The Feeding of the 5,000


Welcome to First Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.  We are very glad you joined us for worship today, and we hope you will come again.  Our congregation is part of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, a worldwide Christian denomination in the tradition of the German Protestant Reformation.  Central to our faith is the biblical doctrine that we are justified by grace through faith.  That is to say, God forgives our sins and puts us right with Him by His great love for us, made manifest through Jesus Christ’s death and Resurrection, which we receive through faith in Him. 

Communion Statement: At our Sunday worship services we celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion.  We believe and teach that the Holy Communion is the true body and blood of Christ, given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins.  If you are a baptized adult Christian who shares this belief, you are welcome to receive Holy Communion this morning.  Children and adults not receiving Communion may come forward for a pastoral blessing.  If you have any questions about Holy Communion, we encourage you to talk with the Pastor or an Elder.   We are eager to share our Confession (statement) of faith and Communion instruction with you.

 

Ringing of the Bell - The bell rings as the call to worship, reminding us to discontinue conversation and reverently prepare for worship.

Prelude

Welcome and Announcements

Lutheran Service Book Divine Service Setting One
Stand

642 O Living Bread from Heaven                                               LSB 642
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Tune and text: Public domain

CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION

The sign of the cross may be made by all in remembrance of their Baptism.

Invocation
P     In the name of the Father and of the TSon and of the Holy Spirit.
C     Amen.

Exhortation
P     If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
C     But if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Silence for reflection on God's Word and for self-examination.

Confession of Sins
P     Let us then confess our sins to God our Father.
C     Most merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve Your present and eternal punishment. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your holy name. Amen.

Absolution
P     Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the TSon and of the Holy Spirit.
C     Amen.

SERVICE OF THE WORD

Kyrie
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This Is the Feast
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Salutation and Collect of the Day
P     The Lord be with you.
C     And also with you.

P     Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, though we do not deserve Your goodness, still You provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may acknowledge Your gifts, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C     Amen.

Sit

Psalm                                                                            Psalm 136:1–9
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who alone does great wonders,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

First Reading                                                                     Isaiah 55:1–5
“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.”

A     This is the Word of the Lord.
C     Thanks be to God.

Gradual                                                                         Romans 11:33, 36
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.

Epistle                                                                             Romans 9:1–13
I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

A     This is the Word of the Lord.
C     Thanks be to God.

Stand

Common Alleluia and Verse
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Holy Gospel                                                                  Matthew 14:13–21
P     The Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, the fourteenth chapter.
C     Glory to You, O Lord.

Now when Jesus heard [about the death of John], he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

P     This is the Gospel of the Lord.
C     Praise to You, O Christ.

Sit

636 Soul, Adorn Yourself with Gladness                       LSB 636 sts. 1, 3–4, 8
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Sermon                                                                            Pastor Eric Ash

Stand

Apostles’ Creed
C     I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
     maker of heaven and earth.
 
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
     who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
     born of the virgin Mary,
     suffered under Pontius Pilate,
     was crucified, died and was buried.
     He descended into hell.
     The third day He rose again from the dead.
     He ascended into heaven
     and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
     From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
 
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
     the holy Christian Church,
          the communion of saints,
     the forgiveness of sins,
     the resurrection of the body,
     and the life T everlasting. Amen.

Prayers

(each petition ends with the following response) P Let us pray to the Lord,    C Lord have mercy.

Pax Domini                                                                              LSB 163
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SERVICE OF THE SACRAMENT

Stand

Preface
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Proper Preface
P     It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places offer thanks and praise to you, O Lord, holy Father, through Christ our Lord; who on this day overcame death and the grave, and by his glorious resurrection opened to us the way of everlasting life.  And so, with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn: 

Sanctus
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The Words of Our Lord
P     Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, gave  thanks, broke it and gave it to the disciples saying, “Take, eat; this is My T body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.”

In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: “This cup is the new testament in My T blood, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

Lord's Prayer
C     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 trespasses
          as we forgive those
          who trespass against us;
     and lead us not into temptation,
     but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom
     and the power and the glory
     forever and ever. Amen.

Agnus Dei
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Sit

Distribution                                                                             LSB 164
Take, eat; this is the true body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, given into death for your sins.
Amen.

Take, drink; this is the true blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, shed for the forgiveness of your sins.
Amen.

In dismissing the communicants, the following is said:

The Dismissal
P     The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you in body and soul to life everlasting. Depart Tin peace.
C     Amen.

Stand

Thank the Lord
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Post-Communion Collect
P     We give thanks to You, almighty God, that You have refreshed us through this salutary gift, and we implore You that of Your mercy You would strengthen us through the same in faith toward You and in fervent love toward one another; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C     Amen.

Benediction
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648 Glorious Things of You Are Spoken                          LSB 648 sts. 1, 3–4
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Tune and text: Public domain

CLOSING RESPONSE
P     Go in Peace! Serve the Lord!
C     Praise be to God!

Acknowledgments
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Created by Lutheran Service Builder © 2018 Concordia Publishing House.

 

 

 


 

Pente 9 A   Mt. 14:13-21   August 2, 2020   Trinity, Wellsville, NY


Jesus Meets Our Needs


Good Morning and welcome to Eric Ash Lutheran Church.  I am your pastor, Eric Ash.  You are probably wondering how I am doing today.  You’ll be glad to know Eric Ash is doing of just fine.  In the sermon today I will be telling you about all the wonderful and exciting things I am doing.  But enough about me, let’s talk about you.  What do you like most about me?


I am kidding, of course.  The church is not about me.  Sometimes though, churches do devolve into personality cults where it seems the pastor is worshiped more than God.  It’s also true that some pastors imagine themselves as deserving to be the center of the church’s attention, supplanting God.  We always need to remember the church is not about any mere human being; it’s all about Christ.


This morning in the sermon, I do plan to share with you some very personal stories about myself.  I hope I am not doing that to in any way aggrandize myself.  Worship is not about me.  The other side of that coin is that when you share personal things about yourself, you also make yourself vulnerable (and we have the scars to prove it).  My hope is that I can illustrate through what God has done in my life what He can and is doing in your life.  My life is not perfect, far from it, and it’s not exemplary either, but it just happens to be the life I know best and the one I can talk about openly without breaking confidentiality. 


I would not be surprised if many of you have had similar experiences like mine.  It was about 20 years ago that I first noticed that I had some hearing loss.  A lot of wives think husbands have selective hearing loss; they only hear what they want to hear.  I used to joke, “Melanie says I don’t listen to her.  At least I think that’s what she said… I wasn’t really listening.” 


It was coincidental then, when I went to my first audiologist, he took some tests and afterwards asked me, “Do you have trouble hearing women and children?”  I said I did.  Then he said (and please don’t take offense), “Do you want to hear women and children?”  Of course I said I did!  The audiologist went on to explain that with hearing loss one stops hearing the higher frequencies first, so it was typical to not hear the higher voices of women and children. 


So, I got my first hearing aid.  It was miraculous.  I said to Melanie, “I think I can hear my fingernails growing.”  It was great to hear things like crickets chirping and birds singing again.  There were also some drawbacks too.  I kept asking Melanie things like, “Did the car always make that noise?  Does the refrigerator always sound that way?”  They did.  Also, I’d be walking down a hallway and think someone was coming up behind me.  There was no one there.  I’d forgotten what the sound of my own footsteps sounded like. 
Time went on.  My hearing got worse.  I went from wearing one hearing aid to two, and then to increasingly bigger and stronger hearing aids.  In some ways, this was not unexpected.  My mother, her father and brother, and my sister all developed hearing loss early in life.  By age 60 they were all virtually deaf.  That was my genetic fate too. 


Along the way, a new problem developed for me.  Vertigo.  Once I did some sit ups in our basement, and when I was done, I was so dizzy I had to crawl upstairs on my hands and knees.  A couple times when I got up in the pulpit to preach, the room was spinning so badly I had to hold on to the pulpit for dear life.  When I was doing a wedding on the beach in Delaware and a gust of wind literally blew me off my feet, I knew I had to have this checked out.


So, I went to see a specialist in vestibular medicine.  He put me through tests that were a lot like amusement park rides with spinning chairs and flashing lights.  They injected freezing cold water in my ears and then scalding hot water.  It was not pleasant, to say the least.


The doctor gave me the results.  He said my inner ear functioning and sense of balance were all but totally gone.  I asked him if things would get worse.  He said, “If you ain’t got nothin’,you got nothin’ to lose.”  Thank you, Bob Dylan.  I asked him if he thought I could continue serving as a pastor.  He told me I should “get a desk job where I didn’t have to talk to anybody.”  That was one of the worst days of my life. 


I hoped that God wasn’t finished with me yet as a minister of Word and sacrament.  I knew someone who had gotten help through the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.  I called them and they made an appointment for me with a social worker.  She herself was deaf and we spoke through a sign language interpreter.  When the evaluation was over, I asked the question again, “Can I continue serving as a pastor?”  She said that I could “absolutely serve as a pastor for as long as I wanted.”  That was the word of hope I needed to hear.


Upon her recommendation, I took physical therapy for a few months.  I would balance myself on all kinds of contraptions and walked around blindfolded.  The purpose was to teach me how to balance myself using my eyes and the sensations in the soles of my feet, rather than my inner ear.  Things got better but one consequence was that I had to walk with a cane.  I also saw a new audiologist who fine tuned my hearing aids until I was eligible for cochlear implant surgery. 


Getting a cochlear implant was both awesome and awful.  They surgically attached an electrode to my skull under my scalp.  A processor in my ear attaches to the implant with a magnet.  The first weeks after the surgery (they have to wait until the incision heals before they can turn it on) I was totally deaf.  When I could hear again, everything sounded mechanical, like the old robotic voices.  Over time it got better, but it was hard at first for me to distinguish one voice from another.  It took me months to recognize Melanie’s voice.  I still have trouble when I’m on the phone knowing initially if I’m talking to a man or a woman. 


Things are much better today. But by no means are they perfect.  However, I can hear, I can walk, and I can serve as your pastor.  I’m doing just fine.  You might recall that I said my physical therapist had me walking with a cane.  You probably have never seen me walk with a cane, although I’m relatively certain the documents Call Committee received about me said I did.  Why no cane? 
Luther’s explanation of the Eighth Commandment prevents me from being too specific.  Let’s just say there is much prejudice against people with disabilities.  After a particular incident of being discriminated against, I ditched the cane and, by God’s grace, I haven’t walked with one since.  And now, here we are. 


I’m certain many of you have had worse medical conditions and more dramatic stories of healing, of God meeting your needs..  So, what’s the theological/spiritual point of my very personal story and your personal stories?  It has to do with Jesus miraculously feeding more than 5,000 people with just a few loaves and fishes.  The people who came out to see and hear Jesus in the wilderness had needs.  They were sick and Jesus healed them.  They had not heard the gospel and Jesus preached it to them.  Then evening came.  They were hungry and they had no food. 


Jesus met them at the point of their need.  Jesus meets us at the point of our needs too.  Jesus knows what bothers us.  Jesus knows what troubles us.  Christ knows how we have been injured and abused and treated unfairly.  Not only does Jesus know, he cares.  And not only does he care, Christ has the power to do something about our bad situations.  God does miracles.
What’s a miracle?  We could say that a miracle is when God chooses to act outside the limits He usually sets for Himself.  Feeding the 5,000 was a miracle.  A miracle is also in a sense a sermon acted out in real life and in real time.  Jesus told the people about God’s love and his ability to help them.  The miraculous feeding showed them God’s grace and power.  Jesus met them at their point of need and gave them just what they needed.


This gets dangerously close to the words from another classic rock song, but God gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want.  I would have wanted to be healed without a surgery, without physical therapy, and with all the traces of my disability removed as if by magic.  That wasn’t what God chosen for me, but He did make it possible for me to live out my calling in another way. 
God gave me what I needed.  Things such as surgery and physical therapy are modern day miracles.  They come to us as surely by God’s grace and power as did the miracles of old.  Bypass surgery, chemotherapy, vaccines, other medical treatments are miracles as well.  Christ is still working miracles, still working healings among us, still meeting our needs. 

 

If we read on in the Bible, we find that there were people who wanted Jesus to feed them for free every day.  That wasn’t God’s intention.  The main point of feeding the 5,000 wasn’t the bread itself.  The point is the love of God and His power active in our lives.  We respond to that with faith.  Just as the reading and preaching of God’s Word creates faith, so do God’s mighty acts in the Bible and in our lives elicit our faith.

   

It's no mere coincidence that this miracle in our gospel reading today has to do with bread and people being fed. The miracle we witness here each Sunday is bread and wine becoming Christ’s body and blood for us, a means of grace.  In this sacred meal our sins are forgiven, and we know the true presence of Christ.  That is what we all really need, and it is miraculous.  Amen.