Thursday, 29 July 2021

Marsden Road Worship Sunday Pentecost 10 HC - 01 August 2021

Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

Food That Endures.

Sunday 01st August 2021

Pentecost 10 Sunday year of Mark 9.30am 

Gathering God’s People       

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal. 

May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land. 

Call to Worship

        Encourage one another to live as people worthy of God’s calling.

     As one body of Christ,

     we gather together this day.

     Blessed by one Spirit,

     we gather in unity and love. 

Hymn TIS 526: Lord Jesus Christ, you have come to us.

                       (tune – Living Lord) 

     Opening prayer

     Speak truth to us this day, O God. Speak truth to the most inward parts of our hearts and minds, that we might speak your truth in love and that you might speak your truth through us each and every day. In your holy name, we pray. Amen. 

      A Prayer of Confession

      Gracious God, we want to live as people worthy of your calling. Help us recognize your gifts and blessings, that we may live up to our calling and bless others with our words and our lives. When we fall short, have mercy on us.    When we don’t know our mistakes, speak truth to us with your loving guidance. Create a new heart within us, a heart full of love and gratitude. Nourish us with the grace of your presence, that we may indeed live as people worthy of your calling. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

In Christ’s grace, our hearts are cleansed, and our lives are made whole. In Christ’s grace, we are forgiven and loved for life.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

Accept one another with love, as we have been accepted with love. In the unity of God’s Spirit, let us exchange signs of Christ’s peace.

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.) 

Offering Prayer

For calling us into ministry with you, we give you thanks and praise, O God. For gracing us with gifts and abundance, we are ever grateful. Bless these gifts we now dedicate to you, that they may nourish others with the grace of your presence. In gratitude, we pray. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 411: Filled with the Spirit’s power.

                       (tune – Woodlands)                                    

The Service of Holy Communion 

The Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.

And also, with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, to bring our thanks and gratitude to you, God of love and grace. Since the beginning of time, you have created us in your image, nourished us with your wisdom and grace, called us into relationship with you, and invited us to live lives worthy of your calling. When we failed to live in a manner worthy of this calling, and when we wandered lost on the paths of death and destruction, you continued to walk with us, nourishing us with your wisdom and grace. In the words of prophets and poets, you have spoken your truth in love, reminding us of your call, and showing us the way to answer it. In the fullness of time, you came to us as the bread of life, as Jesus the Christ, speaking truth in new and renewing ways, calling us to unity and peace, showering us with mercy and grace, and inviting us to live as your people on earth. And so, with your people on earth, and all the company of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn, saying:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

Holy, are you, and blessed is Christ Jesus, the bread of life. With joy and gratitude, we remember that night when Jesus took a simple loaf of bread, broke it, and transformed it with his love, saying: “Take, eat, this is my body, the bread of life, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And so, in remembrance of these, your mighty acts of nourishing love and grace, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving. Called to be your people and yearning to live worthy of our calling in the unity and peace of your Spirit, and in union with Christ’s love for us, we proclaim the mystery of faith.

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again!

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us and on these gifts of bread and wine, that they might become for us the bread of life and the living water. May they strengthen us to live as your people, and may they nourish us with grace for eternal life. By your Spirit, make us one with you, one in unity and peace with each other, and one in the ministry to the world until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at your heavenly banquet. Through Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, all honour and glory is yours, Almighty God, now and forevermore. Amen.

Blessing and honour and glory and power are yours for ever and ever. Amen.     

The Breaking of the Bread

Because our bred has come from one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
The bread which we break is a sharing in the body of Christ.

The cup over which we give thanks is a sharing in the blood of Christ.

Thanks be to God. 

Lamb of God

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

grant us peace. 

Invitation to Communion

As tangible as grain plucked by Jesus and his disciples, as mysterious as the Presence known by our faithful ancestors, so is the meal we are about to share. Let us open our hearts and hands, as we remember and partake together. 

Prayer after Communion

Eternal God, we give you thanks for this holy mystery in which you have given yourself to us. Grant that we may go into the world in the strength of your Spirit, to give ourselves for others, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

The Service of the Word 

First Reading:                                            Ephesians 4:1-16

The Gospel Reading:                                John 6:24-35

After the final reading the reader will say      For the Word of the Lord

                              Please respond by saying                  Thanks be to God.

 Readings: NRSV Translation 

Ephesians 4:1-16

1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling,
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. 7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
8 Therefore 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? 10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until 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. 14 We 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.
15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knitted 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.

John 6:24-35

24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ 26 Jesus 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. 27 Do 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.’ 28 Then they said to him, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ 29 Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’ 30 So 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? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” ’ 32 Then 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. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ 34 They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ 35 Jesus 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. 

Preaching of the Word - Food That Endures

A deep spiritual hunger is implanted in every human heart. Different people will seek to fill this need in different ways, but the hunger is not unique. People yearn for a deeper connection, an eternal spiritual connection, and when that is lacking will seek any means to be fulfilled.

Jesus said he came that we might have life and that abundantly. Yet, he who offered fullness of joy was often met by people with simpler, lesser needs. In the fifth chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus met a Samaritan woman who longed for living water so she wouldn’t have to keep returning to the well each day. Jesus started with that basic need and used it to forge a relationship with her that ended with the woman reconnected to God and to others in her community.

In our gospel reading for today, Jesus has met the immediate needs of a host of people. Those remaining after he fed 5,000 with a little fish and bread seek out Jesus. Jesus tells them, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”

The previous day, Jesus fed their physical hunger with bread and fish, and the crowd sought him out once more. Jesus points them to their spiritual hunger, which is what he really wanted to fill. After all, the people were created to love God and love others as they loved themselves, and in chasing after other needs, they risked getting further from the real nourishment they needed.

Jesus compares this to the original bread from heaven, manna, with which God miraculously fed the children of Israel for 40 years in an uninhabitable wasteland. This was the daily bread that would come anew each morning, with enough to last the day and a double portion for the Sabbath. Now Jesus compares the daily bread of manna, which God gave in the desert, to the Bread of Life, which God offers in Jesus Christ. Jesus says, “Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Jesus offers nourishment, which goes to the heart of our most basic human need to fill a spiritual hunger. Having been created to be in relationship with God, without that connection, we can feel empty.

It is an easy move to connect Jesus referring to himself as the Bread of Life to the Eucharist. For in the mystery of the Eucharistic feast we eat the bread and drink the wine, and in so doing we partake of the body and blood of Jesus. But we don’t want to jump to that correct response so quickly that we miss the bigger picture.

This discourse comes when Jesus has two more years of ministry ahead of him. In fact, this is, after all, John Chapter 6, out of 21 chapters. There is much more time left in Jesus’ ministry before he gets to that last meal with his disciples. John’s gospel makes clear what the other three gospels only hint at: the Eucharist is not about Jesus’ death alone. Jesus’ self-giving act in communion is not only concerned with the Last Supper, the cross and the empty tomb alone. Jesus’ whole life, rather than just one or two events, will institute the sacrament of communion. Put differently, faith is not in Jesus’ death and resurrection alone, but in Jesus’ whole life – from Bethlehem to Golgotha, and beyond to an empty tomb in a garden, Jesus’ appearances to his disciples, and his ascension to heaven.

Everything Jesus did – who Jesus was and how he acted – are part of God’s revelation to us. We cannot separate one part of his life from the rest. Nor should we have a Christian part of our lives separate from the rest of our lives. We are to take Jesus’ whole story and make it part of our whole story. This is much more than hearing the word, it is word and deed.

In baptism, we do not simply hear of Jesus’ baptism, but water is poured over us as a sign that we are united with Christ through baptism. We don’t just hear the story, we actually get wet. In the Eucharist, we don’t merely listen to the words, “Take eat,” but we actually get up, come to the altar rail to take and eat. It’s not just the bread that we take, bless, break and give. God took Jesus’ whole life, blessed, broke it and gave it to us. We are to let that story of God’s love for us take us, bless us, break us and give us back to the world.

Jesus wanted those who followed him after having their fill of fish and bread to discover real spiritual nourishment so that they would never hunger again. And yes, one is fed through the Eucharist, but this too is only part of the picture. Our Sunday worship is to be just a part of how we are fed spiritually.

Compare spiritual nourishment to food. Eating out once a week in a restaurant is not unusual. In fact, it is rare to find someone who eats out only once a week. But what if that was the only meal the person ate. Someone who goes back to their familiar seat in a restaurant week after week to enjoy their one meal of the week could never be nourished enough to make it through the remaining six days.

In the same way, common worship in church on Sunday is meant to be an important part of one’s spiritual food and drink, but it will never sate your hunger if this is your whole plan for feeding you spirit.

Fortunately, many denominations of the Christian Church have centuries-old norms of daily prayer that are well suited to filling this void. The Daily Office can be used Morning and Evening Prayer and are found in various Prayer Books including our Uniting in Worship 2 or for Anglicans the Book of Common Prayer. They are a wonderfully enriching daily devotion. When praying in this way, together with the daily scripture readings, one is better prepared to meet whatever comes. It is not that troubles never occur to people who pray and read their Bible; it’s just that those who marinate daily in prayer and scripture are more connected to God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Then whatever comes, they can call on that connection.

For those looking for an easy way to get started, there is the very helpful “Forward Day by Day,” which in booklet form or online offers a brief daily reflection to accompany the scripture readings. The booklet offers the same readings as those used in the Daily Office. Either way, you’ll spend 15-20 minutes out of each day re-centring your life in the ground of your being, the God who made you and redeemed you. There is no better way to nourish your spiritual side than through a daily meal of prayer and scripture reading.

So much of our lives is spent working for the food that perishes. We must work to earn food, water and shelter and all the extras that make life enjoyable. But we know there is more to life than the daily grind. For a fulfilled life, one should commit a portion of each day to prayer and reading the Bible, for that is the food that endures for eternal life and the gift of Jesus who came so that you might have an abundant life. 

Hymn TIS 535: I am the bread of life.

                       (tune – Bread of Life) 

Intercessory Prayers  

      After the words:            In your mercy,

      please respond with      hear our prayer. 

Pentecost 10 – Year B

Jesus, bread of the world, receive our prayers for all your people: for those who hunger for freedom, for justice, for release from poverty and disease; for all who struggle for the peace and welfare of the world.

When we are greedy and take what is not ours, when we stockpile food while others starve, put a right spirit within us, that we may share with justice the resources of the earth and feed your hungry people.

Jesus, in your mercy, hear the prayers we offer.

Jesus, food of pilgrims, receive our prayers for your body, the church: for all who hunger to know your forgiveness and love; for all teachers and pastors and all who bring your good news to others.

When we preach a message that neither satisfies nor disturbs, when our divisions and discord make your gospel hard to hear, empower your church anew, that we may be strengthened for your ministry and feed your hungry people.

Jesus, in your mercy, hear the prayers we offer.

Jesus, true and living bread, receive our prayers for this community: for those whose daily needs for food and shelter are unmet; for those whose longings for recognition and love go unsatisfied; for our neighbours, our families and all whom we hold dear.

When we turn away from the needs of those around us, when our relationships with others are unforgiving and unkind, help us grow into your likeness, that we may bring your love to others and feed your hungry people.

Jesus, in your mercy, hear the prayers we offer.

Jesus, bread of life, receive our prayers for all who are in need: for all in anguish, sorrow, confusion, or fear, for all who are sick or in pain.

When we wander in the desolate places of life, when we abandon ourselves to your goodness, fill our emptiness and satisfy our longing s; make us courageous in adversity and give us compassion for all who suffer, that we may feed your hungry people.

Jesus, in your mercy, hear the prayers we offer.

Jesus, bread of heaven, hear our prayers for all who have died: we give you thanks for prophets and apostles, for martyrs and evangelists, for the faithful people of this parish who have gone before us.

In life, feed us and sustain us, and at our death open the doors of heaven, that, in the company of all who believe in you, we may be welcomed to your eternal presence.

Jesus, in your mercy, hear the prayers we offer. 

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 569: Guide me, O my great Redeemer.

                       (tune – Cwm Rhondda)       


         In the Spirit of peace, we go into the world. May we share the unity and love we have found here that others may touch the presence of Christ’s peace, and the grace of God’s love. Go with the love of God our creator, redeemer, and giver of life. Amen. 

        Hymn TIS 779: May the feet of God walk with you.

                       (tune – Blessing Song).

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Marsden Road Worship for Pentecost 9 - 25 July 2021


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford


 As we are back in Lock Down with no Face to Face Worship there are You Tube adresses for Hymns that can be used with this worship and have lyrics as part of the You Tube
Of Cabbages and Kings.

Sunday 25th July 2021

Pentecost 9 Sunday year of Mark 9.30am 

Gathering God’s People       

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal. 

May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land.

Call to Worship

(Abingdon Worship Annual 2021)

        Fools say in their hearts: “There is no God.” The faithful prove the foolishness of these words, not with their words, but with their actions.

Why have you come to this place?

We are tired in body and spirit.

Why have you come today?

We have come to follow Jesus.

Come and eat your fill.

But there are only five barley loaves and two fish.

There is plenty for all.

Jesus gathers the fragments of our lives, that nothing may be lost.

Come! Let us worship. 

Hymn 133: O worship the King all glorious above.

                 (Tune – Hanover) 

     Opening Prayer

     God of steadfast love, fools say in their hearts: “There is no God.” May our words and our very lives prove that we are not foolish. May our faith be as constant as the North Star, and may others know that we are Christians by our love. Amen. 

Prayer of Confession

God of our hopes and dreams, we are empty, and long to be filled; we are hungry, and long to be fed; we are lost, and long to be found.

Invite us once more to eat our fill and find our true nourishment in Jesus, the bread of heaven.

Just as Jesus gathered up the fragments of the five loaves and two fish after feeding the five thousand, gather up the pieces of our lives and shelter us in your love. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

As God restored the fortunes of Zion, exiles were like people who dream— people filled with rejoicing and gladness. As God restores our fortunes, let us join their glad song and their rejoicing.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

In response to the love, we have found in Christ—a love that passes all understanding—let us share signs of Christ’s peace.

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.) 


Caretaker of our souls, in your love, nothing is lost. As Jesus gathered the leftover food after feeding the five thousand, gather our offerings into your service. As Jesus gathered the longing of those who looked to him to be their king, gather our longing to do your will. As Jesus gathered the outcasts to your heavenly banquet, gather our fellowship into your host of saints. Bless the gifts we have gathered in your name, that nothing may be lost, and that everything may be gained. Amen. 

Hymn 650: Brother, sister, let me serve you.

                 (Tune – Servant Song)              

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            2 Samuel 11:1-15

The Gospel Reading:                                        John 6:1-21

After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the Lord

Please respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

2 Samuel 11:1-15

1 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. 2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. 3 David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, ‘This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ 4 So David sent messengers to fetch her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself after her period.) Then she returned to her house. 5 The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, ‘I am pregnant.’ 6 So David sent word to Joab, ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house, and wash your feet.’ Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. 9 But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord and did not go down to his house. 10 When they told David, ‘Uriah did not go down to his house’, David said to Uriah, ‘You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?’ 11 Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing.’ 12 Then David said to Uriah, ‘Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.’ So, Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day. On the next day, 13 David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house. 14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 In the letter he wrote, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.’ 

John 6:1-21

1 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ 8 One 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?’ 10 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. 11 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. 12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14 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.’ 15 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. 16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 got into a boat, and started across the lake to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The lake became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20 But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ 21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land towards which they were going. 

Preaching of the Word - Of Cabbages and Kings.

The world is a hungry place. People are hungry for food, for jobs, for love, for care, for leadership that cares. The list of our hunger goes on and on. What the Bible knows is what we all know – all of our hunger centres around a spiritual void. We are hungry for God. That hunger is very real, and yet we deceive ourselves into believing we can feed that hunger with other things such as food, money, fancy clothes, fancy cars, more technology, more stuff.

We accumulate so much stuff, stuff that we believe says something about who we are – stuff that we somehow mistaken for who and what we are. We accumulate so much stuff that our homes overflow with stuff, until we have to go beyond the home and rent storage spaces. That is, we have to store the excess amount of our self somewhere else, so that our self becomes fragmented, separated into different places. We become a problem to ourselves – or what we believe is what we are, what defines us: the clothes we wear, the house we live in, the cars we drive and so forth.

This, in all likelihood, is mostly a Western civilisation problem. It is a problem driven by our desire to be like everybody else – especially those who have more than we have. And it is becoming a worldwide problem, as our principal export is a lifestyle based on the accumulation of more and more stuff. The whole world desires to be just like us.

This is all driven by a belief that there is not enough stuff in this world, so we had better stockpile as much as possible for ourselves. This perceived scarcity of stuff leads to trade imbalances, the stealing of resources from other parts of the world, and eventually manifests itself in trade wars that can soon turn into outright warfare. So, then we need to accumulate more resources, more stuff, dedicated to the protection of what we already have. We end up demanding leaders who can assure us that our stuff will remain ours forever and ever.

Into such a world steps Jesus. Rome had conquered Israel and turned it into a client state, exporting all its goods to other parts of the empire, and charging outrageous taxes on those goods at the same time. It was a dangerous time to be a client of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Rome demanded full loyalty.

So along comes Jesus. The Jesus in John is declared from the first verse of the fourth gospel as God – the Word, the logos – in the flesh. Indeed, this is the only way to make sense of someone who can take five barley loaves and a couple of fish and feed thousands of people with lots and lots of leftovers! Barley loaves, as opposed to wheat loaves, is the food of the poor. The lesson here is quite simple, and yet one that we refuse to accept: The need of the world is not too great for our resources if it is the Lord who directs the use of those resources. (NZ produces enough food for 40 million people but unable to feed own 4 million at reasonable cost for all)

A mighty big “if.”

Meanwhile, the people try to make him king. That would seem to be appealing. Look at how people in every conceivable human community clamour to become king. Right now, we are looking at two individuals who will marshal millions if not billions of dollars for the right to become or remain “king.” Look around the world where competing individuals and groups of individuals resort to violence to gain and maintain a position that reflects “kingship.”

Then look at Jesus. Nothing doing. As soon as there is a hint that the people might make him the next king, he sneaks off to be alone. Why, might we ask ourselves? It might have saved him having to go to Jerusalem only to be crucified, dead and buried. Why would he turn his back on what others count as the ultimate goal?

Here we may do well to recall that Jesus appears to have studied scripture pretty carefully. At every possible turn of events, he can marshal quotations from every corner of Hebrew scripture. So, no doubt at this juncture he very well may have the eighth chapter of the First Book of Samuel in mind. This is the episode when Israel demanded that the boy prophet Samuel appeal to God to give them a king – because, after all, they reasoned, all the surrounding countries have kings, so they should have one too.

This signalled a lack of trust in the God of the Exodus, who up to this pivotal moment, had raised up judges to pull the tribes together in times of great danger. When the danger passed, so did the judge, and people went back to life in their tribal clans with their diffuse political connections. But at the time of Samuel, with threats from surrounding kingdoms, the people demanded a king to unite them and make them strong. God tried to dissuade Samuel. Samuel tried to dissuade the people in chapter 8 of First Samuel, saying, in effect, “A king will take your sons and make them soldiers and send them to war; and take your daughters and make them his servants; he will take your fields and produce, and tax you on all of it; until you will wish you had never asked for a king, but by then it will be too late.”

But the people persisted, and God gave them Saul, which did not work out particularly well. And then David, and, well, look at what happened to David in this Sunday’s episode in 2 Samuel 11:1-15. After failing to pull off a cover- up of his indiscretion with Bathsheba, he used his authority of the military to have her husband Uriah killed in battle. Under the reign of Solomon, the kind of consolidation of power and goods becomes so acute that the people attempted a social revolution, so unhappy were they with their once-desired king.

Verna Dozier, a wise lay leader in the Episcopal Church, in her book “The Dream of God,” called this demand for a king the “Second Fall” after the episode in the Garden of Eden. The third fall happens early in the life of the church, at the time of Constantine, when the church goes from being an alternative to the Empire and allows itself to become the Empire – the Church becomes king. The impulse is the same in 2 Samuel as it is under Constantine – we want to be like everybody else. And yet, to this day we are still looking for a way out of being an Imperial Church and somehow find our way back to the very beginning.

For as anyone can see, Jesus will have none of it. And yet, we continue to hitch our wagons, our stars, our souls and our very being, to the belief that with just the right “king” all shall be well.

We find ourselves clinging to models of leadership and institutional power that the Bible repeatedly warns us against. And we wonder why it no longer works. Again, read about David and the so-called Wise One, Solomon, and see how quickly it all fell apart even then, approximately 900 years before Jesus.

It is no wonder that God decided the only way to get our attention was to come down himself and be one of us. God in Christ invites us once and for all to give up any notions that being like everybody else has any life-giving sustainability. The accumulation of power and stuff will never fill the spiritual void that keeps us from becoming the people God wants us to be.

Our portion of the gospel today ends with the disciples heading off in a boat across the sea. They run into rough waters and high winds. When all seems about lost, Jesus appears. The text is not entirely clear – it could mean he was walking on the water, but it can also mean he was “on the seashore.” So, we can read this to say there he was, on the shore, to welcome them ashore when after much hard work and treacherous time they approached him and the shore. He simply says, “Be not afraid.” Note, as soon as they see him, as soon as he says this, they are immediately safe ashore!

Can it be that for St. John the meaning is to be found in the peace that pertains once we willingly receive Jesus to be our companion? Companion – literally, one with whom we share bread. He who is the Bread of Life, the Bread from Heaven, the True Bread – our manna, our sustenance, our daily bread. As theologian and former Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple said, “Christ is the guide of life whom we follow in the strength that He supplies into the way of Peace.”

That’s pretty much it. We can continue to trust in our appointed and elected leaders, and trust in the accumulation of more and more stuff. Or we can trust in Jesus, who withdraws again to the mountain to be alone.

What if we were to withdraw day by day to be alone with Jesus? How might we allow him to be our daily bread? The need of the world is not too great for our resources if it is the Lord who directs the use of those resources. Once we trust in the Lord, we will find ourselves on the other shore, safe and secure from all alarm with nothing to fear. Our deepest and true hunger can and will be satisfied, if only we will continue to use oars and row our way to the other side – his side – to the country that needs no king. 

Hymn 256: The Servant King.

                  (Tune – Servant King)

Intercessory Prayers  

Pentecost 9 Sunday – Year B

God our Creator, we give you thanks that you disclose yourself to us in all the mysteries of your creation.

We pray for your beautiful, broken world: for all who live in places of war, disease, degradation or famine; for leaders of nations and for all who work to alleviate the misery of others.

As you fed your people of old, feed today your people, who hunger for food, for security, for wisdom, justice and peace. Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God our Redeemer, we give you thanks that you, come to us in the person of Jesus, feeding us with your body and blood.

We pray for your church: for those who eat at your table and those excluded from your fellowship; for the people of this congregation and for all who minister here in your name.

As you fed your people of old, feed today your people, who hunger to know your good news of forgiveness and grace.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God our Companion, we give you thanks that you come to us in the joy of human relationships.

We pray for all with whom we share our lives: for our families, our friends and those with whom we work and play; for the people of this community, for the homeless, and the unemployed.

As you fed your people of old, feed today your people, who hunger for dignity, acceptance and love.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God our Healer, we give you thanks that you come to us in the dark and lonely places of our lives.

We pray for all in trouble or distress: for the friendless and unwanted and those who mourn the loss of loved ones; for those whose bodies ache, whose minds are confused, whose spirits are sad. We pray for the sick and the dying and for all who minister to them. As you fed your people of old, feed today your people, who hunger for hope and healing, comfort and consolation.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God our Lover, we give you thanks that in life and in death you hold us in your embrace.

We give you thanks for all who have loved and followed you.

As you fed your faithful people of old, feed us today, who hunger for your presence, and at our life's end bring us, with all your saints, to eat at your heavenly table.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen. 

Hymn 690: Beauty for Brokenness (God of the poor)

                 (Tune – Beauty for Brokenness) 


        Go to follow Jesus, who gives us the bread of life.

        Go to walk in the ways of Christ, who strengthens us in our inner being through the power of the Holy Spirit.

        Go to serve our living Lord, who gathers the fragments of our lives, that nothing may be lost.

        Go with the love of God our creator, redeemer and giver of life. Amen. 

Hymn 778: Shalom to you now.

                 (Tune – Somos Del Senor)