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Jul 31 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

July 31, 2022

Welcome and Prayer: Jim Calhoun

The Lord be with you

Thank you Lord for all the gifts you so freely prepare and give to us. For the natural world, your creation, with all of its beauty and wonder, We thank you, Lord.

For our daily bread, our food and drink, sometimes scarce, sometimes abundant, sometimes a surprising unexpected delight, and always with you a feast, We thank you, Lord.

For all those we love, our families, our friends, our neighbors, our adversaries and enemies, and our brothers and sisters with us here, We thank you, Lord.

For all that is gracious and good and lovely in the lives of men and women, revealing the to us your presence, We thank you, Lord.

For your abiding presence in our lives, moment by moment with us, and the call, the opportunity that we may abide with you, We thank you, Lord.

For your forgiveness, your tenderness toward us, your gentle call to come close, We thank you, Lord.
For the healing, repairs, and wholeness you work into our lives, We thank you, Lord.
For the opportunity to love others as you have loved us, We thank you, Lord.
 Cause us to remember
and hold close
every gift you have given us. Let us sit with them,
name them
and let them fill us with your great love
Inspire us with gratitude
and compassion
to share with others in our lives
just as freely as you have loved us.
Help us to overcome our cynicism,
our being overwhelmed,
our forgetfulness.
Help us to overcome
our natural inclinations
to pettiness, resentments,
withholding, self-protection
and fearfulness.
Show us how the gifts you have given us can now be gifts to others. We thank you Lord, Amen

This Morning’s Talk: chuck smith, jr.

Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” And they did so, and had them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. Luke 9:12-17

Intro: I do not play hooky on Saturdaysever

My day is devoted to preparing myself and my Sunday talk
– so even if I spend a half-hour staring at the wall, it’s okay
• either my brain needs time to sort things out or my soul needs inspiration
• but yesterday I went AWOL for three hours and God let me and met me
– a few years ago, I ran into a man of God I had heard a lot about
• I was leaving a chapel where I had officiated a wedding,
◦ and Phil Aguilar was arriving at that chapel to officiate the next wedding
◦ it was a brief, chance encounter – nothing more
• but three weeks ago I felt God wanted me to make contact with him
◦ so Pastor Phil cleared some time for me, and we met yesterday
◦ we found ourselves bonded in Jesus
• our meeting did a lot for me, so it was a great day

Luke’s story opens with a great day
– Jesus took his disciples to an out-of-the-way village, Bethsaida
• but when the crowds found out he was there, they tracked him down
and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing (Lk. 9:10-11)
• I wish I had been there! That was a great day
– by late afternoon, the disciples became worried
• the people needed to head home while they still had plenty of light
◦ then Jesus threw disciples a curve, You give them them something to eat
• helpless, confused, the disciples were up against a wall
◦ but Jesus took over and saved the day

We are tracking Jesus’ prayers and teaching on prayer in Luke, but . . .

The word “prayer” does not appear in this episode
– I’m assuming Jesus’ blessing of the loaves and fish was a kind of prayer
• there is a Jewish prayer recited over the bread before meals
Barukh atah Adonai Elohehnu melekh ha-olam
ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz (Amen)

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe
who brings forth bread from the earth (Amen)
• “to bless” can mean “to praise”
◦ but can also mean to give shalom from one’s own soul
– so we can give a blessing of praise or thanks,
• but we can also release a blessing
◦ as father’s did for their sons or the priests did for the people
◦ Jesus was not going to skip the blessing
• as we observe him in this instance, what do we learn?

We learn something about his gestures: that he prayed with his body

We’re looking for verbs in this passage – the action words
he took, he looked, he spoke, he broke, and he gave
• Jesus is praying with his hands, his voice, his head and his eyes
◦ a person who sings with passion does not move just their lips
◦ they shut their eyes tight, clinch their fists, and flex every muscle
Their entire body sings
• in scripture, when people prayed passionately, they did it with the whole body
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice
(Ps. 141:2)
◦ we can pray with our bodies while driving – like conversing with passenger
◦ many have found it helpful to do a walking prayer:
Moving through stations of cross or a prayer labyrinth with Jesus
– I think the most common posture of prayer in church,
• is with that of humility – with the head down and eyes closed
◦ here is Jesus praying with his head up and his eyes open
• previously we saw that at Jesus’ baptism, the heavens opened and God spoke
◦ this time, Jesus looks up to heaven and he speaks

Do you see what Jesus is doing?
– his looking upward was a gesture of reorientation
(turn your head and eyes, and you turn your whole body)
• the disciples looked at the huge crowd and their slender rations,
◦ and hit a wall, but Jesus opened the window of heaven,
◦ from our side of the wall, and miracles flowed out
• looking up, Jesus brought to the people an awareness of God
◦ looking up, Jesus made God present to the crowd
– so his blessing is not a mechanical tradition,
• and people are not in a breadline at a soup kitchen
• this event has become an encounter with the living God

We learn something from Jesus’ glance heavenward

The disciples were worried – the people were getting hungry –
– there was no convenient source of food nearby;
• something had to be done, and it had to happen NOW
– I think it’s beautiful that Jesus did respond to the disciples quickly
• he got things moving – he had his disciples organize the crowd
◦ he took hold of the bread and fish, and he blessed them
◦ he did not skip this simple action, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them

For Jesus, this was like a family meal or a dinner with friends
– the bread had to be blessed
• and there was time enough to look up to heaven
– life in the 21st century is busy, fast-paced, and complicated
• there are many times when we realize our need for prayer,
◦ but we tell ourselves, “I don’t have time to pray right now”
◦ it can always feel this way – no time to pray
• we have time to glance at our watch, or in our rearview mirror
◦ or at the person next to us
◦ so we have time to glance at the sky, and through the sky to “our Father who is in heaven”
– the glance is enough to reorient, to wake up, to connect

For me, there is something to be learned about gazing upward

A couple years ago I came across the word attunement in an essay by Daniel Siegel
– (at first I thought he had made up the word and I didn’t like it)
• recently I read an explanation that made sense
◦ Gabor Matè describing connection of infant with mother, explains that the baby needs more than to see a mother’s smiling face
Matè, “What they needed were signals that the mother is aligned with, responsive to and participating in their mental states from moment to moment.” . . . This sharing of emotional spaces is called attunement.”
He goes on,
“Its clearest expression is the rapturous mutual gaze infant and mother direct at each other, locked in a private and special emotional realm, from which, at that moment, the rest of the world is as completely excluded as from the womb.”
• there are moments when prayer becomes attunement
– I am sure that you have been somewhere with other people
• and one of them is a special friend – then a person makes a comment or statement
◦ and instantly you and your friend look at each and share a smile
◦ you don’t have to say a thing, because you both already know
• you have a connection,
◦ so just a glance opens the flow of communication
– prayer can be a glance toward heaven, IF
• you’ve already spent time prayer-gazing at Jesus

I have been reminding you that you are an artist

I’ve also mentioned that the Psalms are a kind of spirit-poetry
– listen to this:
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth (Ps. 121:1-2)
• the poet looks to the tall, stable hills – but nor for help
• the hills are a starting point in prayer,
◦ the beginning movement of our eyes upward
◦ the hills are an inspiration, we go to One who made hills

Conclusion: Friday morning I borrowed a poem for my med.

It’s from Song of Solomon (I know my thoughts weren’t the intended meaning of the verse)
– but what is true of lovers is often true of our feelings for Jesus
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely
(Song. 2:14)
• when we were in Colossians, we read:
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:2-3)
My most valuable earthly possession is a “thing”—that’s all
If I ask, “How can I not be fixated on things in this world of things?
Paul says, “It’s easy for a dead person”
The more alive I am in Christ, the more dead I am to the world

Look up and lay up treasures in heaven,
because where our treasures are stored,
that is where our hearts will be

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