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Scriptures & Message for Tenth Sunday after Pentecost August 1st, 2021
 First Reading   –   Exodus 16:2-15

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.  The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow My instructions.  On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”

So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because He has heard your grumbling against Him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?”  Moses also said, “You will know that it was the Lord when He gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because He has heard your grumbling against Him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.”

Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the Lord, for He has heard your grumbling.’”

While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.

The Lord said to Moses, I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”

That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.  When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.  When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.

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Second Reading   –   Ephesians 4:1-16

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, Who is over all and through all and in all.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.  This is why it says:  “When He ascended on high, He took many captives and gave gifts to His people.”  (What does “He ascended” mean except that He also descended to the lower, earthly regions?  He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)  So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.  From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

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Gospel   –   John 6:22-35

The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with His disciples, but that they had gone away alone.  Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.  Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.

When they found Him on the other side of the lake, they asked Him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”  Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.  Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.”

Then they asked Him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”  Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.”

So they asked Him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe You? What will You do?  Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”  Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.

 

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MESSAGE
Don’t Rock the Boat

“Don’t rock the boat!”

How many times have you heard that? “Don’t rock the boat!” It means to “keep the peace,” to “not stir things up,” to not push the envelope, to not provoke, to avoid change and stay in the box…and keep things the same. To worship the status quo. If you do “rock the boat,” who knows? Something unexpected might happen! And surely that would not be good!

I imagine that must have been the way Jesus’ disciples felt about their world too. And about their situation regarding the Pharisees. The disciples followed Jesus wherever he traveled. They saw the controversy Jesus kicked up wherever he went. They witnessed him doing some very strange and unusual things. They saw how he riled up the religious establishment. Sometimes, like when they saw Jesus speaking alone with the Samaritan woman, they had to bite their tongue. But they said nothing.

Obviously, they did not think Jesus was playing it safe a lot of the time. They were fearful during Jesus lifetime, and would be even more fearful during the time of Jesus’ death –enough for them to run and hide, to deny their master, for one of them to betray him.

Jesus was rocking the boat a bit too much. More than a bit. And it made them worried and anxious.

Whether you read about Jesus asleep in the storm-ridden boat, or Jesus walking upon the waters in the early morning mist after a terrible storm, either way, Jesus was not concerned about the “rocked” boat.

Jesus’ disciples were appalled that he would sleep during a perilous storm. They were incredulous that he remained unconcerned.

They thought he was a ghost when he appeared walking across the sea. And even when Jesus was with Peter, even when Peter dared have the courage to step onto the water, he doubted, feared, faltered. Even when Jesus was right beside him.

Even when Jesus was in the boat with them!

Jesus is Lord of the waters, the Lord of the wind and the waves, the Lord of the storm. The weather obeys him. The seas subside for him. Who does this remind you of?

Remember when the waves of the sea parted? Who did that?

Remember when the seas that would have drowned someone, instead allowed for a certain someone to reside for a while in the belly of a fish, who then spit him up later onto dry land?

Remember that other someone who floated in a basket down the river through the reeds without harm?

Remember the great vessel that carried some of God’s chosen through many days of vicious floods to the safety of dry land?

Remember whose breath moved across the primeval waters in the first days of the earth?

Jesus –the Son of God–He is the Lord of the seas! And he has the power of the One who created the waters and the dry land.

Jesus, like the God of the Hebrews, has the power to command the elements, to save humankind from the perils of earth and sea, to raise up God’s people from the waters of the deep, and place them on dry ground, to “tend and till” God’s covenant. Again, and again, God, rescues, redeems, reconciles, restores God’s people.

And like the covenant of our baptism, we are lifted from a watery and uncertain existence and given life and assurance by the One and Only Savior.

Jesus wonders, why do his disciples have so little faith? I am right here!

God’s people! Why so little faith in following the Spirit? Why so little faith in in allowing the church to change? Why so little faith in taking a leap of faith and moving forward? Why so little faith in allowing “the boat to rock?” Jesus …he is right here!!

Listen –hop aboard the Jesus vessel –and you will have the ride of your life! Jesus LOVES the water. He is not afraid of a rocking boat! When Jesus is aboard, there is nothing to fear of the wind and the waves.

One of the oldest metaphors of the Church is a boat. You will find the image throughout the early church. And where is a boat meant to be?

The boat is meant to be out in the middle of the sea! Sailing, riding the waves, looking for new horizons, going on adventures, fishing for new people!

You know where the worst place is for a ship to be during a storm?

Hugging the harbor! While a boat needs to harbor occasionally to refuel and stock up on supplies, during a storm if the ship remains in the harbor, it will crash against the rocks and the shore and be pulverized to bits! The place for a ship during a storm is riding the high seas!

To be a Jesus follower is to ride the waves of the Spirit in all kinds of weather, knowing that Jesus is there with you in the boat…. that Jesus is near.

One of the earliest metaphors for the tradition of the church is the anchor. But the anchor described (in Hebrews 6) is not used to pull the boat back or keep it from moving. The anchor is used when the wind is high, and the storm is raging to pull the boat forward. It is called kedging.

You throw the anchor out in front of the boat, then pull the rope, so that the boat can move forward during the storm and escape crashing on the shore.

Jesus is like the anchor for us. Always steady and sure even when we are not…he pulls us forward during the storms of life, always leading us into peace even when around us the winds are roaring, and the waves are threatening.

Jesus’ peace is a peace within. On our own, we falter and fall. But with Jesus beside us, we are always sure to survive every turbulence.

Do you remember when you learned to ride a bike? I mean the first time without those training wheels.

When you thought your father or mother was in back holding onto the back of the bike, you sailed along confidently. But as soon as you noticed, he or she was standing by the road watching you, your confidence waned, and you panicked. You started to wobble, and you began to fall.

We all waver when we believe we are doing life all alone.

It is frightening, even for the best of us.

But faith is knowing that God has hold of your bike, even in the wildest of rides. Faith is knowing your life is always in the hands of Jesus, even when life blinds you and deafens you.

We, the Church, need to sail the seas too. Sometimes, the boat will rock. And that is ok. Because Jesus is here.

If the Church has Jesus at the helm, there is nothing to fear going out there in any kind of weather. In any kind of storm.

The question today is, do you know that Jesus is in the boat?

Because a church cannot “do” Jesus. You must be in relationship with Jesus! You cannot be the Church of Christ if Christ is missing.

The good news is…. Jesus is never missing! Sometimes we miss him! Sometimes, we fail to see him, or do not recognize him. Sometimes, we ignore him, or deny him, or discard him!

But look behind you…look around you…. Jesus is right there…. holding on to YOU.

This morning, I call for you to renew your baptism….and your mission….to put your hands into the waters and splash some onto your face, wipe your face with the towel. Cleanse away all your fear. Cleanse away all your doubt.

What remains when you emerge –that’s faith.

Go…in faith….to sail the seas of the Spirit!

Amen and Amen