August 6, 2023 - Home Worship

For the week of August 6-12 – 10th Sunday after Pentecost

Morning Prayer We hunger for You, God, and yet we seek fulfillment in all the wrong places. We feed our fear of scarcity instead of our trust in Your abundance. We fuel our apathy instead of pouring ourselves out in service. We nourish our prejudices instead of meeting You in friendship with those we once called strangers. God, we need You. Forgive us, God, and free us to feast on Your abundant love and pour Your love into the world as we commit to wrestling toward the fulfillment of Your reign on earth as it is heaven. Amen.  (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn: #569 We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations

  1. We've a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right,
    a story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light, a story of peace and light.

Refrain: For the darkness shall turn to dawning, and the dawning to noonday bright;
and Christ's great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light.

  1. We've a song to be sung to the nations, that shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
    a song that shall conquer evil and shatter the spear and sword,
    and shatter the spear and sword. (Refrain)
  2. We've a message to give to the nations, that the Lord who reigneth above
    hath sent us His Son to save us, and show us that God is love,
    and show us that God is love. (Refrain)
  3. We've a Savior to show to the nations, who the path of sorrow hath trod,
    that all of the world's great peoples might come to the truth of God,
    might come to the truth of God. (Refrain)

Psalm 17:1-7, 15

1 Listen to what’s right, Lord; pay attention to my cry!
Listen closely to my prayer; it’s spoken by lips that don’t lie!

2 My justice comes from You; let Your eyes see what is right!

3 You have examined my heart, testing me at night.
You’ve looked me over closely, but have found no wickedness in me. My mouth doesn’t sin.

4 Concerning what others do: I have avoided such violent ways by the command from Your lips.

5 My steps are set firmly on Your paths; my feet haven’t slipped.

6 I cry out to You because You answer me.
So tilt Your ears toward me now— listen to what I’m saying!

7 Manifest Your faithful love in amazing ways because You are the One
who saves those who take refuge in You, saving them from their attackers by Your strong hand.

15 But me? I will see Your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I will be filled full by seeing Your image.

Children’s Time Matthew 14:13-21: Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Children’s Message

Jesus and His disciples were very tired and needed some time to relax. They got into a boat and went away to a quiet place to rest. When they reached their destination, there were people there waiting for Jesus. The Bible tells us that there were 5,000 men and who knows how many women and children! They wanted Jesus to teach them and heal the sick. Jesus needed to rest, but He still healed the sick and taught the people about the kingdom of heaven.

Soon it was time to eat. The disciples went to Jesus and said, "It is getting late and we are hungry. Send the people away so that we can go and get something to eat." Jesus answered, "They don't need to go away," Jesus said, "you feed them." "Feed them? How can we feed them? We have five loaves of bread and two small fish. That is all the food we have."

Jesus told the disciples to bring Him the loaves and fish and to tell everyone to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the loaves and fish and looked up to heaven and gave thanks. He then gave the food to the disciples to give to the people.

What a miracle! If I were to share my small snack with you today, there might be enough for each of you to have one tiny bite. But when Jesus blessed the loaves and fish, the Bible says that everyone ate until they were full! Wait! That's not all! After they had eaten until they were full, they gathered up the leftovers and there were twelve baskets full. Can you imagine taking these little snacks and feeding everyone here today and still having food left over? We couldn't do it, but God could.

What can we learn from this Bible lesson today? We learn that when we give what we have to God, He can take it, bless it, and do more than we could ever imagine.

Prayer on Jesus Feeds the 5,000 Dear Father, just as Jesus used the lunch of a small boy to feed more than five thousand people, we pray that You will use the boys and girls here today to bless everyone they meet each day. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession:  Thank You, Lord, for hearing our prayers for those dear to our hearts.  We now pray as You have taught us: 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, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us, not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen. 

Offering spotlight: Whether you are worshipping in person, with Facebook, or by reading the worship service that has been mailed or emailed, thank you for giving to Lightstreet United Methodist Church.  Your financial support permits the purchase of equipment and supplies so that we can all worship wherever and whenever our schedules permit.

Offering prayer: God of power and glory, as we bring our tithes and offerings to be dedicated to the building of Your kingdom here on earth, we are reminded of all the blessings we have received. As we hear again the story of Jesus feeding 5000 of His listeners, remind us that the best blessings come when we are working for justice, compassion, and mercy for all Your children. Steer us away from being content with the blessings that require little effort. In Christ, we pray. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries, adapted)

Hymn #600 Wonderful Words of Life

  1. Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life; Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life. Words of life and beauty teach me faith and duty.

Refrain:  Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.

Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.

  1. Christ, the blessed one, give to all, wonderful words of life;  Sinner, list to the loving call, wonderful words of life. All so freely giving, wooing us to heaven.  Refrain:
  2. Sweetly echo the gospel call, wonderful words of life;  Offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life; Jesus, only Savior sanctify forever.  Refrain:

Scripture:  Matthew 14:13-21 (CEB)

13 When Jesus heard about John, He withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by Himself. When the crowds learned this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14 When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, He had compassion for them and healed those who were sick. 15 That evening His disciples came and said to Him, “This is an isolated place and it’s getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

16 But Jesus said to them, “There’s no need to send them away. You give them something to eat.”

17 They replied, “We have nothing here except five loaves of bread and two fish.”

18 He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19 He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves of bread and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them and broke the loaves apart and gave them to His disciples. Then the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 Everyone ate until they were full, and they filled twelve baskets with the leftovers. 21 About five thousand men plus women and children had eaten.

Message:  Where are Your Chickens?                       Rev. Ron French

          A few years ago, a pastor named Harry told about an unusual mission from God. He always began his morning with prayer, and one morning during his prayer time, Harry felt God was leading him to fulfill a very specific mission: to buy twelve barbecued chickens. Harry didn’t know what God wanted him to do with the twelve barbecued chickens, so he drove around town praying and asking God to lead him to people who needed food. He sensed God leading him to five different homes in different parts of the town. In one home was a single mother who didn’t have enough food to feed her children. In another home was an elderly couple with health problems. The wife had just been released from the hospital; she was too weak to cook and the husband didn’t know how. In every case the person at the home Harry stopped at had been praying for God to provide food for them. What a marvelous thing, God took twelve barbecued chickens and blessed families all over that town.

          So, here’s the question for today: Where are your chickens? Wouldn’t you like to have that same feeling of satisfaction that Harry had? Wouldn’t you like to see a miracle performed? Wouldn’t you like to feel that your life had some ultimate purpose? So, where are your chickens?

          The Gospel lesson for today is from Matthew’s Gospel. A large crowd had come out to the countryside to hear Jesus teach. Matthew tells us that Jesus had compassion on the multitude and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to Him and said, “This is an isolated place and it’s getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go into the village and buy food for themselves. But Jesus said to them, ‘There’s no need to send them away. You give them something to eat.’ They replied, ‘We have nothing here except five loaves of bread and two fish.’ He said, ‘Bring them here to Me.’ He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves of bread and the two   fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them and broke the loaves apart and gave them to His disciples. Then the disciples gave them to the crowds. Everyone ate until they were full, and they filled twelve baskets with the leftovers. About five thousand men plus women and children had eaten.” (14:15-21)

          This event in Jesus’ ministry gives us a beautiful illustration of how God works in this world. First of all, Jesus sees a need. This is where the stories of His miracles always begin – with His compassion for people. He sees a multitude of people who are hungry. He sees a man blind from birth, he sees a man who is lame, another with leprosy and he had compassion on them. Compassion means to “feel with” another. Jesus feels our pain. He is aware of our hurt. He sees our need.

          Storyteller Jack Maguire tells about a young woman in one of his classes who recalled a time from her childhood when a neighbor granted her a moment of grace. The woman had grown up in a unique situation: she and her family were poor, but they rented an apartment in a wealthy section of the neighborhood. As a young girl, she would sneak out at night to wander the streets of her neighborhood, admiring the luxurious homes of her neighbors. On one of those midnight strolls, she poked around the shed of a neighbor and found a bag of marshmallows. Marshmallows were a luxury her family could not afford. She took the bag of marshmallows home and ate every last one. After that, she checked out the shed every time she took one of her midnight strolls. And every time, she found a fresh bag of marshmallows in the shed. Years later, as an adult, the woman visited her old neighborhood again. She felt compelled to seek out her old neighbor and confess to being the marshmallow thief. Imagine her surprise when her elderly neighbor announced with a smile, “We left those marshmallows for you!”

          A neighbor saw a little girl’s need and had compassion. In the same way God looks upon the world’s needs and has compassion. Brothers and sisters, this is where every miracle begins – with the compassion of God. And this is true whether we are talking about the healing of our bodies or the healing of our souls. But there is a second requirement for miracles.

          And that second requirement is that someone gives God something to work with.

 In the Gospel of John’s telling of this story (chapter 6), a young boy comes forward with the fishes and the loaves. These were his barbecued chickens...and God begins the miracle when someone offers a gift, starts a ministry, stretches out a helping hand. Someone says, “I know how to solve this problem.” And God kicks into high gear to use that effort, however feeble, to His glory and to humanity’s good.

          I’ve talked about this before, but it cannot be over emphasized. Christianity is not a lone ranger faith. It is a partnership between God and humanity. And it is a partnership of people of faith working together. Miracles begin with the compassion of God, but they are greatly enhanced when someone gives God something to work with. That is why I ask you again, “Where are your chickens?” We make a small offering and then God takes our offering and blesses it.

          You may wonder why the Lightstreet United Methodist Church receives an offering every week. After all, God is all powerful. He doesn’t need what we give. And yet, we keep receiving an offering. WHY? All I can say is this: this is the way God has chosen to work. He works in partnership with His children. It is a spiritual principle that is as solid as God’s compassion. If we try to go it alone, we will never see miracles happen. You can pray, and pray, and pray some more, but if you don’t give God something to work with – like your devotion and service – you are not apt to see miracles either. This is the secret to every great work that is done in the world. We give our best; God does the rest.

          This is also the secret to joy-filled living. Some of you will hear this message and think to yourself, Pastor Ron is trying to lay a guilt trip on me. He’s trying to get me to take on one more burden, as if I don’t already have enough burdens. If that is what you are hearing me say, you have missed the message entirely. Placing something in God’s hands that He can use to His glory and humanity’s service is the key to abundant living.

Sisters and brothers it is the key to lasting happiness.

          Ask Edna Tomevi if that is not true. Some years back she read an article about a mission project that really touched her heart. Inspired to support the project, she began collecting money – one penny at a time – from fellow members of her church. Edna learned that it takes 85,000 pennies to make a mile, so, in July of 1997, she challenged her church to contribute “miles of pennies” for the Society of St. Andrew’s gleaning projects. This organization goes into fields and orchards to gather food that has been left behind after the harvest and in turn gives that food to organizations that feed the hungry.

Every Sunday during the morning worship, Edna announced to the congregation how may pennies were given that week. The pennies are cashed in and mailed to the society to help pay the fees associated with processing and transporting the food. To date, Edna, who is 88-years-young, by the way, and her church have collected more than $2,600 worth of pennies. They are now working toward their fourth mile of pennies. Edna says she hope her church will continue to raise money this way indefinitely.

          Nothing dramatic. Just an 88-year-old woman helping God make miracles happen in people’s lives. She could be sitting in front of a television all day. She could sit around reminiscing about how grand things were when she was younger. But Edna says she now has a purpose for living. She is contributing her loaves and fishes – her barbecued chickens, if you will, and it is bringing joy to her life as well as to others.

          So, where are your chickens? God has great compassion for humanity’s needs, but He works in partnership with His people who care about others and want to see miracles occur in this world. And when people participate in God’s work in this world, they discover meaning and purpose and, yes, even joy. Are you one of those people?

Where are your chickens?

Hymn: #572 Pass It On

  1. It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing.

That’s how it is with God’s love once you’ve experienced it; you spread His love to everyone;

You want to pass it on.

  1. What a wondrous time is spring, when all the trees are budding; the birds begin to sing,

The flowers start their blooming. That’s how it is with God’s love once you’ve experienced it;

You want to sing, it’s fresh like spring, you want to pass it on.

  1. I wish for you, my friend, this happiness that I’ve found; you can depend on Him,

It matters not where you’re bound.  I’ll shout it from the mountaintop;

I want the world to know; the Lord of love has come to me, I want to pass it on.

Go into your week with the blessings of The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit.