One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a girl about your age picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the girl, he asked, “What are you doing?” She replied, “I’m throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.” The man said, “There are hundreds of starfish on the miles of beach ahead, you can’t make a difference.”
After listening politely, the girl bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…” I made a difference for that one. Now, will you join me to save one more.”
We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Let’s consider the worth of one another more highly than ourselves. The ancient scholars, the wisemen, followed the star to find Jesus. Let’s consider the starfish on our beaches, in our lives, that we can help get to a safer place.
Our message this week from Pastor Kevin builds upon the recent theme of Jesus as the Bread of Life. We will consider Paul’s advice to citizens in Ephesus about using language that lifts people up in love, and do everything we can to put our hands together to ensure that everyone experiences that love. Take a look at the photo above of two clasped hands across a wall separating the Protestant graveyard from the Roman Catholic graveyard in Holland. In 1880, Colonel van Gorkum died in Roermond, Holland, and was buried in the Protestant cemetery because even though his wife Lady van Aefferden was Catholic, neither could be buried together. A few years later she died, but instead of being buried in her family plot, she chose a secluded spot at the wall that separated the Protestants from the Catholics and commissioned some clasped hands to connect with her husband’s tombstone to her’s symbolizing their love and togetherness. Language matters and how we think and how we speak to each other has profound consequences. Let’s speak to each other with love and in dignity and respect. With communion between Protestants and Roman Catholics remaining “closed,” this photo is a powerful symbol both of how far we’ve come and how far we have to go to put our hands together.
Our cemetery and our worship have always been and remain open to people of any faith, or no faith at all, because we believe God’s spiritual energy is accessible through Christ to everyone. Get more out of your life, and gain resources to help you put more into your life!
Let’s let love lift us with friendly smiles, special music, conversation, prayer, and a message of Gospel hope. All this and so much more this Sunday, August 12.
“The earth is degenerating. Bribery and corrupt speech and deeds abound. The end of the world is fast approaching.”
-Assyrian tablet, c. 2800 BC via @Pzizz
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
Contempt cannot drive out contempt. Only empathy can do that.
We don’t have an anger problem in our communities, according to clinical psychologist John Gottman and thinker Arthur Brooks, we have a contempt problem. And we can fix it! We can put our hands and hearts together!
Prelude: “Come, Now is the Time to Worship” arr. by Peggy Bettcher
Anthem “10,00 Reasons” arr. by Arnold Sherman
Postlude “When the Saints Go Marching In” arr. by Lloyd Larson
The Limestone Praise Chimes, under the direction of Linda Wardell, is in its eighth year at Limestone Presbyterian Church. They enjoy learning the wide variety of handbell music, from hymn arrangements to contemporary Christian music arrangements to original compositions. They play at the traditional and contemporary services monthly. Their annual summer retreat in Cape May always culminates in playing here. We are delighted to welcome them back this Summer!
The Gospel lesson (John 6:24-35) continues the image of Jesus as the bread of life. This is particularly fitting for communion Sunday when we gather at the table.
Sometimes our vision is obscured. In the Gospel story, Jesus has compassion on the people because they keep looking for physical bread (what they can see), and he says “I have so much more to give!” They just don’t see it. What do you ask Jesus for? Is your vision and faith prompting you to ask for something beyond yourself? How can God use you to bless others. Feed the hungry. Quench the thirst. And remember God wants to do way beyond our wildest imaginations!
Here is an eye chart. Read the row. Nice. You see pretty good. Try these goggles on! New swim goggles. Tell me what you see. Oh, not so much? Why is that? There is something on the lens obscuring your vision. Sorry. Take this lens cleaner and let’s clean them up. Now you can see clearly. You know, God is doing all sorts of great things all around us. But some of the things God does can’t be easily seen. Love. Forgiveness. Hope. Peace. Our vision is clouded, our eyes of faith are obscured. What we need is a spiritual lens cleaning cloth. Here’s a lens cleaning cloth for your glasses. The spiritual cloth is made from hope and faith. Remember to begin your day with clear vision so we see God’s love in action right in fron to you.
“On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says’ (John 7:38).
Rivers of water are powerful. We know this power living at the shore. While it looks like the sandy beaches constrains the water, it is the power of the water that moves and shapes the beach. Jesus said that rivers of living water of the Spirit would flow from those who follow him, quenching every thirst. Our church was named for the cold spring nearby, a place of refreshment for all who pass by. But sometimes the rivers of life are hard to get to safely so we build bridges that make connections for us so that the river does not overwhelm, but remains accessible on our journey.
Take a look at the photo (above) of the Choluteca Bridge in Honduras. It was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1930. It survived many storms providing safe connections from one side of the river to another, and easy access to the river bed below. Until Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Hurricane Mitch was a Category 5 storm that decimated Central America with more than 22,000 human lives lost and millions left without adequate shelter. Many lesser bridges were destroyed.
As you can see from the photo taken after the storm (above), the Choluteca Bridge survived unscathed. (Yes, that is the same bridge! It’s the river that moved!)
Where did the river go? The hurricane couldn’t move the bridge, but the hurricane picked-up and moved the river making the bridge a bridge to nowhere.
Sometimes we can recognize that our former “bridges” and “community connections” remain intact, but they are no longer anywhere near today’s community or its concerns. Since Jesus is the Living Water, the water of life, our mission as the bridge is to connect people in our communities to that Living Water. For the bridge to fulfill its purpose it must be in the river and connecting others to the river of life, too.
Cold Spring Presbyterian Church has withstood the seasons and storms of life for hundreds of years. We’re still standing! We were build on a solid foundation. Our structures are strong. We just may not always notice that the water has moved. Our neighbors may not even know they are thirsty, but the accessibility to the Living Water is out of reach… unless we extend our bridge in every direction to reach people who need to see God’s love in action. We have the Living Water. We don’t want to be a beautiful bridge to nowhere. Instead, we have begin a transformation journey to let the Living Water flow and connect to our community’s rivers in Lower Township and Cape May that are flowing, moving, dynamically changing. Let’s work together to address the moving river:
(We’re the bridge!) Be Willing to Relocate the Bridge: When its really difficult to make new connections, what do you do? Stay rigidly in place, or adapt and grow until new connections are made.
Spirit Bridges Are Flexible: We have many wonderful structures, our bridges, that need to be flexible to stay connected to the Living Water and the rivers of life all around us.
Everyone is a Bridge-Builder, a People-Connector: Each of us has a gift, an interest, an experience, talent, or skill that can help relocate and reconnect our bridge to our community.
Oddly, the word “bridge” does not appear in the Bible, but remember that Jesus is the ultimate Bridge-Builder, “as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10).
The Apostle Paul again wrote, “Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
The Choluteca Bridge was a marvel of engineering but lacked the capacity to keep up with the river waters. Let’s be sure our bridges are making contact with people where they are by getting in the water, the flow of the Spirit, so even more can drink and quench their thirst.
Our message this week from Mark 6 and John 6 tells the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes. They were so impressed with his powers to fill their tummies, they wanted to make Jesus King! But Jesus wants to feed our spirits so we can be sent as messengers of the Mess-iah. We will learn that Jesus takes our messes and turns us into messengers of hope and healing.
God’s spiritual energy is accessible to everyone at Cold Spring Presbyterian Church. Get more out of your life, and gain resources to help you put more into your life!
If you were King of the Universe, how would you feed the world? Italian bread? French bread? How about a cinnamon raisin bagel? Or Pita? Well, if you were King, maybe King’s Hawaiian? Jesus meets our needs, and wants us to help meet the needs of other’s too.