Let me remind you quickly of our protocols for everyone’s safety.
· Attendance was taken by Ushers as you entered.
· Masks are required by those not vaccinated as well as social distancing
· Offerings may be placed in the plate by the doors.
· Please write your prayer request on the Yellow cards. An usher will pick them up during the 1st hymn.
· Please join us after service for fellowship in Calvin Hall
Gary Iverson, Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston has been moved into a Hospice unit, Maxine Wagner, Annette Conzett, Jo Lefleur and family as they mourn the loss of Thomas Mulholland was a postman since 1963, Judy Welcher, Dr Dyke, Harlan Marx, Lois Seger, Jon Ryner, Abagail Niles, Helanah Niles, Kay Werner, Ukraine, Arlene Pawlik, Angela and Tristan, Bonnie Pillers and family her brother’s dementia has taken a turn for the worse , Deb Weller.
*CALL TO WORSHIP Psalm 113:1-4, CEB
Praise the Lord! You who serve the Lord—praise! Praise the Lord’s name!
Let the Lord’s name be blessed from now until forever from now!
From sunrise to sunset, let the Lord’s name be praised!
The Lord is high over all the nations; God’s glory is higher than the skies!
Lord of Creation, Lord of the Nations, we do indeed praise your sacred name. We give thanks for all the ways you have blessed us. We seek to honor you as we live each day sunrise to sunset, may we truly praise you with our worship and with our very lives. Amen.
*HYMN All Creatures of our God and King #455
(You may be seated.)
CALL TO CONFESSION Deuteronomy 30:16-18, NCV
Hear this plea of God’s people in ages past, “Do not punish us for the sins of our ancestors. Have mercy on us now; we have lost all hope. Help us, O God, and save us; rescue us and forgive our sins for the sake of your own honor.”
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Let us confess the sins of the past and the sins of today that God might bring healing and forgiveness to our land.
Almighty God who knows all things past and present. We acknowledge that our ancestors did not always follow your path or understand your intentions. We acknowledge that crimes were committed by various people against others. We acknowledge the hurts of your people who suffered at the hands of others. We acknowledge that in humanity’s march toward progress, our forebearers did not always stop to count the cost of that progress in terms of damage done to creation or to humankind. We acknowledge that human insecurity and greed for some led to other lives being were trampled.
We confess, O God, that we don’t always know what to do with the sins of those who went before us or how to change the consequences we live with in the present. But Lord, we also confess that humanity’s propensity for sin is still within us. We confess the times we fail to lift one another up, to protect someone else’s worth, to bear one another’s burdens, to be good stewards of creation, to listen without judgement, to forgive as we are forgiven, and yet…And yet we come before you today as your people, seeking forgiveness and guidance to begin yet again and live a better way walking humbly with our God. For the healing our world needs, we seek you our God. Amen.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE 2 Chronicles 7:14, NCV
“Then if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.”
This has been God’s plan all along, and it was accomplished through Jesus’ sacrificial love, if we will but turn back to God and receive it. Through Christ we are forgiven. Thanks be to God!
SONG OF PRAISE Gloria Patri #579
PASSING THE PEACE
(Please greet those around you as we all say these words in unison.)
May the peace of Christ be with you. And also with you.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Lord, today as we hear your Word proclaimed help us to see and understand how we may also assist in the mission you set before us on this earth. Amen.
SCRIPTURE LESSON John 6:1-13, NCV
6 After this, Jesus went across Lake Galilee (or, Lake Tiberias). 2 Many people followed him because they saw the miracles he did to heal the sick. 3 Jesus went up on a hill and sat down there with his followers. 4 It was almost the time for the Jewish Passover Feast.5 When Jesus looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough bread for all these people to eat?”
6 (Jesus asked Philip this question to test him, because Jesus already knew what he planned to do.)
7 Philip answered, “Someone would have to work almost a year to buy enough bread for each person to have only a little piece.”
8 Another one of his followers, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, 9 “Here is a boy with five loaves of barley bread and two little fish, but that is not enough for so many people.”
10 Jesus said, “Tell the people to sit down.” There was plenty of grass there, and about five thousand men sat down there. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves of bread, thanked God for them, and gave them to the people who were sitting there. He did the same with the fish, giving as much as the people wanted.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, Jesus said to his followers, “Gather the leftover pieces of fish and bread so that nothing is wasted.” 13 So they gathered up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with the pieces left from the five barley loaves
SERMON Mission Assists
When I came up with today’s sermon title, I was thinking about team sports when someone scores a goal and another player might be credited with the assist. They weren’t the one to score the goal, but they helped make it possible, probably with a good pass. Well that’s how I want to think about Andrew in today’s story. Andrew did not feed thousands of people. Jesus did. But Andrew was the one team player who helped make it possible with a good pass by bringing to Jesus a little boy who was willing to share his lunch.
Note that it is again Philip and Andrew who are the named disciples in this story as they were in the Invitation story of John 1 when they brought Simon Peter and Nathanael to Jesus. But in today’s story, while they are both skeptical about Jesus’ insistence that they feed the crowd who have come to listen to Jesus’ teachings, Philip thinks it is impossible. Andrew offers one available resource of which he was aware, even though he knows logically it won’t be enough.
We aren’t talking about a handful of people, a synagogue, or even a temple full of people. Jesus is outdoors in an area that had to serve as a natural amphitheater. There were not hundreds in attendance but thousands. As many scholars and preachers will point out, based on the same story told in Matthew, the estimated count is of the men in attendance, but they mostly had women and children with them. It was a young boy who offered to share his lunch. MacArthur estimates this could bring the total up to as much as 20,000. (NKJV MacArthur Study Bible, 2nd Edition) Now we are talking a stadium or arena sized crowd for a sold-out ball game or concert. Have you been in a venue like that? Can you picture that size crowd? How many vendors and concession stands would it take to feed them? Perhaps then you can empathize with Philip’s response. It would take several months wages to give them a snack let alone a whole meal. But this is Jesus in charge. As Max Lucado writes simply, “Jesus demonstrated his power to meet spiritual and physical needs.” (NKJV Lucado Encouraging Word Bible)
This is the only miracle story told in all four gospels, so it’s worth paying attention to it. Notice that they are in the wilderness not in town or village. It parallels God’s provision of manna and quail in the wilderness of the Exodus. The faith statement of both stories is that even when you think it is impossible because you cannot see any resources are available, God has the power to provide. Sometimes it may be through a miracle. Sometimes it will be through sharing. The miracle was not the point, however. What Jesus wanted was for people to trust God through him.
I like two more points made by the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible. First, Jesus paused to give thanks to God for what had been offered. Whether it is meeting our own needs or gathered resources offered to meet other needs, it is important to give our thanks to God who is the true source of it all. Second, there were leftovers! Twelve baskets of scraps were collected, because Jesus didn’t want anything to go to waste. The leftovers demonstrate that there was more than enough to feed all those thousands of people. There was enough! The study bible suggests this “may symbolize that the Lord has enough to supply the needs of the 12 tribes of Israel.” It also reminds us that Jesus can supply all that we need.
So let me return to my analogy that Andrew can be credited with an assist by bringing the boy to Jesus. The boy also deserves credit.
Missions are a team sport. You can have an individual mission such as helping a particular neighbor or raising a rescued animal, but even that becomes a team event if you think about others helping in the neighborhood or others involved in the rescue. Then multiply that by many neighborhoods and many rescue efforts. It takes a team to do missions.
Some of my friends have been involved in mission teams. One in particular who comes to mind a few of you may have met when she has spoken here. Rita Wolf is a retired nurse, retired pastor, retired hospice chaplain, who with her husband now participates in mission projects wherever needed living out of their RV. They have met a lot of people and done repair work on a lot of homes. I enjoy following their work as Rita posts pictures on Facebook. Recently they have been in Kentucky doing cleanup and repairs after the flooding.
Through the Presbyterian Church USA, you are also part of a wide team doing missions around the world. Let me share some things from your mission agency’s website. First, similar to what Rita and Ken do, there is disaster response. Listen: When natural or human-caused disasters impact communities, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is poised to respond and work closely with congregations and local mission partners to bring Christ’s love and healing.
Through the PDA you are also at work in Kentucky working with local churches in the area coordinating volunteers and resources for the work of cleaning up and rebuilding. In addition to this physical assistance, there is a powerful yet intangible component as the physical support also brings encouragement and hope to people who have survived these disasters. It is a big team effort no matter how you look at it. You assist this work when you contribute to One Great Hour of Sharing, because that special offering supports the work of PDA.
You could also assist this type of work putting together flood buckets. I remember doing that here years ago. People donated all of the ingredients from buckets and mops to sponges and cleaners. Then we incorporated a mission moment into a concert we hosted having the attendees put those buckets together. It would be fun to select items to donate with help from the Mission team, then assemble them after worship and dedicate them before sending them to the supply depot. That would be a great assist to the volunteers who then go to help with the actual cleanup and the persons who receive the buckets to clean their own homes and neighborhoods.
These are just a sample of ways you can be like Andrew, giving an assist as Jesus, through his Body, the Church, reaches out to meet needs.
Since there is so much information available on the Presbyterian Mission Agency website, I wanted to take this opportunity to increase my own knowledge and yours about the ways your mission agency is at work. One area I hadn’t thought about is Advocacy and Social Justice. I expect Social Justice to be a concern, and I should have expected advocacy to be part of raising those concerns just as it is in my own denomination. Several agencies within the church approach social justice issues including the Office of Public Witness. Concerns are addressed by educating local congregations as well as witnessing to public officials and in the corporate arena. Concerns noted on the website include environmental justice, hunger, and human trafficking. That’s a pretty diverse range of issues.
One story on the Hunger and Poverty section of the website is about Black Mountain Presbyterian Church in North Carolina where this question is engraved on the front of their communion table, “Have you been fed?” One parishioner sees it as a constant reminder of their mission. This congregation is among 100 churches recognized as a Hunger Action Church, meaning they participate in at least three of the following: “hunger alleviation, development assistance, hunger education, lifestyle integrity, corporate and public policy witness, and worship.” They work with local community programs because, as we said before, missions are a team sport and require team effort. Church members support this work through food collections, volunteering, adopting a family for the holidays, gardening, and even letter writing campaigns. They are actively involved and collaborating with others in many ways to alleviate hunger in their community.
Another article was about a couple from Southminster Presbyterian in Waukesha, WI who bring donations and work with Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. It reminded me of several things. At the time I was attending Dubuque Seminary the Chaplain was a Native American who kept a connection with seminary students from the reservation. The teacher of whom I have the fondest memories along with his wife were our Missionaries in Residence one semester. He was a Presbyterian Pastor who had served 27 years on a reservation to that point. I also remember Heather and Harold going with a group from Second Reformed in Fulton one summer on a mission trip to a reservation. In the article I read, Gloria and Steve Klomsten participate in similar mission trips often.
On a recent trip the group fixed up a community building used for various events so that it can additionally serve as a homeless shelter and for an after-school program. They also set up a food bank. These trips focus on interaction with the people of the community. While striving to bring hope and help to others it is often that case that those who came to help are the ones transformed by the experience.
I like Gloria’s quote regarding teamwork:
“I just can’t emphasize enough that any project we do is a ‘we’ project,” Klomsten said, stressing the importance of teamwork and collaboration. “Even the people that don’t give material things, they pray for us. The prayers and the moral support — to me that’s just as important, if not even more important, than any monetary or material donations that we get.”
It’s a reminder that not only is the team important in missions, but so are those cheering on the sidelines. This gave me a couple more ideas while editing today’s message. What used to be the Presbyterian Prayer Calendar is now online with a daily story, Bible readings, and names of mission workers with a prayer. Perhaps we could start supporting these mission workers by praying for them. I was also thinking in October, which is clergy appreciation month, what if we appreciated some of our missionaries by sending cards with a brief note from our congregation? If either of these ideas sound good to a few of you, I’d be happy to work on them.
Another upcoming opportunity through the Presbyterian Church is the Peace & Global Witness offering usually taken in October for World Communion Sunday. According to the website:
By giving to the Peace & Global Witness Offering your gifts work to restore communities through peacemaking and reconciliation.
You may recall that this offering supports the mission of the church at many levels including your own choice of a local project with 25% of what is received.
In that true team spirit, your mission agency and its staff around the world including missionaries in 80 countries have this concept:
Presbyterians do mission in partnership. We believe that doing mission in partnership broadens our awareness of how interconnectional God’s mission is at the local, national, and global levels. The one table around which we gather is God’s table and the one mission to which we are called is God’s mission.…
True mission partnership is about building relationships, learning from one another and walking together in faith and friendship. Together we can build the body of Christ around the world.
What about locally? Over the years I have known you, this church has supported food pantries, Information & Referral Assistance Services, distributed Christmas baskets, purchased Christmas gifts, donated countless hats, scarves, mittens, etc., and supported teachers with school supplies. Individuals have served with Associated Benevolence Society, Habitat for Humanity, United Way, Salvation Army, and I’m sure many other agencies and projects I don’t know or remember. You have been giving mission assists faithfully in many arenas. It’s part of how you live out your mission statement to “Receive Christ, Reach Out, and Share Love.”
I’m simply reminding you to continue that important aspect of what it means to be a church of Jesus Christ. We give mission assists now as Andrew did then by looking around us for the resources at hand and offering them to Jesus, letting him put them to work to meet the needs of others. It may not seem like we have much to offer some times, but the quantity is not the point. If Jesus can feed thousands of people with an initial offering of a couple fish and a few loaves of bread, what can Jesus do with what we have available. Remember, it isn’t our own efforts alone that accomplish the task. It’s a team sport, but that still requires us to do what we can do. The point is not to sit on our hands but to get in the game.
What is it we can still do as a church to assist mission needs locally and around the world? Celebrate that! And stay involved where you can. Amen!
*HYMN Open My Eyes #324
You may be seated.)
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.
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, now and forever. Amen.
OFFERING OUR LIVES
God of Mercy and Grace, God of Abundance and Joy, with grateful hearts for all your blessings we offer our lives back to you in service and in praise. Amen.
*DOXOLOGY Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow #592
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH
We believe in “the sovereignty of God,
the authority of Scripture,
justification by grace through faith
and the priesthood of all believers.”
We believe “that God is the supreme authority throughout the universe.”
We believe “Our knowledge of God and God’s purpose for humanity comes from the Bible, particularly what is revealed in the New Testament through the life of Jesus Christ.”
We believe “Our salvation (justification) through Jesus is God’s generous gift to us and not the result of our own accomplishments.”
We believe “It is everyone’s job — ministers and lay people alike — to share this Good News with the whole world.”
We affirm our “conviction that neither the Church as the body of Christ, nor Christians as individuals, can be neutral or indifferent toward evil in the world.”
We affirm our “responsibility to speak on social and moral issues for the encouragement and instruction of the Church and its members, seeking earnestly both to know the mind of Christ and to speak always in humility and love.”
We affirm that as a Church our “duty is not only to encourage and train [our] members in daily obedience to God’s will, but corporately to reveal God’s grace in places of suffering and need, to resist the forces that tyrannize, and to support the forces that restore the dignity of all [people] as the children of God, for only so is the gospel most fully proclaimed; . . .” (see credits at the end of the service notes)
May God strengthen our faith commitment and help us to fulfill our mission as God’s Church and God’s People. Amen.
HYMN Lord, You Give the Great Commission #429
*CHARGE & BLESSING
* Sections of the service preceded with * are times to stand if you are able to do so.
Bold text is to be read together aloud as a congregation.
The affirmation today is based on quotes from the Theology section and Social Issues section of “What We Believe” on the PC (USA) Presbyterian Mission website. (https://www.presbyterianmission.org/what-we-believe/) The Social Issues section also quotes (1958 Statement – PC(USA), p. 537).