The Power to Bless:
Part 4 - Miracle Sunday
June 14, 2009
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Friends, it is Miracle Sunday. It is a great day. I hope you can feel the energy and enthusiasm in the air that I do. It is a very, very special time, and we are doing something amazing together. We are being open to the miraculous power of God and moving forward bravely, even in a tough time, to say, “The church of Jesus Christ counts. My faith counts. Together we can do something good for the world.” And that’s what Miracle Sunday is about.
We’re basing our thoughts on this: You have the power to bless. You have the power to make a positive difference in the world. And if God is calling you to do that, whether here in church or somewhere else, friends, don’t say no. Don’t say no, because you have the power to make a positive difference. You know what? We can’t do everything. Each of us can’t do everything. But by the power of God, we can do something. Amen? Amen!
Is it not true that the light of one candle can dispel a lot of darkness? Never lose faith in the power of your individual light. You have the power to bring light where there is darkness. You have the power to make a positive difference, in your actions, in your gifts like this one this morning, in your prayers, in your positive thoughts, in your words. Talk about words! I cannot tell you how often this pastor’s heart has been blessed and uplifted by your words. Maybe you didn’t know when you said that nice thing to me where I was at, but I tell you, time after time after time, your blessings and your words and your smiles and your handshakes have helped this pastor enormously.
You have the power to bless; you have the power to make an enormous difference in the world. Let’s think about that today. Let’s begin with our wonderful scripture reading. You’ve heard it in a couple of forms today, but I want you to hear it in another way. Rather than hearing this story as a drama with four characters in it and a crowd, I invite you to do something different. I invite you to see each of the people in this story as a facet of your own personality.
There are four people in our gospel story today. There is Philip, who is never quite filled up. He’s the worrier; he’s the doubter; he’s the one who crunches the numbers and trembles. Instead of vilifying him, think – don’t we all have that in us? You and I are all worried about things, aren’t we? There is a Philip within us that casts a wary eye on numbers and doubts.
There is Andrew, who is on the borderline of faith. He has fragile faith. He took a chance on the Lord. And then there is the little boy in the story. That little boy is the picture of pure faith, the face of pure, innocent faith. And don’t we all have that part in us, too?
And then there is the Lord Jesus, the miracle worker, the Son of the Everlasting Father, who brings it all together and does amazing things for us.
Well, you know the story. The crowd was hungry. The time was dark. The gospel tells us it was a desolate, dreary place. The people were hungry, and the disciples said, “Jesus, send them home. Send them home! They’re hungry; they’re tired.”
And Jesus said to Philip, “We’ve got to feed them. Where shall we get food to feed all these folks?”
Did you notice how Philip answered Jesus? He didn’t say, “Well, there’s a deli over here and a store over there.” He said, “Lord, what do you mean? It would cost a fortune to feed all these people.” You see, Philip is the worrier. We all have a worrier inside of us.
But then there’s a little boy with faith in his heart and a lunch bag in his hand. He sees the dilemma and overhears the conversation. He goes up to a friend of Jesus’s named Andrew, and he says, “Sir, you’re a friend of Jesus. I know there’s a problem. I don’t have much, but I’ll give you all I can. Here’s my lunch. Here’s all I brought.”
And Andrew has a dilemma. He looks out at 10 or 12,000 people and one bag lunch. Should he even embarrass himself by taking it to Jesus? But there’s something absolutely compelling about the little boy’s faith. There is something stirring about the little boy’s faith, and Andrew, though he may feel torn, is going to do it. That’s fragile faith, the faith that’s willing to take a little risk. At the risk of being embarrassed at the size of the gift, he goes to Jesus and says, “There is a boy here who has offered us his lunch bag. But what is this among so many?”
And with loving hands, Jesus takes the bag of five loaves and two fish. He looks at it, and I believe He looked at that boy and smiled at him, and while smiling at that boy He said to His friends, “Make the people sit down.”
And His friends said, “Whoa. Oh my. Something is going to happen.”
The people sat down, and Jesus took the bread and blessed it. “Blessed be thou O God, King of the universe, who bringest forth the grain from the earth.” He broke the bread and put it into a basket. He broke it again, and put it into a basket. He broke it and broke it and broke it, and the baskets were being filled. He did the same with the fish, and then He asked His disciples to feed all the folk. They were fed, and they were satisfied, and there was food left over. And they realized that this was the great Son of God.
It’s like that today, my friends. We’ve got Philip inside of us. Yes, of course. You do; I do. We’ve got Andrew inside of us that says ‘maybe.’ And we’ve got the little boy inside of us who says, ‘I know Jesus is able.’ And we’ve got Jesus within us, who is able. And so, please know that you have the power to bless, that your gift, large or small, is going to make a powerful difference.
I need to ask you this question: What if? What if this basket that is here to receive our Miracle Sunday gift has not one dollar in it? What if? What if not one dollar is brought forward? Would it still be Miracle Sunday?
Yes! It still would be Miracle Sunday, because miracles have already happened within this church because of the Miracle Sunday program. Remarkable things have happened. People have connected with one another in remarkable new ways. We had a telethon the other night to reach out to some folks who we thought hadn’t heard about the program. Remarkable connections were made. I’m remembering the connection with one woman who wasn’t able to be at church because she had to take a second job on Sunday mornings. She said, “I’m so glad to hear from you. This is wonderful. I love the church so much. I miss it so much. I follow it every week over Visions of Hope and I read the sermons, but I so long to be there. You don’t know how much this means to me.”
Would it have happened without Miracle Sunday? Would all these people have been touched? Miracles have already happened.
We had a time of prayer here in the sanctuary the other night. Please let me read you this poem that I wrote about that.
The sanctuary was candlelit
And gentle music played in the background.
Devotions were held at the beginning and ending of each hour.
Some sat. Some stood. Others knelt.
People prayed and sang and laughed and cried and listened in the spirit.
Marjorie and I went to each room, each hallway and area in and around the church
And said prayers of blessings throughout.
Those who prayed also blessed
Each section of this sanctuary,
Praying for the people who with fill them this Sunday
And each Sunday.
People cared and prayed and watched through the night,
Were anointed with oil on the forehead or the hand,
And experienced the peace and stillness of unhurried prayer.
We watched the tapestry of blue-gray clouds reflect the setting sun,
Felt the velvet darkness of night blanket the candlelit sanctuary,
Heard the rain pouring on the roof,
And saw the dazzling brilliance of the rising sun
Announce the arrival of the new day.
Thank you, everyone, for encouraging this remarkable experience.
God is blessing us every day.
Would it still be Miracle Sunday if not a dollar was placed in that basket? Yes, it would. And the blessings that this program is engendering will continue to bloom and blossom. And that’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. And the sun will rise tomorrow, and with God’s grace we all will go on, if not a dollar goes into that basket.
But – what if? What if someone decides to put something into that basket? What if some people have already decided to put something into that basket and already have? What if people decide to listen to the little child within, the child of pure faith, and make an offering? What then?
Well, then, my friends, the miracle will get even bigger:
v We will be able to close the gap and help our church go on in a worry-free way.
v We will be able to take down the walls and open up fellowship space, so that people can be touched by the ministry of this church in a joyful way. (Next week, I’m going to tell you about another miracle that happened this week. I don’t have time to tell it today, but please come back next week and I’ll tell you about something that happened this past week that touches our project.)
v People will be able to pass this church on Sunset Road and say, “That’s a well kept up church. They’ve just painted it. The peeling paint is gone. It looks good.”
v We’ll be able to have dinner together in the Fellowship Hall and not look at each through a glass wall as if we were in a maternity ward. We’ll be able to be together, and that will be wonderful.
v And there will be smiles on the faces of the women from Crawford House, who couldn’t afford a doctor or dentist visit, but can now, because of our Abundant Life fund.
Those miracles are yet to come, if someone decides to make a gift to Miracle Sunday.
Today is Miracle Sunday. It is our opportunity to be the young child in the gospel who gave all he could with faith and trust. Trust that the Lord can do amazing things with what we are willing to share. Our gifts, plus God's blessing, equals amazing results.
Won't you join us in adding your help?
Whether you are moved to support all four of these pillars, or only two, or just one; whether you can support the Open Door campaign this Miracle Sunday with a gift that is large or small; or whether your support will be prayer alone, I encourage you to let your affirming voice be heard.
I know with all my heart that the Open Door program was thought out prayerfully and carefully so that it would be an instrument of God's blessing to many people. I invite you to join me and the other members of our wonderful church family in making this an effort that will do positive good in the Lord's name for people - right now, and for many, many years to come.
I believe that there are more blessings in store from this project than we can possibly foresee right now.
You have the power to make a positive difference.
We have the power to make a positive difference.
We are God's people, and this is the time. Friends - let's go for it.
God loves you, and I do, too. I wish you a blessed week. Amen.
PS: For more information about "Miracle Sunday," please visit our website at <www.MontgomeryUMC.org> and click on the "Miracle Sunday" logo. God bless you! PT
© 2009 Anthony J. Godlefski