Ninth Sunday after Pentecost- Week of July 25, 2021
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: Amazing God, you give us good gifts. Help us share these gifts so that we might be a blessing to others. Amen.
Reflect on the Way of Love together: This week’s practice on the Way of Love is BLESS. In this week’s story, one boy’s lunch became a blessing for thousands of people! How can you use your gifts to bless many other people?
Adult and Small Child
Read: John 6:1-21
Reflect: If you were going out for the day, would you bring a lunch? Jesus’ friends were no different except they did not have lunch boxes. They put their lunches in their pockets. Jesus knew that some people had big lunches in big pockets and some people had nothing. A little boy heard someone say, “I am hungry.” He was part of God’s big plan to teach five thousand people who wanted to be more like Jesus. When the boy shared his fish sandwich, everyone copied him. All the lunches turned into a big, blessed party. People said, “It is a miracle!” People said, “There are enough leftovers for each family.” When people were hiding their lunches, it looked like there was no food. Even Jesus’s best students were a scared. But when people shared their lunches, it was a blessing. It took a kid to show all those people how to have lunch with God. Learning not to be afraid at lunchtime made Jesus’s friends braver and ready to bless.
Respond: Even adults have a hard time learning to share. When people do not share what God has given them, the world looks hard and scary. Here is a game you can play to be like the boy with the fish sandwich. Try to replace the word my with the word God’s. You might say, “I made God’s bed,” or “Have you seen God’s blocks?” Remembering that everything belongs to God makes it easier to share. It might sound funny if you say, “I love God’s friend,” instead of “I love my friend.” But it is a good reminder that God gave you the friendship to teach you about God’s love. Sharing can be hard to learn. You can copy people who are good at sharing until you become the teacher for someone else.
- Lea Colvill
Adult and Elementary
Read: John 6:1-21
Reflect: In this passage,
we see Jesus offering a generous blessing of food to 5,000 people. Jesus also performs
a miracle by walking on water to meet the boat the disciples are traveling in.
Both of these episodes end with people wanting to reward Jesus for what he has
done. Those Jesus fed try to make Jesus their king. The disciples ask Jesus to
get into their boat so they can transport him over the sea. Jesus refuses these
rewards. What Jesus does find important enough to do is thank God for the gift
of the food before distributing it and saving the extra food after people have
eaten, so that people can continue to be blessed, even after he has left. The
boat was also immediately in Capernaum, instead of in the middle of a stormy
sea, once Jesus spoke to the disciples. Jesus helps make sure his friends reach
the city they are going to teach in so that people can continue to be blessed
by the learning about God. What does this tell us about blessing, and what
Jesus thinks is important when blessing others?
Respond: What anonymous acts of kindness can you share today? Find a small act of kindness you can share right where you are. If you are in your church building, it might be helping straighten up your classroom or picking up the discarded papers left in the Sanctuary. If you are at home, consider gathering some tasty and easy-to-prepare foods from the kitchen to take to a local food pantry. If you have some time to prepare, make up a “blessing bag” of socks and tissues and hand sanitizer for unhoused people or cut fleece lap blankets for your congregation’s homebound and nursing home residents. If you want to keep working on sharing blessings throughout the week, cut bread-shaped ovals of brown construction paper to look like loaves or slices of bread and write the acts of kindness you want to try on them. Save them just like Jesus had the apostles save their leftovers. Keep them in a basket for when you have inspiration and share a new ‘loaf’ each week until you run out.
- Carla Christopher Wilson
Adult and Youth
Read: John 6:1-21
Reflect: The feeding of the 5,000 is commemorated at a church near the Sea of Galilee in a small village known as Tabgha. The first church built on this site was erected in 350 CE. Dating back to at least the fifth century, there is a famous floor mosaic located just in front of the altar depicting two fish flanking a basket containing four loaves of bread. Legend holds that the fifth loaf is the bread used at the celebration of the Eucharist, allowing the story to play out again and again for worshipers at this ancient church. If we only see this gospel story as a sign of God’s abundance, we may miss an important message. When tested, do you think Philip remembered that God rained manna from heaven to provide for the needs of the Israelites? Instead, Philip is worried about the large sum of money needed to buy enough bread, and Andrew sees only the insufficiency of their supplies. How often does the church worry about the shortage of resources in order to respond to the needs of our community? This story invites us to believe that God provides enough for the work God calls us to do.
Respond: Pick a mission and outreach ministry at your church or an organization in your community. Learn the history of how it was founded. Then consider how you can be a part of supporting the ministry or organization. Will you commit to providing financial support? Will you volunteer time? Will you do a food drive or fundraise? How will you be a partner in their work? When you do this work, you will see how you are enough to do God’s work and you will also be a partner in God’s promise that there is enough to do God’s work.
- Dorian Del Priore
Adult and Adults
Read: John 6:1-21
Reflect: Most people don’t have an accurate view of themselves. It’s hard to take an unbiased look at yourself. Many people will overrate themselves in one area while underrating themselves in another. When it comes to the impact we can have in this world, far too often, we underrate what we can do. Too many of us do so to the point of doing nothing at all. But Jesus shows us in this passage that he can do something great with even the smallest of things. From five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus was able to feed five thousand. If Jesus can do that from a seemingly insignificant amount of food, imagine what he can do with you, someone made in the image of God. You don’t need the biggest platform or the perfect setting, you simply need to be willing. What would it look like for God to use you today; right where you are, with what you have?
Respond: Because we have been blessed by God, we are able to be a blessing to others. As you go this week, find different ways to bless people. The challenge is to do it with what seems like nothing to you. This could be with a spare five minutes or the pocket change you keep around. Look for ways to provide big blessings through the small things in your life.
- CJ Quartlbaum