God Does Not Work Alone

VBS is THIS WEEK!  We have all been a little nutso getting ready for it, but I think we’re all set!  I cannot wait to share photos and videos from the week.  We had a blast decorating and I cannot wait to sing and dance with the kids!

Here is this morning’s sermon.  Enjoy!


Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
August 3, 2014

Matthew 14:13-21

God Does Not Work Alone

We are “gearing up” (pun intended) for Vacation Bible School at RCC right now and in addition to learning the hand motions to songs that will most likely be stuck in my head for the next month, I spent a good part of last week googling fun and easy ways to decorate for the occasion. I have been elbow deep in glue and construction paper, my pinterest board keeps growing and at any given time, you can find me in a closet or storage room throughout the church searching for creative (and free) ways to bring this year’s curriculum to life.

This year’s theme for VBS is God’s Workshop of Wonders. All week the kids will learn about all of the wonderful things that God can do in God’s workshop. And more than that the kids will explore the different ways that they can work in God’s workshop, as well.

Our children will not only learn about the ways that God creates, but they will also learn that they can create as well. They will not only see the things that God can build and shape and move, but they will also see the things that they can build and shape and move as well. They will not only bear witness to the miracles that God performs, but they will also bear witness to the miracles that they can perform as well.

Here is the thing about how God works in this world: God does not work alone. God works through people; individual people like you and me.

This morning’s scripture – the feeding of the five thousand, the miracle of the loaves and fishes – is proof of this fact.

It is easy to look at this story and assume that all it takes to be a Christian is to believe in Jesus and in the miracles that he performed. And while that is true, I think that there is more to it than that. I think that there is an active call of discipleship that we often miss.

Let’s look more closely at the miracle that happened on that hillside in Galilee so long ago. Who fed the crowds that evening? Most would say that Jesus did, wouldn’t they?

Not exactly.

Then [Jesus] ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.

Okay, the crowds are hungry, ready and waiting.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish, [Jesus] looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke the loaves …

BAM! Miracle! The disciples could not have done that! Truth be told, if someone put five loaves and two fish in front of me, I couldn’t do that, either! I would probably grill the fish, warm up the bread in the oven and eat most of it slathered in butter with a side of greens.

Don’t judge me, you know you would do the same thing.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish [Jesus] looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.

Okay, this is what we need to pay close attention to. Who, exactly, fed the hungry crowds?

The disciples did.

Jesus did not feed the hungry crowds. He handed the bread and the fish to the disciples and he told the disciples to feed the hungry crowds. Jesus said to the disciples:

[The crowds] need not go away; you give them something to eat.

The disciples fed the hungry crowds that night. This is one of the most important lessons that we need to take from this story. This story is one of the treasured miracle stories in the Gospel. But the miracle did not end when the loaves and fish were multiplied. The miracle kept going when Jesus enabled ordinary people to continue his ministry in their community.

And we – we as Jesus’ disciples, we too as ordinary people – are called to do the same.

We are called to lead an active faith. We are called to lead a faith that is defined by verbs and not by nouns.

For Jesus, this story – this miracle – is one that is full of action. Jesus said; Jesus ordered; Jesus looked; Jesus blessed; Jesus broke; and Jesus gave. These are actions, not simply beliefs.

This is the type of faith that Jesus calls us to live out. Jesus trusted the disciples to carry out his miracle, and we – we, as the Body of Christ – are called to carry out Jesus’ miracles on earth as well.

God does not work alone. God works through us. To proclaim that we are Christian is to boldly wear a badge of action, showing the world that our faith is expressed through concrete acts of love, compassion, outreach and help.

Look, I am not saying that Jesus had nothing to do with this. Jesus clearly had something to do with this; Jesus took five loaves of bread and two fish and multiplied them to feed five thousand people, proving yet again that through God, nothing is impossible! But that does not reduce our role in all of this.

Jesus did perform a miracle in Galilee that day. But then he needed help.

The miracle of the loaves and fishes would have been void if no one had been there to bring the food out into the crowd. Jesus needed his disciples to carry that miracle out into the community.

God works in incredible ways on this earth. If you truly pay attention, there is tangible evidence all around of God’s work here on earth.

But God does not work alone. God needs us – all of us – to be the hands and feet of Christ, to bring his ministry into the community and into the world.

We need to live out God’s miracles on earth. We need to be active in our faith. We need to do all of the things that Jesus showed us how to do in the Gospels: We need to feed the hungry, heal the sick and reach out to the marginalized. But even more than that we need to do the things that God is calling us to do today, in this community. We need to serve on the boards and committees of this church. We need to offer our gifts to this church when we see a need that we can fulfill. We need to take ownership of this church – our church. We need to engage and be involved in this community in order for it to thrive. We need to take part in missions activities. We need to volunteer with our youth and our children (did I mention that Peg could still use some help at VBS this week?). We need to meet real needs in real and tangible ways.

We have to do more than simply believe that God will perform miracles. We have to believe that we can be a part of those miracles as well.

Otherwise the work that God is doing will never get out into the world.

As I was decorating this week, I was googling various work and construction zone signs and I came across a sign that said the following:

Pray like it all depends on God, but work like it all depends on you.

God’s work depends on us. Jesus may be our savior, but we are Jesus’ disciples. And in order for Jesus to truly offer salvation in this world, we need to take seriously the call to action.

The crowds are sitting on the grass; they are hungry, ready and waiting. How will they be fed?

Or perhaps the better question to ask is – how will we feed them?

And when we find the answer to this question, we will not only fulfill God’s call for us, but the crowds will eat and they will be filled.

And we will be as well.

Thanks be to God!

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