Sermon July 18, 2021 – “Picking Up the Pieces”

We were unable to offer a video of this week’s worship.  Here is the text of this week’s sermon:

Picking Up the Pieces – (Jesus Feeds the 5000)

Sometimes things fall apart.

— you go through a bad breakup, or a marriage ends.
— you go through a natural disaster
— you get sick
— you lose your job

If you are fortunate you will endure only a few moments of things falling apart in your life.  I don’t know anyone who has never endured things falling apart.

People listening to Jesus lived on the edge of things falling apart every day.

Many had no secure source of income:  day laborers and people who only had seasonal work.

There was no Social Security, Medicare, no health insurance.  The people following Jesus had good reasons to do so — they had seen the signs he was doing for the sick.

Sometimes the Roman government handed out bread.

Jesus did one better than the Romans:  bread and fish, for 5000 people.

I am struck by the commandment to gather up the pieces, so none may be lost.

Jesus feeds us.  Jesus helps us pick up the pieces.  Jesus instructs us to pick up the pieces, both for ourselves and for others.

We deal every day with bits and pieces.  We deal with the life-changing times when things fall apart, like the natural disaster or the major illness.  We also deal with the medium size things and the little things:  things that leave a trail of crumbs.

— You’re taking a test in school.  The test is not going well.  you look the clock and see there are just ten minutes left.  You scramble to finish, but you kind of end up leaving the last part of the test in pieces.

— You’re planning a trip to a family wedding, or for a weekend away.  Suddenly you feel chest pain, or sharp pain in your abdomen.  One thing leads to another and you are in the emergency room.  Your plans are in pieces.

When life is in pieces, you are not lost.  Jesus is a Savior who pays attention to the details.

Jesus performs miracles — 5000 people fed from one person’s lunch!

Also, Jesus is around after the fireworks are over.  After the decorations are put away and after the food is gathered up.  Do you ever feel let down the day after Christmas, when all the presents are opened and all the festivities are over? Christmas is the big day but Jesus is there they day after too.

One of our church elders and I chaperoned a group of middle school students for the Massanetta Middle School Conference in Virginia.  The big to-do of the conference is over.  Yet Christ is still with the middle school students, and Christ is still with us the chaperones.

Last month the 2020-2021 school year ended.  As a parent I sort of felt like the year ended up in pieces.  A lot of events that would normally happen in school:  graduation, school assembly, some of the sports, did not happen.  It was tough to pay attention during so many online classes, so drifting off was all too common.  Some students barely got online.  At the end of the year, there was one last Zoom meeting and then the school year petered out.  But we have picked up the pieces and a new school year will begin in a little over a month.

Some families have come apart during this time.  Recently three couples went out to lunch outdoors.  The conversation turned to Covid, as it often does nowadays.  All three families represented had experienced some coming apart — relatives disagreeing over face masks and vaccinations.  Relatives unsure how to talk to one another anymore.

Keep working, keep trying.  Often when people are in pieces it’s because of fear.  So we can reach out with words of reassurance.  “Yes, this is a scary time.” “I also have a lot of things I’m unsure about.” “Tell me what concerns you.”

Gather up the pieces, so none may be lost.

Jesus words are a reassurance.

Jesus words are a command.

Thanks be to God who picks up all our pieces, so none of us are lost.  Amen.

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