Last Sunday I preached a very important sermon. So important that I wanted to share it with those of you who weren't able to hear it. For those who did hear it, maybe it's worth hearing a second time. 

To see the video... click here.

Below is the actual text of my sermon if you'd rather read it.

The Holy Gospel according to Matthew the 14th chapter.

Now when Jesus heard [about the beheading of John the Baptist], he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted 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 for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

How many of you read my blog this week? If you did, you know I asked you a favor…to read today’s gospel lesson a couple of times and then note what you noticed that you might not have before. It will be interesting to hear what you found. but hang on to those for a moment if you will.

In the beginning Jesus goes off alone to grieve the violent death of his cousin John the Baptist, but as usual the crowds follow him and soon, he finds himself surrounded by a crowd. But instead of taking time for himself it says he had compassion for the crowd and cured their sick. He must have been at it for awhile because it was getting dark. The disciples came to Jesus and said, “We better send these people back into town because it’s getting late, and they’ll be hungry.” Then Jesus said, “They don’t need to leave… you give them something to eat.” “But Jesus”, they said, “all we have are two fish and five loaves of bread!” Jesus told them to bring the food to him. He blessed and broke the bread and gave it to the disciples to pass out to the people. The disciples distributed all the food, and everyone was full. In fact, after the disciples cleaned up after the meal there were twelve baskets of leftovers! Over 5,000 men ate dinner…and that didn’t count the women and children! A true miracle for sure!

Normally I think we focus on Jesus…and that’s always a good thing to do. From the very beginning we see his humanness. His cousin John the Baptist had been beheaded and Jesus was overcome with emotion. He wanted to be alone. Maybe to cry. Maybe to yell at God! But instead, he found himself surrounded by people who needed him. So, he put himself and his needs aside for a bit and healed the people. Why did he do that? Because he loved them. Okay… hold that thought.

Now we’re going to focus on the disciples for a little while. They too were concerned about the people. They noticed it was getting late and the people would be hungry. So, their plan was to have Jesus send the people somewhere else to get food. That makes sense. But then Jesus challenged them. He said, “No. We’re not going to send them away. You feed them.” The disciples: “Uh oh.” Now the ball is in their court and the task in front of them seemed absolutely impossible! Imagine what they were thinking…We only have five loaves and two fish… There’s over 5,000 of them and only twelve of us…It’s going to be dark soon…I’m getting tired just thinking about it… And not only do we have to serve… We have to clean up too… We’ll be here all night…

Well, you know the end of the story. But here’s a different spin on it…It was Jesus who did the miracle… But it was the disciples who did the work! Hmmmm…. Wonder where I’m going with this one? As you know, we are entering a volunteer shortage around here. Several of our hardest working volunteers are retiring at the end of the year. They’ve served at almost every function. Cleaned up. Pulled weeds outside. And countless other things. Now, they’re tired and want to focus on new adventures. But that is going to leave a gap.

You have read that we need a coordinator for WOW. I know the kids really enjoy it and I think the parents do too! But unfortunately, if we don’t have a coordinator by Labor Day WOW won’t be able to happen… and that would be sad. A lot of the people on the Property Team are retiring. That means we need people to step up and help out. If we don’t get more volunteers, we will have to pay for someone to do the work. That would mean a budget increase. We’d have to either cut something or give more.

This Thursday at our council meeting we are going to be prioritizing the ministries here at Peace, deciding which ones are the most important. But we’re going to need the help of every single person in this congregation. Friends… It’s just like the disciples and feeding the 5,000… Jesus did the miracle…But the disciples did the work. Now we can look at that two ways. We have to do the work, or it won’t get done which might mean losing some of our most beloved ministries and traditions. Or we can see where God is working and be part of the miracle by doing a little extra volunteering.

In today’s lesson we heard about over 5,000 being fed because 12 disciples did the work. Imagine what would happen if each of us gave just a couple hours a month to the work here at Peace!

I’d like to invite one of our hardest working volunteers up here to share… Judy Stemen.

As you just heard from Judy, volunteering here at Peace isn’t just work… it’s rewarding. And I think she hit on a really important point. The reason she does it is because she loves God… Loves the church…And loves the people! Hmmmm…. Who does that sound like in our passage today? Our perfect example…Christ himself! God will do the miracle and provide more than enough for everyone. God is inviting us to join him in loving people. God is inviting each and every one of us to follow Christ’s example.


See you Sunday