Worship Today

July 25, 2021

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Rev.  Joyce DeGier VanderSpek, Minister
Stephanie Burgoyne, Music Director
Kaitlyn Vandertuin, soprano

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GOD’S PEOPLE GATHER PRELUDE

 PRELUDE                                    “Andante tranquillo”                      P. Whitlock

 WE ARE CALLED TO WORSHIP

CALL TO WORSHIP

Great is the Lord who is worthy of praise.
No one can ever measure the greatness of our God.

Let us worship God who is faithful in all things.
We will sing of God’s power and speak of God’s loving kindness.

O God, we proclaim you our ruler in all things,
and we will praise your holy name forever and ever.

Hymn 477  Your hand, O God, has Guided

Words: Edward Hayes Plumptre (1821-1891), alt  Music: basil Harwood (1859-1949)  
Words: public domain  Music: (c) the executors of Dr. basil Harwood. 

* PRAYERS OF ADORATION AND CONFESSION

Gracious and generous God,
we gather each week in wonder, marveling at your mysterious presence
in the awesome beauty of the world,
and in surprising encounters in our lives.

We gather with grateful hearts, amazed by the abundance in your creation,
abundance we can share at our tables and in our communities,
abundance in food, in friendship and in faithfulness.

We gather with hopeful hearts,
seeking another taste of your love for us,
hoping that others will share in the wonders of that love.

Your love for us all is mysterious and miraculous, O God,
with the power to transform times that overwhelm us and lives that hunger for hope.

We gather, trusting that you will move once again in our worship,
and open before us the new possibilities you create for all your people
in Christ, the Bread of Life, bread for our journeys.

Gracious and Generous God,
we gather each week to be fed by your love,
trusting that you embrace each of our lives.

We confess we are not nearly so generous with our love.

We hold back what we have,
fearful we lack enough for our own purposes and desires.

We take advantage of opportunities for ourselves,
and forget to see if someone else is in need.

Forgive us, O God, when our fear makes us stingy with your gift of abundant love.

* LORD’S PRAYER

Our Father who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses as
we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,
forever and ever. Amen.

ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS

The Letter to the Ephesians declares that Christ dwells in our hearts through faith,
for we are being rooted and grounded in his love.
The forgiveness he offers is a gift of this love
that is wider and deeper than we can ever imagine.
Receive God’s forgiveness with faithful hearts,
and be at peace with God, with yourself and with one another.

WE HEAR GOD’S WORD

SCRIPTURES

Old Testament: 2 Kings 4:42-44 (NIV)

Feeding of a Hundred

42 A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said.

43 “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked.

But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” 44 Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.

 Responsive Psalm 145: 10 -18

 10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD;
and all your faithful shall bless you.

11 They shall speak of the glory of your realm, and tell of your power,
12 to make known to all people your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your realm.

 13 Your realm is everlasting,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations. 

All the words of the Lord are faithful;
All the deeds of the Lord are gracious.
14 The LORD upholds all who are falling,
and raises up all who are bowed down.

15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.

17 All the ways of the LORD are just;
 All the doings of the Lord are kind.
18 The LORD is near to all who call,
to all who call on the Lord in truth.

New Testament:  Ephesians 3:14-21   (NIV)

A Prayer for the Ephesians

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Gospel:  John 6:1-21 (NIV)

 Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

 6 Sometime after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Jesus Walks on the Water

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

HYMN 348               Tell me the stories of Jesus

Words: William henry parker (1845-1929), alt  Music: Frederick Arthur Challinor (1860-1952)  
Words: public domain  Music: (c) National Christian Education Council

MEDITATION                        “Rooted and Established in Love”

Have you walked or hiked a section of the Bruce Trail?

The Bruce Trail is a hiking trail that runs from the Niagara Peninsula to Tobermory. The main trail is over 890 km long and mostly follows the Niagara Escarpment. The trail runs up and down the escarpment and features many waterfalls. Hiking portions of the Bruce Trail has become a favourite pass time. Being surrounded by mature trees and moss covered rocks fills me with awe and wonder and refreshes my soul.

When the mosquitos allow me to stop and gaze in wonder, I love inspecting the roots of trees seeming to grow out of rocks. Many trees have their roots wrapped around rocks and there doesn’t seem to be soil for them to gather nutrients to grow. Below is a picture of tree roots that I took this spring while hiking on the escarpment west of Owen Sound. A big maple tree is growing out of a rock crevice.

Are you a gardener? Or have you ever tried to grow and nurture a plant? If you are a gardener or have tried to make a plant flourish, you know that plants need healthy roots and good nutrition to grow and produce healthy leaves, flowers or fruit.

In the letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul prays,

“16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Paul prays that the people in Ephesus would be rooted and established in love. Roots absorb and transport water and minerals from the soil to the rest of the tree. Roots also anchor the portion of the tree above ground. It is important to keep the portion above ground healthy to ensure an adequate food supply for the roots to continue their important functions.

What does it mean when Paul prays that the church in Ephesus would be rooted and established in love? What is the message for us today? What does it mean for our lives that our source and nutrients of our lives comes from love? What does it mean for the stabilizing force of our lives to be love?

Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church invites us to contemplate the dimensions of Christ’s love for us. This is our lives’ work and this is the source of our power; grasping how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ is. It is worth time, reflection and contemplation.

When you reflect back on the past day, week, month, year or decade, where do you see God’s love? Please consider taking some time to reflect on times when God has made his love evident to you.

God’s love is vast and beyond our comprehending, beautiful beyond our appreciating, and wonderful beyond our imagining.  God’s love encompasses everything: past, present and future; near and far; what we have discovered and what remains hidden.  God’s love is above and beyond, among and within, high and holy, close and compassionate.  

God's great love leaves us breathless with astonishment.  Paul prayed that we would know what he admitted was beyond knowing: the breadth and length and height and depth of love.  It includes everyone and everything, radiates with a redeeming grace which envelops all our shame and guilt, and shines with a dazzling glory which fills every shadowy corner of our hearts and of the universe with hope.

Thankfully, this prayer isn't a list of assignments for us to carry out or expectations to meet or demands to shoulder.  The God who has been made known and real to us in Jesus isn't standing over us with a clipboard and a checklist.  There is nothing in this prayer that hints at a self-help project or a self-improvement regimen. 

The prayer simply and compellingly invites us to realize how much God loves us--to experience God's surrounding, encompassing, and holding us with love.  And it promises us that God will fill us when we are empty, make us strong when we are weak, and keep us rooted and grounded when everything is changing.

I invite you to experience this prayer for yourself.  Ask God to thrill you again with a sense of wonder and majesty, to fill you with God's own life, and to show you all you can comprehend about the wide embrace of divine love. Receive God's strength, so that you may live faithfully and joyfully in these challenging times.  Open yourself to God's fullness, so that the once-empty places in you may overflow with abundance and glory.  We have a vast, loving, and powerful God who is "at work within us" and "is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.  To that God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever."

WE RESPOND TO GOD’S WORD

 Prayer of Dedication

God of abundant love, we offer our gifts to you willingly, yet sometimes we wonder what they can achieve in a world of great need. Bless our gifts and multiply them in your love. Surprise us with your power, working in us and through us, to accomplish worthy things in the name of Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life. Amen.

* DOXOLOGY

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
raise Him above, ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

PRAYERS OF COMMITMENT, THANKSGIVING AND INTERCESSION

God of mystery and miracle,
You are calm in our storms and challenge in our satisfaction.
We give you thanks for all the ways we have tasted your abundance,
in friendship and fellowship,
in food on our tables and safety on our doorsteps.
Amid these everyday satisfactions,
keep us mindful of those who lack the necessities of life
and who find each day unpredictable and anxious.
Like Jesus’ disciples caught on the rocky sea, we fear the storms of life.
So many people know turmoil in war and displacement.
Into the unrest around us, call out to us.
Come near to us and overcome our fear.

Throughout the world and in our own communities,
we witness increased divisiveness
and hatred toward those considered a threat.
Into the unrest around us, call out to us.
Come near to us and overcome our fear.

In so many countries and in our own neighbourhoods,
we witness great inequity and deep need for even the staples of life.
Into the unrest around us, call out to us.
Come near to us and overcome our fear.

In our communities, congregations and families,
we witness uncertainty about the future
and the cost of months of pandemic isolation and lockdown.
Into the unrest around us, call out to us
Come near to us and overcome our fear.

In our own lives and the lives of so many friends and neighbours,
we witness depression, anger, anxiety and despair,
as we cope with the uncertainty of these months of restrictions
and the grief they have caused.
Into the unrest around us, call out to us.
Come near to us and overcome our fear.

We hold before you in these moments of silence
the people and places in need of your healing presence.

HYMN 352               And can it be that I should gain

Words: Charles Wesley (1707-1788), alt  Music: Thomas Campbell (1825-1876) 
Words: public domain  Music: public domain

* BENEDICTION

I ask God to strengthen you by the power of the Spirit—
not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—
that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.

And I ask God that
with both feet planted firmly on love 
you’ll be able to take in with all Christians
the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.

Reach out and experience the breadth!
Test its length!
Plumb the depths!
Rise to the heights!
Live full lives—full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—
far more than you could ever imagine or guess
or request in your wildest dreams! 
Not by pushing us around
but by working within us,
through the power of God’s Spirit.

All glory to the God of Creation! 
All glory to the Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ!
And all glory to the Spirit of God, at work among us and within us!

Go in the love of God!
Amen.
- based on Ephesians 3:16-21 The Message

* CHORAL AMEN

 POSTLUDE                               “Festal Fanfare”                                J. S. Bach


This bulletin is © 2021, Copyright publication Alexandra Presbyterian Church, 410 Colborne St., Brantford, ON 
Hymns from the Presbyterian “The Book of Praise” Pew edition, © The Presbyterian Church in Canada, 1997
CCLI  License #11200173