August 2, 2020 Service



Due to copywrite 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.



The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in time of crisis.

~Thurgood Marshall



Hiroshima Day (August 6) reminds us annually of the horror humans are capable of doing to one another as we find more and more ways to divide ourselves. But as today’s readings tell us, hatred and cruelty do not have the last word. Love and compassion are stronger and will overcome hatred. We can trust in God’s way of love and God’s generosity and presence with us through all of life’s experiences.

The miracle is a profound but simple, dramatic parable about God’s reign. There is enough for all – enough nourishment, enough hope, enough love. Love multiplies when it is shared. Like the disciples, we too often doubt the value of what we have to offer. We forget to trust in the power of God’s transforming love at work through what little we are able to give. Miracles happen if we are open to them, and are able to trust in God’s way

Call to Worship

Our God feeds us and loves us.

Our God cares for each and every one of us.

Our God hears every one of our prayers.

Come, let us worship God.

CHILDREN’S SONG:   Voices United #468  Let Us Talents And Tongues Employ 


Glorious God, your generosity waters the world with goodness, and you cover creation with abundance. Awaken in us a hunger for the food that satisfies both body and spirit, and with this food fill all the starving world; through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.


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.


How many times have your parents said to you, “Share with your brother!”  “Share with your sister!” and you didn’t want to share!  Did you start to feel angry?  I know I used to!!  Sometimes you just want to be by yourself and not have to share!  I get it!

Jesus was feeling sad because his cousin, John, had been killed.  He wanted some time alone to grieve – and he didn’t get it.  There were so many people who wanted to see him, wanted Jesus to heal their loved ones, wanted him to let them know that God loved them.

Jesus prayed to God to give him the energy and strength to heal all of the people.  Jesus shared his time, energy and love with over 5,000 people!  He also shared five loaves of bread and two fish.  When God blesses what we have, when we share what we have with others, miracles happen!

Let us pray:  Dear God, Jesus prayed to you for strength and you gave it to him.  Jesus asked you to bless what someone had shared, and when you did, a miracle happened.  Help us to be willing to share our time, our energy, our love with others, so that they may experience your miracles in their lives.  Amen.



Embracing the Spirit grant program helps innovative ideas grow.

Our gifts for Mission & Service fully support the Embracing the Spirit grant program for communities of faith with innovative ideas.

Westmount Park United Church in Montreal, Quebec, has been able to grow its initial grant into a Faith in Nature vision of the church—a belief that nature connects us all. As well as monthly Climate Cafés and a cooperative garden on its front lawn, Westmount Park advocates for the environment in its local community.

Ginkgo biloba trees have become symbols of hope for Hiroshima survivors because the trees grew leaves again after the atomic bombing of 1945. In partnership with Green Legacy Hiroshima, a Japanese organization that shares seeds across the world for a nuclear-free planet, Westmount Park was one of three faith organizations that received gingko seeds that are growing into strong trees. The physical existence and history of those seeds tell a powerful story, and their very presence provides a living link between the people of Hiroshima and Montreal—and Westmount Park United Church.

If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much! If you have not given, please join me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith. Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.



May your presence be known this day, O God. May it reside in the hidden places in our hearts and in the farthest reaches of creation. As we gather to be fed with your spirit, O God, may we trust that you will feed us abundantly. Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Isaiah 55:1-5

God invites Israel to a great feast at which both food and drink are free. God also promises to make an everlasting covenant with all peoples, with promises that previously had been limited to Israel. As David was a witness to the nations, these nations shall now acknowledge the ways in which God has glorified Israel.

1Ho, everyone who thirsts,
  come to the waters;
 and you that have no money,
  come, buy and eat!
 Come, buy wine and milk
  without money and without price.
2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
  and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
 Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
  and delight yourselves in rich food.
3Incline your ear, and come to me;
  listen, so that you may live.
 I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
  my steadfast, sure love for David.
4See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
  a leader and commander for the peoples.
5See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
  and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
 because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
  for he has glorified you.

Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21

R:  You open wide your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. (Ps. 145:16)

8The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,
  slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9Lord, you are good to all,
  and your compassion is over all your works. R
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. R
18You are near to all who call upon you,
  to all who call upon you faithfully.
19You fulfill the desire of those who fear you;
  you hear their cry and save them.
20You watch over all those who love you,
  but all the wicked you shall destroy.
21My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord;
  let all flesh bless God’s holy name forever and ever. R

Second Reading: Romans 9:1-5

This begins a new section in Paul’s letter in which he will deal with the place of Israel in God’s saving plan. He opens by highlighting how Israel’s heritage and legacy include being God’s children, having God’s covenants, being given God’s law, participating in worship of God, and receiving divine promises.

1I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit—2I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. 4They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; 5to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21

After John the Baptist is murdered, Jesus desires a time of solitude. Still, his compassion for others will not allow him to dismiss those who need him, and he is moved to perform one of his greatest miracles.

13Now when Jesus heard , 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. 14When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15When 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.” 16Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19Then 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. 20And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.


Rev. Dennis Serfas

Assistant to the Bishop (Northern region), Saskatchewan Synod

Matthew 14:13-21

Welcome to this summer sermon series that our Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is providing for congregations throughout the vacation months, giving your pastor or lay leaders an opportunity to have a break from preparing the message. I am Pastor Dennis Serfas, one of the part-time Assistants to the Bishop, for the Saskatchewan Synod. I am retired and live in Prince Albert, about 150 kms north of Saskatoon. The last 20 years of my career were spent as the Director of Spiritual Care for the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region. Prior to that I was a parish pastor for about 16 years, nine of which were spent here in this congregation of Messiah Lutheran, from where I am taping this sermon, and where my wife and I are currently members.

Today’s text is Jesus’ feeding the multitudes, the 5,000 plus people, with just a meager two fish and five loaves. He has just been told about the tragic death of his cousin John the Baptist, and like many of us who have experienced tragedy or difficult news, we often try to retreat to a place of solitude to get our head around what has just happened. When I worked with the Health Region, and still today, when I do funerals and work part time with a local funeral home, I know that grief requires compassion and support from others, but it also needs some “alone” time to process everything that sometimes hits us like a plow wind here on the prairies. That “alone” time is what Jesus really craved as he got into the boat heading for a quiet deserted place. I know the feeling. I live in lake country, surrounded by a National Park and several lakes within a 50-minute drive. When I was in the parish, I was tempted to buy a cabin at one of the resorts, to have a place to retreat on rare days off or vacation time. Well, many of my parishioners and residents in the community also had the same idea and had cabins or RVs in those same resorts or parks. Needless to say, it wasn’t time away from the parish or the community. Instead, the choice we made is every other year, we go to a resort in British Columbia, about a 12-hour drive from here.

            Jesus obviously had more tolerance and patience with the people’s needs than I might have or his disciples had on that day. Apparently, even without Facebook, email or GPS, the people quickly heard about Jesus’ destination spot and gathered around him. Not surprisingly, we are told that he “had compassion” for them and dealt with their issues. I’m sure the disciples had some choice words to say about all this. Undoubtedly, they too were looking for some time to kick back and have some R&R on their own. I remember the years I worked in health care, when I was on-call in the evenings or weekends. After a stressful long week or day at work, just as I was ready to enjoy a nice meal with my wife and daughter, or some time working in the backyard, the phone would invariably ring, requesting my return to the hospital or care home for some emergency. Sometimes, when I got there, the situation wasn’t as urgent as suggested, and it could have easily waited until next morning. I’m sure the disciples felt the same way. Couldn’t all the people’s needs have waited until they got back into town? And if that wasn’t enough to deal with all day long, then there was the “food thing.” As Lutherans, we know the importance of food at any gathering. Many of our congregations have coffee time before or after services, or monthly pot-luck lunches. Times of celebration and sorrow when people gather together, is usually associated with an abundance of food. What is a wedding without a banquet? And what is a funeral without a lunch? Those things have all been challenged now during the COVID 19, and may never be quite the same again.

Just before I prepared this sermon, I had a graveside service and a small family funeral, both with Ukrainian/Polish heritages. Not able to feed people at those events was almost as hard to deal with for the family members as the deaths themselves. Apparently, it seems to have been a similar expectation in Jesus’ day as well. The difficulty though, was that the caterer hadn’t been booked in advance. The meat and vegetable trays from Safeway or the Co-op weren’t delivered. The hospitality committee at the church hadn’t made any egg salad sandwiches and dainties. The disciples had the logical solution. Let them fend for themselves! Or better yet, send them back to where they came from; to the towns that no doubt had their own drive thru or curb side pickups. On top of everything else that they had already put up with, on what was supposed to be a day off, was Jesus now expecting them to put on their chef hats and provide Skip-the-Dishes delivery service to the hungry crowds? And with what was this miracle supposed to happen? Two little fish and five loaves of bread? Are you kidding us Jesus? Have you suffered from heat stroke out there on that boat all day? These expectations seemed way beyond the disciples’ skill set or pay scale! 

I wonder how many times we have felt the same or have been squeezed so hard that we were ready to break? We can’t do it all alone Jesus? I am the only pastor in this congregation? There are only a handful of us lay people who run the show here, trying to keep everything going and keep the doors open. We didn’t meet the budget last year, how on earth will we meet it this year with all the extra challenges and less income? There’s got to be another way or somebody else to do what needs to be done. I’m elderly! I’m a single parent! I’m going through a messy separation right now! Haven’t we done enough all these years? Isn’t it somebody else’s responsibility to worry about feeding the hungry, or the effects of climate change on our food chain, or the carbon print on our environment?

 To all of that, and to all of them, and to all of us, Jesus replies, “they don’t have to go away, you take care of them; you give them something to eat.” And to everyone’s surprise, with Jesus’ blessing and intervention, all their needs were taken care of; everyone was fed and filled with all they needed, and there was lots to spare. So, from this we can see that Jesus’ compassion also leads to action.  What does this text say about us and where we are at in our lives today? I think it is accurate to say, that for most of us in this country, and for most of us in the church, regardless of how little we have, or how inadequate we think we might be, we probably have much more and much more to offer and share than most countries and people in our world.

Many of us come with this mindset of abundance, and anything less, makes us feel deficient or inadequate in comparison. If our congregation is small or dwindling in size, or even if it is large, we can be overly cautious, for fear of the day when we will need what we have given away, or if our business operation is small in comparison to the large corporations, often we feel paralyzed and limited by what we can do, both for ourselves and even more so, by what we can do for others. If we start anything on the premise that “we never will have enough” then our vision or mission is at a disadvantage from the beginning. As always, as in our gospel text for today, Jesus is a major partner and provider in the projects that seem so insurmountable to us and our perceived lack of resources.

I remember the first summer I was pastor here in Prince Albert. A few months after my arrival the fall before, the congregation made the big decision to build a new building on a new larger location. The projected cost was about $1 million. This was more than 30 years ago. We were a fairly large congregation then, but not flush with a lot of extra cash. Being lake country as I mentioned, the summer attendance as well as the offerings were down considerably. One day the treasurer came into my office, and regretfully announced that she did not have enough funds to pay my full month’s salary. I remember thinking to myself, “What did I get myself into here?” How would we venture forward into an expensive building project with a large debt load when interest rates were about 10%? But guess what? We did build that $1 million dollar building and we did have a mortgage for several years. Even though there were lots of new people, the majority of the costs were still carried by the long-time members. But this is what really surprised me! Not once in the nine years that I pastored this congregation, did I ever have to wait for my complete paycheck again. We never had a line of credit and we managed to pay all the bills on time. There was never a huge surplus, but there was always enough.  This taught me a valuable lesson! It wasn’t just me that had to make this project happen. Some had more resources to share than others, some had more time and other gifts to offer than others. Yet, when it was all brought together and shared, we had not just enough for our own needs, but still participated in community projects, and supported the synod and wider church. In the midst of it all though, there were a lot of prayers being uplifted with the faith and confidence that God, the ultimate provider, was working in and acting through the people of God, then and now. If we had waited to act, to move forward in mission, only if and when we clearly had enough, then I suspect, that opportunity, and many others that followed because of it, would have been missed. 

In contrast, I think of the book just published by President Donald Trump’s niece, revealing some more harrowing stories of her uncle. The title of the book reveals a lot. It is called Too Much and Never Enough. We have seen evidence of that unraveling in the last four years. Yet, we don’t have to look to our southern border. Our human nature of wanting more, in a culture where feeling and looking better is equivalent to somehow “being better”, always makes us feel we have missed the mark in one way or another. Too much and never enough! In the eyes of Jesus, no matter how little we might think we have, it is always enough and more than enough for him, and especially when we are willing to work and share with him what we have!

Some of you might know the name Itzhak Perlman. He is an Israeli-born violinist known throughout the world as a composer and conductor working with leading orchestras. At the age of four Perlman lost the use of his legs due to Polio. So, he has braces on both legs and walks with the aid of two crutches. When he performed, it took him some time to make his way to the center of the stage for a concert. On the evening of November 18, 1995, something went wrong. Just as Perlman finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his violin snapped. What would he do? It would take a long time for him to get up and go off stage to either get a new string or a different violin. But instead of leaving the stage, the great musician sat quietly for a few moments and composed himself. Perlman again nodded to the conductor to begin and the orchestra started, and he played from where he had left off. As he played, he transposed the music so that he could play with only 3 strings the music that had been written to be played on four strings. When he finished, he smiled, and wiping the sweat from his brow, said, “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s job to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.” How much music can we still make with what we have left?

The world, in different ways, has asked this question in the last few months. Through quarantines and distancing measures and restrictions put into place, we have been forced into a “new normal.” Much of it has been a difficult adjustment. For some, the experience has been devastating with the loss of health, life and their well-being.  For others, it has been an inconvenience. However, for most people, I believe this coronavirus has made us pause long enough to reassess our priorities and values. Much good has come as a result of it, and new lifestyles and ways of doing business have emerged and much of it will probably continue. I hope the good parts of it will. The parts that have motivated the world to heed the words of Jesus through various actions, “there is no need for them to go away, you give them something to eat.” And when they did, and when we did, there was more than enough, with much left over.  Amen.


HYMN OF THE MONTH:  More Voices #98  River Of Tears


Confident of your care and helped by the Holy Spirit, we pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.

A brief silence.

You take resources that appear to be meager, bless them, and there is enough. May your church trust that what you bless and ask us to share with the world is abundantly sufficient.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Your bountiful creation offers sustenance and life for all creatures. Protect this abundance for the well-being of all. Reverse the damage we have caused your creation.  Replenish ground water supplies, provide needed rains in places of drought, and protect forests from wildfires.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

You offer yourself to all the nations and peoples of the earth, inviting everyone to abundant life. Bring the prophetic vision to fullness, that all nations will run to you and that nations who do not know you will find their joy in you.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. Hear the anguish of tender hearts who cry to you in suffering and satisfy their deepest needs. We pray for Myrtle & Art Ganske; Mike Froese; Brooke Alexiuk; Abbie; Tracy Skoglund; Carolyn & Douglas; Amber; Nicole; Gordon Dreger; Diane Dreger; Debbie & Dwayne; Elizabeth & David.  Bring wholeness and healing to those who suffer in body, heart, soul, and mind.  

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

You offer freely the fullness of salvation. Give our congregation such a welcoming heart, that our words and actions may extend your free and abundant hospitality to all whom we encounter. Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

You gather your saints as one, united in the body of Jesus. Bring us with all your saints to the heavenly banquet. We remember with love and thanksgiving the saints we have known.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

In the certain hope that nothing can separate us from your love, we offer these prayers to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.





May God walk before you to guide you on your way.

May God walk behind you to protect you from all harm and danger.

May God walk beside you as your constant companion and friend.

May God dwell within you to be your joy and your peace.  Amen.


SENDING SONG:  More Voices #18  Lord, Prepare Me To Be A Sanctuary



Copyright © 2016 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #SAS011617. 
19/20 WPOG License: Congregation 25-49