Worship for Sunday, July 25, 2020

2 Kings 4:42-44

A 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.” But 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.’ ” He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the LORD.

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 145:10-18

All your works shall praise you, O LORD,
and your faithful ones shall bless you.
They shall tell of the glory of your kingdom
  and speak of your power,
that all people may know of your power
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your 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.
The Lord upholds all those who fall
and lifts up those who are bowed down.
The eyes of all wait upon you, O LORD,
  and you give them their food in due season.
You open wide your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
You are righteous in all your ways
  and loving in all your works.
You are near to all who call upon you,
to all who call upon you faithfully.  Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I 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, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The Word the Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Saint John 6:1-21

Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.  A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When 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?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus 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. Then 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. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When 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.”

When 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.

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.

When we lived in Indiana – Jason decided to get a second college degree. This was fine and dandy with me – because I didn’t have to do it! But I did think Jason was just a little nuts trying to study things like Calculus – Physics – and bizarre looking computer languages with a 3 year old superhero zooming around the house.

Because Jason needed to study – Jack and I made ourselves scarce most Saturdays.  Often we would spend the day with my Grandpa Wentz. Grandpa lived in a nursing home that was incredibly family friendly. The aides would give both Jack and Grandpa lots of ice cream. Jack and Grandpa would go for long rides in his wheelchair. We petted Lucky the gentle therapy dog. And everyone smiled from ear to ear when Superman zoomed down the hall sporting his fluttery red cape.

These visits were a double blessing. Jason got some peace and quiet and Jack got to hang out with his great-grandpa.

But one spring evening – as we drove home – the sky suddenly turned pitch black. One moment everything was peaceful and calm and the next the car was being lashed by strong gusts of wind as a driving rain made it almost impossible to see the road in front of us.

The music on the radio cut out – followed by that annoying warning tone the National Weather Forecasting folks use when they want to tell you that “you are about to die.” I mean when they want to get your attention.

And – of course – we were out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Indiana. Up where glaciers have scraped the land as flat as flat can be with nothing but corn and soybean fields as far as the eye could see.

We made it home safely that evening. But I hope I never have to drive through a storm like that ever again.

I am pretty sure – singing – the Veggie Tales Song – “God is bigger than the boogie man” really – really loudly helped A LOT that evening.

Even when we are really careful – unexpected things happen. Unexpected surprises come our way. Fierce storms pop up out of nowhere.

Which is just what happened to the disciples in our Gospel reading for today as they sailed across the Sea of Galilee.

Just a few hours earlier they had been safe on the shore with Jesus. Listening to Jesus teach a huge crowd of people about God’s grace – love – and mercy. Helping him feed 1,000s of hungry folks. But then – almost before they knew what was happening – they find themselves in the middle of the Sea of Galilee – in the middle of a terrifying storm.

Their world was turned upside down and inside out. One moment the disciples felt safe and secure and the next they were being whipped around in a raging storm.

Does that sound familiar to any of you? Has life ever hit you with a storm out of the clear blue sky? Can you relate? Have you felt that sort of fear? Have you ever felt tossed around by life?

Maybe it was a phone call that came in the middle of the night.

Perhaps it was the day you lost your job.

Or when your spouse asked for a divorce.

Or when a doctor gave you devastating news.

Or when a policeman knocked on your door.

Or when your child or grandchild shocked you with news that broke your heart.

Or as you stood over the grave of a loved one.

Or when a treasured dream died.

Or when a global pandemic made a great – big – massively huge mess of your world.

We can all understand some of what the disciples are feeling as they were being tossed around by that storm. Life has a way of bringing storms our way. And the worst storms often seem to come out of the clear blue sky.

I wish I could be like one of those smooth talking TV preachers with the perfect hair who promise if you love Jesus enough – bad things won’t happen to you and your loved ones. But we all know that just isn’t true.

Following Jesus doesn’t mean life will be smooth sailing. Jesus doesn’t promise us that. But Jesus does make us other promises. Life-giving – life-sustaining promises. Our Lord gives us incredibly awesome hope.

Let’s return to the disciples’ boat. Yes – there is a raging storm. Yes – the waves are tossing their boat around. Yes – the disciples are afraid.

But something else is happening too. The disciples are not alone. Jesus walked through the raging storm to be with them. Jesus doesn’t leave his disciples alone to fend for themselves. Jesus was with his disciples when they needed him the most.

And the same is true for you. Even when you are being tossed around by the storms of this life you are not alone. Jesus is with you. Jesus promises you that you are never alone – not even for one single moment.

The Bible declares there is no place you will ever go that God is not with you. And that nothing in this life – not even death itself can separate you from God and his love for you. Because God has promised to be with you forever. Your Lord is with you always.

The storms of this life will come. Those storms may crash into your world making a great big mess of things – but even then you are not alone. You will never be forsaken by God. God is with you every step of the way – even on the stormy seas of life. Truly this is Good News. AMEN.

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