Blessings Cooksville Family!
Below is the link to this week’s service:
As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.
And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.
And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.
Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
July 25, 2021
Sunday Worship Service
Prelude: Let there be praise and honour for the Father of all goodness – Johann Krebs
Opening Video: Miracles Intro
Welcome & Greeting:
Lighting the Christ Candle
Song: “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”
Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:
The Lords Prayer
John 6:1-21 New International Version (NIV)
6:1 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near. 5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. 14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. 16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
Solo: He Is There
Music by Ralph Cruickshank Arr. by Eric Wild
Sung by Simone McParland
Walking on Water
I find it funny that sceptics of the bible often say that one of the things that convinces them that the stories – can’t – be true – is that miracles just don’t happen. Moses initiating the seven plagues on Egypt – a burning bush that speaks – parting the Red Sea – the sun standing still for a day – those things just couldn’t have happened – they’ll say – and that’s just a few miracles from the – OLD Testament.
But just stop and think about it for a minute – the word – miracle – and the experience of the miraculous – is in no way confined to the bible – or even just to Biblical times.
The word – miracle – and the experience of the miraculous – is very much part of our modern world and our everyday lives. In spite of all the technological advances – and scientific sophistication – that is part of our modern lives – the word – miracle – is still very much part of our contemporary vocabulary – and the experience of the miraculous – seems to occur almost daily.
Think about it – You open the refrigerator door and you pull out a jar of Miracle Whip – a mayonnaise that spreads so nicely across your bread – and seems to stay fresh forever. Or you unwrap a small – flat bag and put it into something called the microwave – and voila – it puffs up and you have the perfect bag of popcorn – and you say – What a miracle!
In the garden – you pour Miracle Grow onto your plants – and they flourish so splendidly – it has to be a Miracle.
It wasn’t that many years ago that penicillin was discovered – and everyone called it a miracle drug. Soon after that – it was a vaccine to cure polio – and all of our parents said it was a miracle – the children don’t have to fear polio any more. And then – the smallpox vaccine was given to children throughout the whole earth – and there is not one case of smallpox anywhere on the globe and everybody says that it’s a miracle.
And now – there are vaccines against the deadliest threat we’ve faced in our generation – and I call it a miracle. And when a vaccination – or the equivalent – is discovered for cancer – the headlines will shout for joy – Miracle drug found for cancer!
How many times have you seen a report about a car accident – and the body of the car is totally destroyed – and you read about the person who was rescued from the wreck and proclaim – It’s a miracle that anyone came out of that car alive.
My dad lay dying on an operating table – in desperation – they were hooking him up to a heart bypass machine. He’d been in a coma for months – and we had been praying for a Heart transplant – but it looked like the end.
Just as the team was thinking of turning off the machines – we got news that a heart had become available. A team flew across the country and back with the heart in an igloo cooler packed with ice – and his new heart started beating.
People in the hospital said he was the sickest person they had ever known who had lived. Everyone – even the headlines in the newspaper – proclaimed it was a miracle. And my dad became known – at least in some circles – as the miracle man.
The word – miracle – and the experience of the miraculous – didn’t stop when the writing of the bible stopped – miracles are interwoven throughout our modern lives.
What is a miracle? Miracles aren’t just some type of Biblical magic which confound the mind – such as the body levitating or floating in air – or the magic of a shorter leg miraculously stretching out three or four inches – raising the dead.
The focus of miracles isn’t on some magical voodoo or natural laws that have been violated. Rather – a God given miracle – is a series of events – and the timing of events in such a way – that convince us that God has intervened in our lives. The result of such miraculous intervention is the experience of awe and adoration. We go – wow! – and then we worship God in thanksgiving for the miracle.
For example – one man is scheduled to have heart bypass surgery because of a blockage in his arteries – after proper consultation and planning – he receives a double bypass – and rightfully – he is grateful to God and the doctors.
But another man – goes into the hospital for a simple testing procedure – just as they get started – he begins to have a heart attack on the table. Fear takes over – he feels sharp pain in his heart like he has never felt before – and he overhears the doctor’s intense conversation as they go to work to calm his heart down.
He thinks life is over. A surgeon is immediately found – and an emergency bypass is done. and when he wakes up several hours later – in a strange room – connected to monitors and pumps – and he starts to comprehend what has happened – that man – and likely those around him – will say – That was a miracle. That he is alive is a miracle. He was a walking time bomb – and to have a heart attack on the operating table – the timing couldn’t have been better.
It was the sequence of events – and the timing of events – in the hospital for simple tests – a heart attack on the table – a surgeon immediately available – and now we have someone who is convinced that God intervened in his life. How could someone’s response be anything other than awe and adoration, wow and worship to God.
I want to suggest that we all try to adjust our definition of the miraculous. Change what we think of as a miracle from something like – magic happened – or natural laws were violated – into something broader – more like – the sequence of events – and timing of events has convinced us that – God – has intervened and saved us or helped us. And they are not uncommon or rare events – miracles are very much part of our lives.
Our reading for today is really two stories – but the common thread that links them together is that they are both considered miracle stories. For today – I’m going to focus on the second story – Jesus walking on water.
Lets set the setting. It was religious time in Israel – Passover – that meant a holiday from school – a holiday from work – packing up the donkey and heading to Jerusalem for a religious trip.
It was also tragedy time in Israel – John the Baptist – one of their great prophets and moral visionary – had been assassinated by King Herod – as a nation – they were grieving – and so was Jesus.
And it was popularity time for Jesus – His miracles and teachings had created notoriety – and large crowds were following him like masses of young people following a pop star.
In recent days – we’ve seen Jesus do several miracles in a row. Jesus stilled the storm on Lake Galilee – Jesus then raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead – Jesus cured the sick – He cast out demons – and He just fed five thousand men plus women and children with five loaves of bread and two fish.
The miracle of the walking on the water occurs immediately after all these other miracle stories in the timeline of the Gospels. John isn’t the only one to record this miracle – you might be more familiar with the version that includes Peter stepping out of the boat and joining Jesus. For the sake of this discussion – I’m going to treat them all as one story.
After feeding the five thousand – Jesus sent the crowds home and the disciples out in a boat in Lake Galilee – a large lake – eight miles wide by thirteen miles long. Jesus himself went up into the hills to pray. Meanwhile – the wind on the lake really picked up – and the disciples were having a lot of trouble rowing into that headwind.
The disciples were frustrated by the wind. And then – seemingly out of nowhere – Jesus appeared to the disciples – walking on the water. The Bible says that the disciples were frightened – terrified – crying out – utterly astounded by what they saw – as if they were seeing a ghost.
Their reaction wasn’t – great – here comes Jesus – just like we expected – walking on the water. He must be God. No – they were frightened – shocked – and terrified by what they saw.
And so are you and I – at least when we are in one of those particular moments in life when we experience something that convinces us that there is a God – a God that is real – a God that is truly God – and sees every movement of our lives.
There are times when we finally – and really believe – in the existence of a personal God – and can become frightened about the possibility that He sees us for who we truly are.
When faced with the reality that God has seen everything we have done and thought – our reaction is to be frightened – saying to ourselves – O my God – I’m in big trouble now.
And Jesus – seeing their fears – said to them – Do not be afraid – it is I. And today – God seeing our fears and insecurities – says to us – Don’t be afraid of me. Do not be afraid.
And when Jesus got into the boat with them – the wind died down – and the disciples were in awe – in fearful reverence of Jesus – and they worshipped him as the Son of God – they praised him in thanksgiving for saving them.
Not being able to explain what happened – or how it happened – those disciples believed that they had experienced a miracle – the sequence of events – and the timing of events convinced them that God – that Christ – had intervened and saved their lives.
And what was their reaction? The experience of awe and holiness. And then of worship and thanksgiving. They concluded – truly – Jesus is the Son of God.
When we experience a miracle in the Bible or in real life – we often want to explain what is unexplainable. And so – we rationalize and intellectualize – trying to figure out what happened. For example – we try to explain the walking on the water.
Maybe you’ve heard this joke – it’s not new. A rabbi – a priest – and a united church minister – were fishing in a boat together – not too far from shore. The rabbi used up all his bait – noticed a bait store a short way away – got out of the boat – walked on the water to the bait shop – bought some bait – and returned the same way
Then – the priest ran out of bait – walked on water over to the bait shop and back again and started fishing. Then – the united church minister ran out of bait. Now – he had a look of doubt on his face – but stepped out of the boat – and sank like a stone.
The rabbi looked at him – and said – laughing – Hey – don’t you know where the sand bar is?
It’s just a joke – and not a very good one – but it’s also an attempt to explain how Jesus walked on water. Maybe He walked on a reef. Maybe Jesus knew where the reef was – but Peter didn’t – that’s why Peter sank.
Some scholars will suggest that the Greek language implied that Jesus walked – beside the water – and because of the conditions and the angles – the disciples only thought he was walking on water. These are attempts to rationalize – to explain – to think like a Greek – and ask – how did this happen.
But what I am suggesting – is that something happened that night that we – and they – don’t quite understand – in the sequence of events – and in the timing of those events – they experienced the miraculous saving power of God in their lives.
That’s the miracle – the experience of God’s intervening and saving presence in their lives. It’s not the magic – it’s not the proving how it happened. That’s the wrong focus.
The disciples were in a boat – unable to move in the middle of the lake – they were in trouble – scared – and then Jesus came to them – walking on the water – and saved them. They were awestruck by what they experienced – encountering the holiness of God – and they worshipped Christ as the Son of God in appreciation for what he had done for them. They couldn’t explain it – they didn’t even try to explain it – they just accepted it as a miracle demonstrating the saving power of God.
When my dad finally came out of his coma – this was still a few weeks after the transplant – and he was able to communicate with us again – he asked what happened.
I could have explained how his initial heart surgery had gone wrong – all the heroic efforts that people had gone through to keep him alive.
I could have told him about what was almost his last day – his heart finally giving up and being put on bypass.
I could have explained that a heart was found in BC and the amazing efforts of the doctors who arranged a plane to fly out and bring it back. I could have talked about and detailed every bit of science – skill – and technology involved in the seven-hour transplant operation.
But I didn’t – what I said to my dad – and what I knew to be – was this. Dad – God gave us a miracle.
My dad lived another 30 years after that operation – and one of the ways that he gave back was by talking on behalf of the transplant donor program. Although dad always talked about the importance of being a donor – and of the dedicated people and all the science and resources involved – he always ended with thanking God for bringing the miracle of it all together.
In our story – the focus shouldn’t be on the miracle of walking on water – it should be on the saving of Peter and the disciples in the midst of disaster. The miracle wasn’t the surgeries and the Transplant – the miracle is that my dad was miraculously given another 30 years. Praise God!!!
When it was all said and done – these series of miracles convinced the disciples – and the early church – that Jesus was the Son of God. They experienced several miracles in a row – the stilling of the storm – the raising of Jairus’ daughter – the healing of the lepers – the casting out of demons – the feeding of the five thousand – then the walking on water.
And finally – the disciples slowly came to the conclusion and realization – Truly – this is the Son of God – And they worshipped Christ as Lord.
And through various events in our lives – incomprehensible to us – God works on us – and in us – in such a way that we too – are stopped in our tracks – and slowly we come to the realization – Jesus – you are the Son of God – We worship you.
Hymn: “For The Crowd Of Thousands”
Hymn: “Just As I Am”
Benediction and Commissioning
Postlude: Eternal Father, Strong to Save – John Dykes, arr. Larry Shackley