Thursday, August 6, 2020


August 3, 2020

Evening Prayer (Vespers)

You may wish to light a candle and place it before you as you begin.



Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome.

Stay with us, Lord, for it is evening, and the day is almost over.

Let your light scatter the darkness and illumine your church.

HYMN: Blest Are They, ELW 728

YouTube link:



A reading from: Isaiah 43: 1-7 (CEB)

43 But now, says the Lord
the one who created you, Jacob,
the one who formed you, Israel:
Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
when through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you won’t be scorched
and flame won’t burn you.
I am the Lord your God,
the holy one of Israel, your savior.
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your place.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
you are honored, and I love you.
I give people in your place,
and nations in exchange for your life.
Don’t fear,
I am with you.
From the east I’ll bring your children;
from the west I’ll gather you.
I’ll say to the north, “Give them back!”
and to the south, “Don’t detain them.”
Bring my sons from far away,
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
    everyone who is called by my name
and whom I created for my glory,
whom I have formed and made.


Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.

PSALM: Psalm 17: 1-7, 15 (CEB)

 17 Listen to what’s right, Lord;
    pay attention to my cry!
Listen closely to my prayer;
    it’s spoken by lips that don’t lie!
My justice comes from you;
    let your eyes see what is right!
You have examined my heart,
    testing me at night.
You’ve looked me over closely,
    but haven’t found anything wrong.
    My mouth doesn’t sin.
But these other people’s deeds?
    I have avoided such violent ways
    by the command from your lips.
My steps are set firmly on your paths;
    my feet haven’t slipped.

I cry out to you because you answer me.
    So tilt your ears toward me now—
    listen to what I’m saying!
Manifest your faithful love in amazing ways
    because you are the one
    who saves those who take refuge in you,
    saving them from their attackers
    by your strong hand.

15 But me? I will see your face in righteousness;
    when I awake, I will be filled full by seeing your image.


Gospel:  Matthew 15: 32-39 (CEB)

A reading from:  Matthew

 32 Now Jesus called his disciples and said, “I feel sorry for the crowd because they have been with me for three days and have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry for fear they won’t have enough strength to travel.”

33 His disciples replied, “Where are we going to get enough food in this wilderness to satisfy such a big crowd?”

34 Jesus said, “How much bread do you have?”

They responded, “Seven loaves and a few fish.”

35 He told the crowd to sit on the ground. 36 He took the seven loaves of bread and the fish. After he gave thanks, he broke them into pieces and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 Everyone ate until they were full. The disciples collected seven baskets full of leftovers. 38 Four thousand men ate, plus women and children. 39 After dismissing the crowds, Jesus got into the boat and came to the region of Magadan.

Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.


Today’s texts are about compassion, God’s care for God’s children, for us. Isaiah tells us God says:

·         Do not be afraid, I am with you.

·         You are precious in my eyes.

·         I have called you by name; you are mine.

These are the words, the promises, of a God who loves us beyond measure. These are not the words of a God who punishes us for wrongdoing, but the words of someone who cares deeply about us.


The Psalm is a human response to God’s loving care.

·         I cry to you because you answer me.

·         You save those who take refuge in you.

·         When you examine me, you are just.


In the Gospel text, this is the second feeding of a multitude in Matthew. The first time, the disciples spoke first about the people being hungry. This time, Jesus speaks first.

·         I feel sorry for these people. Let’s take care of them.

·         How much bread do you have?

·         Ask the folks to sit down.

As before, everyone ate until they were full, and there were leftovers. As in the feeding of the 5,000, the number referred to just the men, but it was recognized that there were women and children present. So, there were perhaps 8-10,000 people in the crowd. And Jesus fed them all.


I have always been suspicious of such numbers. Maybe it was 40 or 400 men, not 4,000. Exaggeration happens all the time in the ancient world. It makes people and events seem larger than they really were. Truth be told, it still happens today. Have you ever asked a fisher how big the latest catch was? Still, the number of people is not quite the point.


First, the miracle is the point: In order to silence those who insist that the miracle was in everyone sharing what they had, this text makes it clear that the people were out of food. After three days, there was nothing left to share. This story makes it clear that the feeding of the multitude must be miraculous.


And second, it’s not the numbers that matter with this miraculous feeding. It’s the way Jesus felt. In the CEB Jesus says, “I feel sorry for the crowd.” The Message reads, “I hurt for these people.” The NRSV and the NIV read, “I have compassion.” However we say it, Jesus cares about what is happening to us.

As we travel through these days of Covid-19, economic collapse, and political dissonance, I find it hopeful that God cares for and about us. We are truly walking through deep waters, and it’s encouraging to know that God is with us. We are precious, loved by God.

 While COVID has made many of us ill, and killed some of us, God is here, weeping with us, offering virtual hugs. And God is providing an abundance of wisdom through the doctors and scientists who are working on cures and vaccines.


Let’s all be encouraged – filled with courage – as we make our way through these days with each other and with God. Amen




Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets,         

but in these last days, God has spoken to us by the Son.



For the peace from above, and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For the health of creation, for abundant harvests that all may share, for plentiful water, and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For essential workers, public servants, the government, and those who protect us; for those who work to bring peace, justice, healing, and protection in this and every place, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For those who travel, for those who are sick and suffering, for those who are in captivity, and for those who are living in isolation, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For deliverance in the time of affliction, wrath, danger and need, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

Other prayer petitions may be offered here.

O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go forth with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only trusting that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory, are yours now and forever. Amen.

HYMN:  Great Is Thy Faithfulness, ELW 733

YouTube link:


Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, + keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen


Liturgy from ELW Annual Liturgy License 26504


Monday, August 3, 2020

Give them what they need

Genesis 32:22-31; Mathew 14:13-21                                     

Jesus spent three years touring, mostly in the Galilee, but also in the lands between Galilee and Jerusalem, and even a few times outside Jewish territory into places like Tyre and Sidon and Samaria.

Wherever he went, he gave the people he encountered what they needed. The blind were given their sight as well as the ability to understand what they were seeing. A man who was crippled was forgiven, so when he got up to walk, he knew he was really free to be in his community. A woman who was the town scandal received living water and was welcomed when she shared it with her neighbors.

In the Gospel story today, the people in the crowd have been

listening to Jesus’ stories. They have lined up to be healed, touched by him in many ways. Now, it is supper time. Too late to go home and cook, so the disciples suggest sending them into the nearby villages, where the locals can offer them some food.

But Jesus disagrees. “YOU give them something to eat. Go on, you can feed them.” The disciples look at Jesus like he’s crazy. “How can we feed them with this little bit of food, just some fish and some bread? That will only feed one of us, and you know it.”

Again, Jesus disagrees. “Give me what you have,” he says. He blesses this meager meal and sends the disciples out to feed the crowd. Somehow there is enough for everyone. And, in the end, there even are leftovers!

Who got what they needed? The hungry folks, of course, had more to eat than they usually got. It was a meal to remember!

And the disciples got a lesson in what Jesus can do. They were thinking in finite terms, while God is a God of abundance who thinks in infinite terms.

Throughout the Bible, there are stories of God giving people just what they needed at that moment.

Abraham and Sarah needed a child. Hagar needed a new home. Isaac needed to prove himself worthy. Leah needed to know Isaac loved her.

Jacob needed to know that God had a plan for him despite his unsavory record of lying and deceit. He spent a night wrestling with God, laying open his regrets and his fears. In the end, he was blessed, and given a new name as a sign of his new life. His name, Israel, lives on. Through all these folks we have been blessed to be a blessing.

Peter had the ability to see and speak about what he saw, even though he sometimes put his foot in his mouth. Paul had the gift of making sense of Jesus to non-Jewish people. Phoebe took Paul’s letter to the Romans and interpreted it for them, a woman giving a message to the church, and respected because Paul trusted her to speak for him. They were all given what they needed at the time they needed it.

… In our world today, there have been people willing to provide what was needed at just the right time.

Annie Sullivan was able to reach Helen Keller and help her become an advocate for people with disabilities.

A Christian family gave shelter to Anne Frank and her family, giving them extra months together before the Nazis discovered them.

Rep. John Lewis, who died a couple weeks ago, shares this part of his story. For a time, he was an angry young man who had no patience or respect for white people. Then he looked around and saw there were white people on the bridge with him, white people being beaten for protesting the way people of color were being treated. It was a lesson that changed his life.

From then on, he partnered with anyone who could help him reach the goals of justice and voting rights for all people. God gave him what he needed, a passion for non-violent resistance, so he could work with others to make significant changes possible. And he never stopped encouraging people to get into some “Good Trouble.”

… When I quit fighting – wrestling with – God and agreed to go to seminary, my frequent prayer was, “I’ll go, but you have to show me how.” Over and over again, I received what I needed. The house I bought after my divorce sold for enough to pay it and the car off. While at seminary, I was offered a job that fit my skills and available time. Checks came in the mail when I didn’t have enough money to pay the electric bill. And so forth.

Hungry people come to our church for a small bag of food because we want to give them what they need.

Kathleen recently made over 800 face masks, giving people what they need to stay safe in a COVID-19 world.

I am sure there have been times in your lives when God gave you just what you needed, at just the right time.

The appropriate response is one of gratitude. Jacob recognized he had been in God’s presence, and his life was changed. The people in the crowd were satisfied. I’m sure they said “Thank you” although it isn’t recorded in scripture. 

Let’s intentionally look for places in our lives where Jesus has provided just what we needed. And give thanks. Amen