Good morning all, I hope you are all well. Please find my Sunday Service copied below for any of you who may wish to read it. I invite you to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, find a comfy chair, close your eyes and take a deep breath, hold if for a few seconds then exhale – and then read through the service. I hope you will find something, some thought that you can take with you through the week which will give you some comfort at this difficult time.
19th July 2020
Wee glimmers of light are appearing in our everyday lives, like precious stones in the sand – with shops opening, many people back to work and so on. It’s good news – but there is a warning for us too – be careful, be alert and be aware that a ‘spike’ is very likely to appear in a month or two, so it is incumbent upon each of us to ensure that neither ourselves or our families are caught by the trap of complacency.
The language and instructions emanating out of from London and Edinburgh often seem complicated and confusing. I guess the simple version is Be Safe and Keep safe. I hope and pray that you do.
Today I intend to change things around a little, by starting a short series of looking as some of the Parables of Jesus.
The parables of Jesus make up a crucial part of the Bible. Jesus had the wisdom to simplify the profound spiritual truths he needed to share with humanity in the form of relatable stories that are easy to understand.
A parable is a tale about a simple, common subject to illustrate a deeper, valuable moral lesson. The source definition of the word “parable” means a placement side by side for the purpose of comparison – as in com-parable.
Imagine an Onion, it has many layers. As you peel off one layer, so you find another beneath, and another layer beneath that – and so on until you reach the centre or “the core of the matter” which is the at the centre of all life ie God’s love for His people.
That‘s how it is with the Parables.
On the outside it has a simple, relatable meaning – but as you peel away the layers, so the meaning, the message, gets deeper.
In those Biblical times it was common for News, Stories etc to be communicated by means of the spoken word – it was an Oral tradition. No Sunday papers, no magazines just father passing on to son or travelling storytellers passing on the news and other tales.
So it would have been quite normal for people to hear important stories put in to everyday language, using everyday illustrations eg the Sower in the field, the weeds, the mustard seed and so on, for the people to understand.
A simple story telling a deeper truth.
Over the next few weeks I will be looking and explain the meaning of a number of better known Parables of Jesus.
There are at least 5 Parables in the Old Testament – and we might even look at a couple of those too.
I hope you will find it interesting – and perhaps realize the relevance and significance that these old Stories have for the everyday lives of everyday people, such as you and I.
But before that – let us pray ~
Holy, Heavenly Father, we come to you from our different homes, in our different stages on our journey of faith, but united in our wish to learn more about you and your ways – and how we can learn to live as you would wish us to.
Walk with us on our journey, enlighten your Word to us that we might put your teaching into practice in our everyday lives.
Bless us father – bless our families and friends too – watch over them and keep them safe, we pray.
Lord, I know that I have no right to ask you all these things – more especially when I think of the things I so often do, say and think – things which I know are not in keeping with my claim to be a person of faith.
Forgive me father, teach me, guide me, help me to be a better person, so that I might be a better example to my family and those around me – but most of all, that I may be a good, shining example of a child of God, for that is what I am, in a world which needs as much light and love as we can give.
Hear my prayer Listening Lord – and hear me now as I pray with all who are praying to you at this time – the family Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer ~
(note slight change of wording to make it more personal to you)
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 me this day my daily bread.. And forgive me my debts as i forgive my debtors.. Lead me not into temptation.. But deliver me from evil .. For yours is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever…. Amen.
(read it through again if need be)
We have 2 Readings this morning ~
Numbers 11 : 4 – 9 – from the Old Testament (O.T.)
Matthew 14 : 13 – 21 – from the New Testament (N.T.)
In our O.T reading we hear Moses reminding the people of God’s goodness to them – and how – instead of being thankful to God – they were ungrateful and unappreciative of God’s provision to them.
It must be remembered that when the Israelites were led out of captivity from Egypt – many people of other, and of no beliefs came too. Those that didn’t know God.
Moses calls them a ‘rabble’ – and it was this group who were a constant source of complaint and unrest.
Perhaps there are those today who don’t know God – and cause unrest and unsettle us in our faith ?
In our N.T reading we hear of that well known miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.
Well – “we know about that” – you might be thinking – but here’s something you might not know – this is the only miracle – apart from the resurrection of Jesus – which is reported in all four gospels.
And it’s probably the best known of all the Parables – so I thought I would begin this short series with it.
There is more to this miracle story than Jesus feeding the 5,000 plus from a wee boy’s piece box.
It echo’s gods provision for his people in the desert – as we heard in our O.T reading – but it also tells us ~ well – see what you think it might also be telling us –
Let’s read them now ~
Numbers 11 : 4 – 9
4 Now the rabble that was among them had a strong hunger; and the people of Israel also wept again, and said, “O that we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; 6 but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”
7 Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium (a kind of camphor-gum) 8 The people went about and gathered it, and ground it in mills or beat it in mortars, and boiled it in pots, and made cakes of it; and the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. 9 When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it.
Matthew 14 : 13 – 21
Jesus Feeds Five Thousand
13 As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. 14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”
16 But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”
17 Another disciple, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up “Here is a boy who has 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
18 “Bring them here,” Jesus said.
19 Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. 20 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. 21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
This is the Word of the Lord – thanks be to God.
It’s good to see that things are showing signs of getting back to ‘normal’ – whatever that is.
For many, these past few months have been pretty much ‘business as usual’ – and for other’s it’s been a much needed break from an otherwise busy life.
With the easing of some restrictions, we might feel that we could do with “getting away from it all” – maybe on some Mediterranean beach – or even a long weekend in Millport!
But getting a break from the usual routine is important.
Recharging your batteries – clearing your mind – blowing away all the cobwebs and returning refreshed – is something that does us all good.
As many find by going to church each week – it’s takes our mind off of the ordinary, everyday things of life and gives us something deeper to think about as we recharge our batteries to see us through another week.
So we can sympathize with the apostles in today’s Gospel reading.
Jesus had just heard of the death of His cousin, John the Baptist and was sad and needed to be alone for a while.
The disciples had just returned from their very first mission and were exhausted.
They’d put the whole of themselves into this demanding and new work of mission, and they were tired.
And Jesus – always sensitive to people’s needs, calls them to rest and recuperate in a lonely place. To recharge their batteries.
Just what they needed!
So they all jumped into a boat and set off for this lonely place across the water.
Perhaps they had shorts, shades and sunscreen with them – who knows !? – the Bible doesn’t actually tell us that – but one thing is for sure – they were more than ready for a break – for some time away from the pressures of work, from the constant demands and the needs of others.
This was going to be their time to chill.
But unfortunately, the people had other ideas – and when the disciples set off in their boat for their lonely place – everyone decided to follow !
It’s a bit like telling my congregation that I am going on holiday to, say, Oban – and everyone decides to go there too, at the same time! And as much as I love them – sometime you just need to get away.
You’d have thought Jesus might have had compassion on His own workers, and say to the crowd something like ~
“Just give us a bit of space will you !?…. You can come back tomorrow, but today we really need to be alone.
We need some time for prayer. Some time just to recharge our own batteries. So go home now and come and find us again tomorrow, we’ll still be here.”
But He didn’t say that. Rather than having compassion on His own workers, He had compassion on the crowd, because He saw them as sheep without a shepherd, lost and afraid and in need of understanding.
So straightaway – He began to teach them – almost as though he couldn’t help himself.
And the apostles went along with it – even though they were desperate for a break – they dragged out that last ounce of their resources and helped Jesus as He ministered to the crowd.
Jesus talked – Jesus taught – and the people sat at His feet and listened –
But time went by – it was getting late. Tummies rumbled – perhaps there were a few grumbles – like their ancestors before them in the desert – as we heard in our Old Testament reading.
The disciples could ‘sense the mood’ – and so they suggested that Jesus send the crowd on their way before it got too late – to buy food and find a comfortable bed for the night in a local village.
But amazingly, Jesus refused. What’s more, He gave His disciples, His weary and exhausted disciples, an impossible task. He said: “they don’t need to go away.
you give them something to eat.”
This wasn’t a case of making a few fishpaste sandwiches –
Verse 21 tells us that 5,000 men – plus women and children – were fed that evening !! So it’s thought there were actually around 6 – 7,000 present that day.
“But we only have five small loaves and two wee fish” they said – well – you don’t get much in a small boy’s piece box !
“Bring them to me” Jesus said in verse 18.
I think that it might have been about now that many of us would have said something like – “look Jesus – I’ve seen you do some pretty amazing things – but there’s no way that 5 wee loaves and 2 even wee ’ er fish are going to feed all these people !!”
But none of the disciples said that.
Despite their tiredness, and in the face of common sense, they trusted Jesus.
Even though privately they may have thought it was a waste of time – they followed Jesus’ instructions and waited to see what He would do.
And what they witnessed, amazed and astonished them –He took the bread – just as we do in our Communion services even yet – gave thanks for it – broke it and then handed it around for all to share in it.
“It’s a miracle !” – someone may have shouted – we don’t know – it’s not recorded for us.
But that’s what it was – a wonderful, astonishing, unexplainable miracle – but then, why not !?.. Jesus is the son of God after all !!
But what was the point of this particular miracle?
What lesson is there for us here, today ? –
What else is this story saying to us ?
Is it to remind us that through God’s power – amazing and seemingly impossible things can be done from seemingly impossible situations.. ? Well – yes –
Is it to show us that when we put our trust in Jesus – He puts His trust in us ? or is it the other way round ?
Or that He puts his trust in us – hoping that we will respond and put our trust in Him ? Perhaps it’s both !
Does it highlight that when followers of Jesus – follow His word – as the disciples did – even though they didn’t feel like it – or fully understand it – then amazing things can happen ? – yes it tells us that too.
All of those are true.
But it is also a very practical demonstration – showing that Jesus nurtures and sustains everyone, not just a chosen few.
He doesn’t turn anyone away.
He didn’t question the crowd first, to discover whether they’ve reached a suitable stage in their faith or have made a firm commitment in order to receive His goodness – all were fed………..
He didn’t say to his disciples “feed only those who are true believers” – no, all were fed………..
He doesn’t judge anyone, to discover whether or not they’re living the right kind of life. He didn’t say “feed only the righteous” – all were fed………..
He doesn’t demand repentance before He offers nourishment. He didn’t say “get them all to show remorse for their sinful ways before feeding them” – all were fed………..
Everyone who was present, received their fill – verse 20 says – “they all ate – and were satisfied !”.
Those hanging about on the edges, just looking but not really taking part – and those anxious to be right in the middle of the action – they were fed.
Those content to wait around and let someone else do the organizing – and those who were tired and fed up with it all, and who just wanted to go home to a decent meal and a soft bed – they were fed.
Those timid people, who don’t mind mingling with the crowd, but who couldn’t possibly be singled out for any reason – Jesus fed them too.
Those who simply followed the crowd. And those who came for a good story or just to be with their friends – they were fed – all received His provision – no questions asked, all were fed.
People like us – different people – coming for different reasons. And that’s okay – because no-one is turned away..
He caters for us – for you – as you read this service – each with our own personal and very different needs.
He knows your needs – your own personal, innermost fears and concerns. He knows how your faith is – whether it’s strong and unshakable or shaky and in need of building up.
He knows if you are fully committed to Him – or if you just manage to fit Him in between other things you feel are more important.
And he knows if you have made that decision to give your life to Him – or if you have yet to make that all important commitment.
He knows each one of us – He knows that, just like those at the lakeside – we are different – all from different places – different ages – at different stages in our beliefs and faith, yet the love and care of Jesus – linked with the faith of the disciples – made a miracle come true for each one of them – as He will for us – for you.
He transforms our vastly inadequate resources into something deeply enriching and satisfying and filling.
Bring yourself to jesus – just as you are – this miracle tells us – however unworthy you may feel – bring your gifts to Him – however inadequate they may seem – place them in His Holy hands – and then sit at His feet and wait for His transforming miracle.
Have faith – this miracle tells us – and you’ll be amazed and astounded at what Jesus can do.
He knows the needs of each one of us – he knows your every need – and he calls you to follow Him to a safe and quiet place within yourself – where He will perform a personal miracle in your heart – as He has in mine – and provide you with all you will ever need.
So – here’s the question raised by this passage –
Do you believe in miracles ?? –
And here’s the challenge –
Will you put all your trust in Him and follow Him ??
Those early followers did – and their lives were never to be the same again –
And that can be true for you – if you give your life – aye – fully give your life to him.
Aye – but will you ?
Well – that’s in your own hands isn’t it !?………..
But I pray that you will – and I pray for you in our Saviours’ name, Jesus Christ.
And may God bless this preaching of His Holy Word – and may all the glory and the praise – be His.
Let us pray ~
Dear Lord, you are our great provider – you give us so much, much more we have ever asked for – much more than we could ever deserve – and we give you our heartfelt thanks.
But we know that there are many, aye too many, who do not have the many blessing that we have.
We ask you to watch over them, help and bless them. Give us a willing heart to search out those in need and help them with their troubles – and where we my not be able to physically help them, let us bring them to you in our prayers.
We continue to remember those who put their own lives to keep us all safe.
The frontline NHS staff – those working behind the scenes – our Police men and women – our Armed Forces and so many more. Watch over them, we pray. Keep them protected and healthy so that they may return home to their families safe and well.
Watch over our families too, we pray, and those we love – and those we ought to love. Remind us that you don’t pick and choose who to love – as we do – you love us all, will all our many faults and failings – how blessed we are!
Help us to find you in our minds and in our hearts, that one day, we will be called into Your home, Your Holy Kingdom, that place of peace and tranquillity – there to live for all eternity. What a wonderfully comforting vision for us to look forward to in this life – as we prepare ourselves for the next.
Hear our prayers Listening Lord – for we bring them to you in the name of your only Son, our only hope – Jesus Christ.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
WE’RE ALL GOING TO HEAVEN – AREN’T WE ?
AREN’T WE !??
AND I AM FAIRLY SURE THAT CAN YOU THINK OF SOMEONE YOU KNOW WHO WON’T BE THERE WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT THOSE PEARLY GATES ?
HERE’S A WEE POEM THAT SOME OF YOU MAY KNOW ~ IT’S A BIT OF FUN – BUT HOPEFULLY IT’LL GIVE US SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT ~
“I WAS SHOCKED, CONFUSED, BEWILDERED
AS I ENTERED HEAVEN’S DOOR,
NOT BY THE BEAUTY OF IT ALL,
BY THE LIGHTS OR ITS DECOR.
BUT IT WAS THE FOLKS IN HEAVEN
WHO MADE ME SPLUTTER AND GASP–
THE THIEVES, THE LIARS, THE SINNERS,
THOSE ALWAYS ON THE BASH.
THERE STOOD THE BOY FROM SEVENTH YEAR
WHO SWIPED MY LUNCH MONEY TWICE.
NEXT TO HIM WAS MY OLD NEIGHBOUR
WHO NEVER SAID ANYTHING NICE.
JIMMY, WHO I ALWAYS THOUGHT
MOST SURELY WAS IN HELL,
WAS SITTING PRETTY ON CLOUD NINE,
AND LOOKING VERY WELL.
I NUDGED JESUS, “WHAT’S THE DEAL?
I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR TAKE.
HOW’D ALL THESE SINNERS GET UP HERE?
GOD MUST’VE MADE A MISTAKE.
AND WHY IS EVERYONE SO QUIET,
SO SOMBRE? – GIVE ME A CLUE.”
“HUSH, CHILD,” SAID HE. “THEY’RE ALL IN SHOCK.
NO ONE THOUGHT THEY’D SEE YOU.” J
Each one of us has a ‘heavenly’ place waiting for us when this mortal life ends for us. EVERYONE.
But the question is – will you live a life worthy of claiming your place? I hope and pray that you do.
IT MAKES YOU THINK DOESN’T IT?
AT LEAST – I HOPE IT DOES!!
Go with God’s love in your heart – and His hand on your shoulder, watching and guiding you in all you say and do..
And may the blessing of almighty God – Father- Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you all – may He be with your families and friends and all who you know and love – and ought to love – this day and every day.
Take care and May God Bless you
And those who you love.