s redeeming grace. Without that grace, we would all be lost, stuck in the mire of our own sin. I thank God the Father every day for the life that has been given to me. I thank God the Son, for the redeeming grace that He so freely gives to me. I thank God the Holy Spirit for helping me to do God’s work in this life and for guiding me to the Triune God.
Prayers of Intercession
Rooted in Christ and sustained by the Spirit, we offer our prayers for the church, the world, and all of creation.
A brief silence.
We pray for the church. Bless the ministries of our neighboring congregations and wherever Your children gather in Your name. Bless Elizabeth & Daniel, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor. Empower churches throughout the world and encourage missionaries who accompany global neighbors. Kindle in us a spirit of collaboration, that all people, wherever they may be, may know your loving works. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
We pray for creation. Send rain to lands experiencing drought and come to the aid of those enduring sweltering heat. Send relief to those areas experiencing flooding. Nurture wheat and barley crops grown for the nourishment of your people and conserve aquatic habitats and fish populations. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
We pray for those who govern. Cast out arrogance, selfishness, and corruption and instruct those who lead to practice compassion and humility. Inspire them with a vision of the common good for all peoples and a commitment to ensure that all who hunger are fed. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
We pray for those bowed down by heavy burdens: those who are unemployed or underemployed, those who are incarcerated or whose loved ones are incarcerated, those unable to find affordable housing, those who are physically unable to provide for themselves or their families, and those without health insurance. Console those who grieve and hear the cries of those who call to you for healing, especially those on our prayer list. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
We pray for this assembly. Deepen our resolve to use what we have to serve those in need. When we worry that we do not have enough resources for ministry, assure us of your abundance. Send us a called pastor who will help us to realize that You have equipped of to do Your work with our hands. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
We give thanks for those who have died. As you sustained them through all their days, so dwell in our hearts, that we may have the power to comprehend, with the apostle James, and all the saints, the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
We lift these and all our prayers to you, O God, confident in the promise of your saving love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.*
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
And now, as our Savior, Christ is teaching us, we boldly pray:
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 us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.
The blessing of God,
who provides for us, feeds us, and journeys with us,
☩ be upon you now and forever.
Go in peace. You are the body of Christ.
Thanks be to God.