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Sunday, July 26, 2015, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fools say in their hearts, "There is no God."
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.
The LORD looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who
seek after God.
They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no,
not one.
Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not
call upon the LORD?
There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the company of the righteous.
You would confound the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge.
O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be


Baptism is the sign and seal of Gods grace
It is an outward sign of Gods inward grace on us. And when we accept the call to baptism, we
are publicly proclaiming our faith and acceptance of that grace, promising to live it out faithfully,
even if imperfectly.
If you have not been baptized, let me know if you are ready. We can do it!
It is a sacrament of the churchAnd one of the ways we ordinarily experience Gods grace:
When we have chosen to be baptized, and when we see another get baptized, we re-experience
Gods grace by being reminded of our own baptism.
Baptism is a public event, a cause for celebration for the whole family of faith. And when we
baptize a person, we are publicly thanking God and promising to adopt this new person into the
family, to become, in effect, their many many God parents as they grow through the years to a
mature faith. For this reason we also acknowledge infant baptism as valid.
God of our awakening
we have named our fears;
we have named those things
that hold us back
and keep us from moving beyond
where we are.

You have taken our fears

our inhibitions
and our complacencies
and you have invited us
passionately and compassionately
to fly on the wings of your Spirit.
We look to the sky
we look on the streets
we look in the alleyways
we look in our homes
we look to the mountains and the rivers
the valleys and the seas
we look into the eyes of one another
those we know,
and those we are meeting for the first time
we look at individuals,
we look into communities
we look throughout your whole creation
and we see potential.
Where there is despairwe see the potential for hope.
Where there is hungerwe see the potential for satisfaction.
Where there is warwe see the potential for peace.
Where there is prejudicewe see the potential for fellowship.
Where there is oppressionwe see the potential for justice.
This list could go on
but when we dare to look at the world through your eyes
when we make enough room for your Spirit to enter in
when we have the audacity
to trust your perfect vision for creation
all there is to see is potential.
So inspire us
in the midst of hatred and destruction,
abuse and neglect,
natural disasters and human-generated disasters
inspire us with the stories of loving and building up,
respecting and caring,
helping and sharing and repairing
so we may cling to your Spirit
as she leads us beyond where we are
into a way of life that reflects your goodness
just as Jesus prayed


For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven
and on earth takes its name. 16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that
you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ
may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18I pray
that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length
and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you
may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far
more than all we can ask or imagine, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all
generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
JOHN 6:1-14
After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of
Tiberias. 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for
the sick. 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4Now the
Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5When he looked up and saw a large crowd
coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these people to
eat?"6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7Philip answered
him, "Six months' wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." 8One of
his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, 9"There is a boy here who has five
barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?" 10Jesus said, "Make the
people sit down." Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five
thousand in all. 11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed
them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12When they were
satisfied, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be
lost." 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by
those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14When the people saw the sign that he had
done, they began to say, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world."

Sermon: A Slice of Heaven

While I was on vacation in CT, I went to the Mecca of Pizza Places. Above the front
door of this pizza place it says on the sign: Mystic Pizza A Slice of Heaven.
Mystic Pizza was made famous by the movie of the same name. It was based on the lives
of ordinary people who worked there.
But let me tell you about the pizza. It WAS a slice of heaven.

Sauce was spectacular and fresh, like it was homemade. Ample toppings. Also the
cheese, but not too much. Just enough cheese to hold it all together. And the crust wonderful.
To borrow an expression coined by Benjamin Franklin he said this about wine but I say
Pizza is proof that God loves us.
Can I hear an Amen?
Well, that is, of course, if you dont get heartburn.
Wherever we look we can see proof that God loves us. Especially with food, although
this is because we are fortunate to be living in a First World Economy. But even in the Third
World, and in the ancient world, food has always mattered and been a sign of Gods love.
Look at the message from John today. Jesus performs a sign of Gods love for those
5,000 people and he uses the sign of his power to multiply and provide in abundance food. This
is such a familiar story. The problem they face is they have been following Jesus seeking signs
from him for a while now, as if they are spiritually hungry to see what he can do. Helping the
sick, the blind and the lame. Teaching with power and authority. Jesus doesnt seem fazed by
the fact 5,000 people have been following him. They obviously crave signs, more than just food.
When it starts to get late, and its dinner time. Jesus doesnt even seem to consider
sending them away to take care of their own needs. It is part of his agenda for the evening that
he feeds them. The disciples are the ones who have a problem with this. For they are thinking in
practical terms, Lord, where are we going to find enough food to feed these 5,000 people?
We can, as people who are concerned with the call to be missionaries in our own
backyard, put ourselves into the shoes of those disciples. Our mission field is about 5,000
people. Thats about the size of Tucumcari. And even though we know that we should be like
Jesus, follow in his footsteps, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, help the poor, just like we are

told in Matthew, When you do this to the least of these, you do it to me, we still wonder how
in the world we are going to do all that, and where were going to get the resources. Sometimes
we find ourselves lacking abundance in the very things that people cry out needing. Our
churches are short on help. Short on finances. Short on energy. We want to be the abundant
givers of the help Jesus is known for and what people expect from a big church.
But we dont have to stop providing people signs of Gods love. Consider what you have
in great abundance that has always signified Gods love for you. And you discover that the most
powerful sign of Gods love has been the relationships you have. Friendships that helped you
through hard times. Its time to pass it on. Someone who listened to your problems and didnt
judge. Pass that on, remembering how it made you feel. So many people might come along
seeking material goods, but we are called to signify Gods love for them. Sometimes the money,
the motel room, the free food doesnt signify Gods love anymore, since the government has
become a source of charity for many.
Friends, we may look around Tucumcari and feel like we are living in a land of poverty.
But you and I are living with plenty enough to give a sign of Gods love. The resources we have
to give have changed. But we are still blessed with what we need to be a sign for another. That
sign looks like good old fashioned friendship and hospitality. There are people hungry, not just
for food but also just hungry to see a sign. Some of them could be rich, some poor, some healthy
some sick. We never get a description of who were these 5,000 people Jesus fed. We just know
he did so they would all experience a sign of Gods hospitality for all.
Assurance of Gods love doesnt always come through those material things. It comes
through relationship. Now that is a slice of heaven. Let us pray.

Lord, make us signs of your love for the world. And help us in those moments when we
feel depleted of all power to be a sign. Keep us practical, but still able to trust your power to
multiply the resources with which you have entrusted us. Help us to trust you for you have given
us plenty to do your work. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Next Sunday we continue our Whats a Presbyterian? Summer Adult Education series on
Sundays at 9:30 in Fellowship Hall. Its not too late to join in the conversation.
Ever had a question about God? The Bible? Or something theological? Your question might
become the next sermon topic. Please write your questions down and drop them in the jar in the