August 1, 2021 Service

ORDER OF SERVICE FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 1, 2021

TENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

 

Due to copyright limitations, we are unable to print the words to the songs.  However, our musicians have chosen music to fit the scriptures.  We invite you to look up the words in your worship book and ponder them.  If you do not have a worship book, ponder the words to one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have internet may find the songs on YouTube.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

 

We’ve been so concerned about being cool, relevant, and fun that we have forgotten to be bread, light, and life to a hungry, dark, and dying world.

~Eric Ludy

BEFORE WE WORSHIP, WE REFLECT…

 

     Today’s texts move us from rumbling tummies and flaring tempers to a refocusing on the blessings poured out and the primary benefactor. We see the gifts of God, which come in a variety of ways: physical nourishment, roles and talents lifted up in community, new life given now and into the ages of ages. We find that the gifts are responses to various actions—complaining, building for the future, longing for signs of promise and hope. Yet each of these actions and the gifts mean little if we are not able to see the one who is the giver and to recognize that the gifts are not merely about what we can do to get them or what signs are needed to prove them; rather, it is about trust in God, who is the source of life and living—the one who provides the true bread from heaven. Our role in this story is to tell the history of God’s giving, similar to the psalmist. It is to open our eyes to the way the bread of heaven is sustaining us today, physically and spiritually. And as a community living in God’s promise, we look to the one God sends to us as the bread of life. In many early Hebrew and Greek writings, the stomach was a driving force and a place where hope and faith were lodged. The readings point us to see how a longing for food opens a greater dwelling place for the gifts of faith and promise. From our physical depths we are called to experience a greater spiritual reality.

 

CALL TO WORSHIP

 

We gather in the name of the living Christ to worship God.

Surely, God is in this place and calls us to worship in spirit and in truth.

God’s love is for you and for all people everywhere.

That we may share God’s love and life, may we be renewed in the refreshing Spirit of the living Christ.

The living Christ is with us.

Praise the Lord!

 

CHILDREN’S SONG  Alive!

CENTERING PRAYER

 

O God, eternal goodness, immeasurable love, you place your gifts before us; we eat and are satisfied. Fill us and this world in all its need with the life that comes only from you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

A NEW CREED

 

We are not alone; we live in God’s world.

We believe in God:  who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.

We trust in God.

We are called to be the Church:  to celebrate God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.

CHILDREN’S CHAT

 

     You don’t complain, do you?  For example, you don’t complain about having to go to school, being in bed by a certain time, having to do chores, being nice to your siblings…?  I thought so. 

     When I was seven, during the refreshment time after worship, someone asked me what we were going to have for lunch that day.  My response:  “Hamburger.  Again!  We’re always having hamburger!”

     My mother was standing nearby and overheard my comment.  She was not happy.  On the way home from worship, she pointed out to me all the different meats and casseroles we had eaten during the past two weeks.  It didn’t mean anything to me because we still had hamburger for lunch!

     I honestly don’t know why I was complaining.  My mom was a good cook, and I liked hamburger!  At least my family and I had food to eat.  The Israelites were wandering in the desert and their food had pretty much run out.  They were hot, tired, thirsty, and were afraid of starving to death!  So, they complained.  Loudly!  And, God answered. 

     At night, quail, a bird a little smaller than a chicken, would land and the people would kill them and cook them to eat.  In the morning, there was a thin crust on the ground that turned out to be manna, a type of bread.  Bread and meat were God’s answer to the complaints – the prayers – of the Israelites. 

     While the quail and the manna were probably not the answer to their prayer they were hoping for (they had been thinking about all the different kinds of foods they ate while slaves in Egypt) it was still food, it kept them alive, and most importantly, God made sure the quail and the manna were there every day. 

     Complaining can be a form of prayer.  We may not see it that way, yet God does.  The answer to our prayers, like the quail and manna for the Israelites, may not be what we were expecting; there is still love and blessing in them.

     Perhaps, rather than complaining, we need to change our way of looking at our lives.  Perhaps, rather than complaining about what we don’t have, we give thanks for what we do have.  Either way, God is listening and responding.  Thank you God!

 

 

MISSION AND SERVICE

SOCIAL DISTANCING A LUXURY UNAVAILABLE TO MANY IN ZIMBABWE

 

COVID-19 is striking Zimbabwe when it’s down. Roughly a year after being ravaged by Cyclone Idai and two years into a drought, Zimbabweans haven’t had time to recover between tragedies.

“COVID-19 comes when a number of situations are not very good for Zimbabwe. The economy is completely dysfunctional. This month, the inflation rate is about 600 percent. Health institutions are not working, and the doctors have been on strike for six months now. This crisis is a disaster for Zimbabwe,” says Kenneth Mtata, General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches(opens in a new tab).

Food shortages in Zimbabwe make enforcing lockdown rules difficult. Riot police have been called in to control crowds in food markets. Kenneth Mtata explains that people want to comply with lockdown. “But 85 percent of the population is in informal employment. They can’t afford to miss work a single day. People are saying it would be better to die of coronavirus than hunger. This puts them in conflict with the state.”

In 1980, Zimbabwe was liberated from British rule and then endured the ruthless dictatorship of Robert Mugabe, who was president of the country from 1987 to 2017.

Having suffered decades of trauma and tragedy, and now facing a deadly virus, hope can be hard to come by. “We celebrate 40 years of independence in Zimbabwe . We don’t know if it’s a day of celebration or of mourning for the lost years,” says Mtata.

A Mission & Service partner, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches has always advocated for social cohesion, good governance, active citizenship, economic justice, and youth empowerment. Now, the needs are more urgent than ever.

“We are pushing the government to reengage doctors and nurses and to provide them with personal protective equipment,” says Mtata. “We have also been focusing on communication, encouraging people to take preventative measures. We are working to meet the needs of families who can’t afford to be in this lockdown situation.”

Your gifts through Mission & Service help transform and save lives in Canada and around the world. Thank you! 

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

 

Gracious God, we do not live by bread alone. Let the heavenly food of the scripture we are about to hear nourish us today in the ways of eternal life, through Jesus Christ, the bread of heaven. Amen

 

Readings and Psalm

 

First Reading: Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15

 

A food crisis becomes a faith crisis for the Israelites in the wilderness. The hungry people forget God’s saving work in the exodus, and they wish for the food they had in Egypt. Nevertheless, God miraculously meets their needs, with manna for bread and quail for meat.

2The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 

3The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

4Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not.”

9Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’ ” 

10And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 

11The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 

12“I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’ ”

13In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 

14When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 

15When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.”

 

Psalm 78:23-29

 

God rained down manna from heaven; so mortals ate the bread of angels. (Ps. 78:24, 25)

23So God commanded the clouds above and opened the doors of heaven,

24raining down manna upon them to eat and giving them grain from heaven. R

25So mortals ate the bread of angels; God provided for them food enough. 

26The Lord caused the east wind to blow in the heavens and powerfully led out the south wind,
27raining down flesh upon them like dust and flying birds like the sand of the seas,

28letting them fall in the midst of the camp and round about the dwellings. 

29So the people ate and were well filled, for God gave them what they craved. R

 

Second Reading: Ephesians 4:1-16

 

Christians share fundamental unity and diversity. Our unity consists in the one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God. Our diversity is expressed in various forms of ministry whose goal is equipping the saints and building up Christ’s one body.

1I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 

2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 

3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 

4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 

5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 

6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. 

7But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 

8Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.” 

9(When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 

10He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 

11The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 

12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 

13until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 

14We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 

15But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 

16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

  • Gospel: John 6:24-35
  •  

Many of the five thousand people Jesus fed in the wilderness continued to follow him throughout the countryside. Jesus challenges them to consider the real nature of their quest.

24When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were  they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 

25When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 

26Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 

27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 

28Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 

29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 

30So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 

31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” 

32Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 

33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 

34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

 

SERMON

 

Pentecost 10

Matthew 16, 13-20

Bishop Jason Zinko
Manitoba/Northwestern Ontario Synod

Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you in the name of Christ our Saviour. Amen.

 

Thank you for inviting me into your congregations and into your homes today to reflect on today’s gospel reading. I do this from Treaty 1 land, the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, and Dakota Peoples and the homeland of the Metis Nation.

 

I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted.

I am exhausted from the heat; from a long stretch since I had time off; from the ongoing restrictions due to COVID (even though those are finally lifting). I am exhausted from the horrendous news almost weekly about Indigenous children’s unmarked graves; ongoing racism; leaders who just don’t seem to get it; watching our forests burn; and civil unrest across the globe. I am exhausted from waiting and wondering when I will feel full again.

 

Can you relate? Do you hunger for these things that often seem just out of reach?

 

I don’t think that we are alone. I think that many people – Christian or not – struggle with the challenge that some are full while some are hungry. And while we are challenged by that, we also operate as though there is nothing that can be done about it. We work, almost by default, with the belief that there is only so much to go around, so we better get what we can before it runs out.

 

So, we are left with a particular challenge today when we hear Jesus say, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” It’s a challenge because we know of faithful people who hunger and thirst. We see faithful people being kicked down because who they are doesn’t fit with a standard that our dominant culture defines. On the flip side, we know decidedly unfaithful people who seem to have all they could ever want and more.

 

So, what does it mean? What does it mean for us to say that Jesus is the bread from heaven that gives life to the world?

 

For starters, we need to expand our view of what is possible with God. We need to understand that God is at work in ways that we often miss. That certainly happened to the crowd in the gospel reading for today. Jesus took two fish and five loaves of bread, fed 5,000 people with leftovers, walked across the lake, and then the crowd asked when he was going to show them a sign?

 

When was he going to show them a sign?!? What did they think he was doing?

 

The writer of John referred to anything miraculous that Jesus did as a sign. So rather than extraordinary miracles, Jesus gave signs that were meant to point to something important about God and show us a way that God is present and active for God’s people.

 

Jesus’ work of feeding the people wasn’t just about filling stomachs or providing dinner on a shoestring budget. Through that sign, Jesus was trying to show the people then, and us today, that he is the one who provides life and nourishment for his followers. Yes, he provides eternal life in the sense that Jesus will raise up people on the last day. But it’s more than just that. Jesus gives life now. Jesus shows us and helps us to live abundant lives now. Jesus works to take away real hunger and thirst now.

 

But we also need to realize that Jesus is not just a dispenser of things we need. Jesus calls us to take an active part in this work through our baptism.

 

In the promises of identity, faithfulness, community, and the gift of Spirit, Jesus also sends us out into the world to work in all ways for justice and peace. God claims us in those waters so that we can be part of this global and timeless family following Jesus’ example and command.

 

This means that we are called to stand up against racism – including our own. We are called to help lift up the voices of those who are often silenced or ignored. The way of Jesus is to help those who cannot help themselves and to welcome those who are often unwelcome. As we follow Jesus’ call and work together as the Body of Christ, we have the opportunity to witness the life that Jesus is bringing into the world.

 

Of course, these actions do not mean that we are the bread of the world, or that we are the ones who satisfy the needs of everyone. They are simply signs of us living out the gift of faith that we were given in baptism and that Jesus continues to grow in us. And they are only part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

 

Focusing only on what we do is the wrong approach. We do have a role to play in God’s work in the world, and there are many things for us to do, but that isn’t the primary thing that Jesus tells us to work toward. In John’s gospel lesson, Jesus says that the work of God we are instructed to do is to believe in the one that God sent. In other words – our primary job is to be attentive to our faith lives.

 

Faith itself is a gift, but we have a responsibility to nurture that faith, to grow in our spiritual practice and to let our faith impact everything about us. A strong faith helps to open our eyes to see all that God is doing around us. A well-practiced faith allows us to follow Christ who brought us to faith in the first place. Faith helps us to realize the many ways in which Jesus feeds us, restores us, and gives us new life.

 

That is why building up faith is such a central focus for the ELCIC. Bishop Susan has asked us to focus on living our faith through Praying, Reading, Worshipping, and Loving. The more that these practices become a part of our daily lives, the more that we connect with how Jesus walks beside us, and the more we are able to rely on God’s promises for us.

 

So, if you haven’t yet looked into those opportunities to grow in your discipleship, I strongly encourage you to. They can be the start of growing a deeper relationship with Christ, and help us to rely on Christ to be the bread of life for us.

 

I know that I started off by saying I’m exhausted. And I am. But it is only through Jesus’ abundant gifts that we can be fed enough to carry on. It is Jesus’ nourishment that sees us through the times when we feel empty. It is Christ alone who will continue to sustain us in all that lies ahead.

 

I pray that you experience the nourishment and life that you receive from Jesus today and each day. And I pray that the peace of God, which passing all of our human understanding, will keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus into eternal life. Amen.

 

 

Bottom of Form

Bottom of Form

HYMN OF THE DAY  MV 154  Deep In Our Hearts

 

 

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION

 

Rooted in Christ and sustained by the Spirit, we offer our prayers for the church, the world, and all of creation.

You call your church to be the body of Christ. Awaken all the baptized to the gifts you provide for carrying out the work of ministry. Where the church is divided, knit us together and restore the unity of the faith.

Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You command the clouds above and cause the wind to blow in the heavens. Watch over deserts and wilderness places. Regenerate rainforests, defend species at risk of extinction, and strengthen the work of conservation organizations.

Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You summon leaders to respond to the needs of your people. Instill those who govern with patience when confronted with grievances and perseverance in seeking what promotes the well-being of the community.

Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You draw near to those who cry out for help. Feed those who are hungry, reassure those who are despairing, and accompany those who are imprisoned. Rain down the true bread from heaven that gives life to the world. We pray for our Indigenous and Muslim sisters and brothers.  God, there is so much hatred and fear creating so much violence.  May we cease our ignorance and take the time to get to know one another, learn from one another, respect one another.  We pray for our family members, friends and community members; Lil Schieman, Mike Froese, Brooke Alexiuk, Dwayne, Tracy Skoglund, Matthew Grossman, Lorraine & Walter Pokrant. You know the cries of their hearts.  We trust you will answer.

Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You receive all who come seeking a sign of grace. Make this parish a place of hospitality for those accustomed to rejection. To those who have felt excluded here or elsewhere, prepare us to welcome them in the name of Christ.

Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

You provide food that endures for eternal life. Sustain us each day with the bread of life until we are gathered with all the saints and feast together at your heavenly banquet.

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.

Amen.

 

THE LORD’S PRAYER

SENDING SONG  MV 194  Bread Of Life, Feed My Soul

 

 

BENEDICTION

May the grace of God, deeper than our imagination; the strength of Christ, stronger than our need; and the communion of the Holy Spirit, richer than our togetherness; guide and sustain us today and in all our tomorrows. Amen.

 

 

 

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