Sermon for October 2, 2016 – “Help for Days Like This”

Sermon For October 2, 2016 – “Help for Days Like This”

Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost
October 2, 2016
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Decorah, Iowa
Rev. Amy Zalk Larson

Click here to read scripture passages for the day.

Help For Days Like This

Beloved of God, grace to you and peace in the name of Jesus. Amen.

The Gospel reading today is so strange. It’s the kind of stuff you don’t want someone who’s skeptical of Christianity to hear. I mean, really: “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea’, and it would obey you”? That sounds crazy. Outrageous claims like that can make people dismiss Christianity as sheer nonsense. And then Jesus says we’re supposed to call ourselves worthless slaves? Doesn’t that just fuel the mistaken notion that Christianity is all about shame and guilt, that it just makes people feel bad about themselves?

This reading is really strange and off-putting. It’s troubling that Jesus uses images of slavery to talk about the life of faith, especially amidst all the racial tension in our country. Other places in scripture we see how the message of Jesus is a critique and a challenge to the practice of slavery, but here Jesus simply uses a common image from his time to make a point. I wish he hadn’t done that as I’m sure this text has been used by slave owners to justify slavery. I wish he had always challenged slavery as contrary to his message that the last shall be first. This text can seem outdated, irrelevant, embarrassing and so very unhelpful. Yet, underneath all this strange language there is profound good news and wisdom that is both timeless and needed now more than ever.

The apostles are feeling inadequate. They don’t feel up to the task of living as Jesus’ followers so they ask Jesus to increase their faith. Jesus has been giving them hard teachings about the dangers of loving money and of causing others to stumble. Right before our story for today. Jesus tells them that if someone sins against them, even seven times a day, they must be ready to forgive, even seven times a day. The apostles are understandably a little daunted by this so they plead with Jesus, “increase our faith.”

Their plea resonates with many of us in these trying days in which we live. As we look at all the challenges in our world and all the questions about God that they raise, as we think about what is asked of us as people of faith in all roles we have, it all can be a little daunting and can leave us feeling pretty inadequate. We are often like the apostles, thinking we need to have more faith, stronger faith, growth in our faith in order to meet the demands of our world and the demands of each day. And you’d think that Jesus would be all about this impulse, saying to the apostles and to us. yes, finally, you want to get serious and grow in your faith. Let me help you do that. Instead Jesus tells the apostles, and us, that we have all the faith we need to be part of God’s work in the world- God’s work of uprooting injustice and transforming creation. This is good news that we need today even more than ever.

These days we are barraged by marketing that tries to tell us we’re inadequate. We’re constantly told that we need to have more and be more and so, need to consume more to help us grow. This carries over to our faith life as well. if we don’t feel strong in our faith, we should buy another book, or listen to some inspirational music, or find a new church that will make us better. In contrast, Jesus tells us that we have all that we need.

Jesus asks us not to focus on our sense of inadequacy but instead to get to work. Granted he says to get to work as slaves, which is problematic, but there is some important wisdom here that we need more than ever now. In an age when we’ve become dependent on positive reinforcement and the affirmation of others, Jesus tells us not to concern ourselves with getting thanked or being recognized for our work, but to put our faith into action. Rather than waiting until our faith is bigger, deeper, greater; rather than waiting to be acknowledged for having such a strong faith; we are to put our faith to work. Rather than waiting until we have all our beliefs figured out, or until we really feel a powerful sense of faith, we are to act on our faith.

As we act on our faith, we find that we have enough. As we show up to serve at the community meal, or to lead a small group of Sunday School kids, or to help flood victims, we find that our faith is sufficient. As we seek to carry out all our various callings – at home, at our jobs, in our families – with kindness and patience, we find that our faith can help us to love and forgive. We find that we can, and do, make a major impact on the landscape around us. Often it won’t feel like we’re making a difference. Often days will go by when there will be nothing to show for our labors. Often no one will say thank you, but that is OK. We are doing our duty and as we do, we find that we have all the faith we need to live out God’s call for our lives and to be part of God’s work in the world.

This Gospel reading has strange language but timeless wisdom that we need now more than ever. However, we also may need more current language to help us grasp it. So, I offer a portion of the poem “If I Should Have a Daughter” by Spoken Word poet Sarah Kay:

There’ll be days like this, my momma said.
When you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises; when you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you want to save are the ones standing on your cape;when your boots will fill with rain, and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment.

And those are the very days you have all the more reason to say thank you. Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline,  no matter how many times it’s sent away.

We can keep on kissing the shoreline, we can keep on loving and forgiving, we can keep showing up for our part in God’s work even when no one says thank you, even when we are sent away. We have all that we need even for days like this.

Thanks be to God.

Sermon for September 25, 2016 – “No More Separations”

Sermon For September 25, 2016 “No More Separations”

Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Decorah, Iowa
Rev. Amy Zalk Larson

click here for today’s scriptures

Beloved of God, grace to you and peace in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Today we hear another of Jesus’ parables, those stories he told to shock us and get our attention. In this parable, Jesus tells about a rich man who completely ignored a poor man named Lazarus who lay at his gate.

The rich man must have noticed that Lazarus had nothing to eat and that he was covered in sores. He had to have seen the dogs licking his wounds! But he did nothing. He just passed Lazarus by again and again. The rich man’s inability to see a fellow human being caused a great chasm to come between him and Lazarus and between him and God. The rich man lived his life separated from his neighbor and separated from God who commands us to love our neighbor and care for those in need.

What happens to you when there is someone who is very visibly poor right in front of you? Do you pass by?  Do you stop and help? Do you feel paralyzed by questions about what is the right thing to do and how to best respond? Most of us here don’t pass people in great need on a regular basis. Especially in Decorah, we rarely encounter people who are visibly poor. We rarely see people who are homeless, people begging on the streets. Part of that is because, while rural poverty in the US is so real, it is often more hidden and ignored.

But it is also because there is a great chasm between those of us who are comparatively rich, by global standards, and those who are poor in our world. Our lives are vastly different from those who have to walk miles each morning simply to get clean water or from those who live on less than a dollar a day. Sometimes we even talk as if we are living in different worlds – “first world countries and third world countries”, “the developed world and the developing world.” That is problematic language because we share one earth, yet that language highlights the very real chasm between us. It can feel like we live in a different world than two-thirds of the earth’s population. Even here in the US, as income inequality grows, we live in vastly different realities than many of our fellow Americans. Since we tend to isolate ourselves with people who are like us, we often remain separated from those in great need. All of this leads to a great chasm between us and a large number of God’s people.

A similar great chasm has grown up between white people and people of color in the US. African-Americans, especially. face major long standing, generational obstacles to equality. Unjust laws, housing codes, and revenue policies, to name just a few issues, have left so many black people lying in our streets covered with the sores and wounds of racism. We who are white often can’t even hear their desperate cries because we live so separated from communities of color.

These chasms lead to torment for all of us- not just those who are poor and visibly in need. God intends for us to live in harmony together loving God and loving our neighbor. When we don’t, we all suffer. Those who are poor are most negatively impacted by the divisions in our world, but these separations impact us all.

We get trapped in deep pits, cut off from life-giving relationships with one another and with God. We see the great chasms between us but feel paralyzed about how to address them – about what to do and how to live in the face of such disparities in our world. We want to help that homeless person on the street but don’t know what will be helpful. We want to support the refugees fleeing Syria but there are so many obstacles between us and them. We want to address racism and yet the task feels overwhelming.

Our parable today gives us a vivid picture of how great the chasms between us and God and between us and our neighbors can become. It offers a stark image of the reality of our sin and brokenness. As the parable ends, things look pretty hopeless for the rich man and his brothers. They’ve ignored God’s law and the prophet; they won’t be convinced even if someone rises from the dead. Yet this one parable does not give us the whole story. There is a bigger reality at work in our world.

God doesn’t just long for us to have life-giving relationships with God and one another and leave us to our own devices. As we heard two weeks ago with the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin in chapter 15 of Luke, God goes to great lengths to find us and help us. God, in Jesus, has entered into our sin and brokenness, into death, even into hell to search for us. And God searches for us, not to tell us what to do or to try to convince us to act differently, but to set us free from the sin that binds us, to raise us up from pits of despair and into new life. God searches for us and finds us through the Word, worship, and sacraments, through others, through creation. God finds us and convicts us of the sin that keeps us separated from one another. Then God forgives us and sets us free from paralysis to do what we can. We discover we can’t overcome all the divisions in our world but we can make a difference right where we live. We can’t fix all the problems but we can show love because we are loved and forgiven.

God has fully entered into the chasms that separate us from God and now, as the book of Romans tells us, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. And that love of God is a love for each person throughout the world. So as we are drawn into the love of God, we are made part of a love that encompasses all humanity, all of creation. We are loved, we are forgiven and we are set free to be in relationship with God’s people. We are set free to see others, to love them, to do what we can to help, and to trust that God is at work in and beyond us. We have what we need.

Let’s take a few moments to pray and rest in this love that then sends us out to serve.

Amen. Thanks be to God.



Sermon for September 18, 2016 – “Where True Riches are Found”

Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost
September 18, 2016
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Decorah, Iowa
Rev. Marion Pruitt-Jefferson

First Reading: Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113; Second Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Gospel: Luke 16:1-13

“Where True Riches are Found”

Beloved in Christ

Grace and peace to you from God our creator, Jesus our brother and the Holy Spirit our comforter and Guide. Amen.

How are we to understand this story in which Jesus seems to be commending to us the behavior of a dishonest manager? Nearly all of the commentators I consulted said that this story of is probably one of the most confusing and difficult texts in the entire lectionary. Which reminded me of dear Pr. Mau, who always said that she loved preaching on a difficult text. (Which makes we wonder if this might have been one of her all-time favorites?) I can’t say that I share Pr. Mau’s enthusiasm for such challenging passages of scripture, but trusting in the Holy Spirit, I’m going to wade in and see if we can find where God is speaking to us.

The first thing we need to keep in mind is that this is a parable – a story which was meant to shock or surprise Jesus’ listeners.

Parables usually begin as stories about ordinary people doing very ordinary things… looking for a lost coin, working in a vineyard, managing a business. Their very “ordinariness” helps us relate to the characters in the story.  We all know what it’s like to search for something that is lost, to go to work to earn a wage, to manage the finances of our lives. What makes parables so powerful, is the way they surprise us with unexpected outcomes that turn the tables on what we thought we knew about the world, about God and about ourselves. After all, what sort of person would bother searching the entire house for a single penny? Who would go to work at the very end of the day and expect to be paid a full day’s wage? Who, when faced with total financial ruin, would forgive the debts owed, rather than collect them in full? Parables show us a different way of looking at the world, and seeing anew how the kingdom of God is continually breaking in to our world, our lives and our communities.

Jesus’ First Century listeners would have understood the economic relationships in this parable, but we might need a little help to interpret what was really going on. Wealthy landowners routinely employed a manager to oversee their property. The absentee landowner would give the manager full legal authority over all the operations, and incomes, from the property. In this morning’s story, it’s brought to the landowner’s attention that his manager is wasting his property. In other words, the owner suspects that the manager has been under-reporting the true profits from the business in order to put those profits into his own pocket. So naturally, the landowner demands a full audit of the books.

What’s important to realize here is that the manager worked on commission. His cost was built into every transaction so that he could earn his living by keeping a percentage of the money he collected for the landowner. Apparently, this manager had been keeping more than he was entitled to and now he’s in serious trouble. If he loses his job, he will be cast into poverty and homelessness. There were no “unemployment benefits” in those days – no social safety nets to protect the poor. The manager is going to have to do something fast if he doesn’t want to end up on the street.

At this point in the story you may be saying to yourself “Well, he’s just getting what he deserves.” And that would be a fair assessment. If you cheat you’ll get caught, and you’ll be punished. That’s the way the world works. But this is not an ordinary story – it’s a parable told by Jesus, and because Jesus made the dishonest manager THE central character is this parable, we would be wise to pay careful attention to what happens next.

With financial disaster looming, the manager decides to use the last bit of his authority to engage in some large scale acts of debt forgiveness. He grabs the accounting ledger, goes out to the debtors, and starts writing off significant portions of their debt. One man owes 800 gallons of oil – which is equivalent to several years of an average salary. The manager writes off half of what’s owed. (Think in terms of having, let’s say – 50% of your mortgage forgiven.) The next person gets a 20% reduction in the bushels of wheat which are owed, and this goes on and on until all the accounts are settled. A great deal of debt – a great deal of potential revenue – has simply been cleared off the books.

Now that is quite a surprising thing for this manager to do. After all, you’d think that if one was headed for financial ruin, one would hang on tightly to every last shekel one had. We know that this man has been embezzling the profits from the landowner. What you’d expect from such a character is that he would grab all the money he could carry and high tail it out of town – taking his ill-gotten gains and running off to make a comfortable new life for himself. Or quite possibility, he could have acted in the way that the unforgiving servant did in one of Jesus’ other parables. When that man got into financial trouble, he went to those who owed him money, physically assaulted them, and then had them thrown in prison until they paid up.

Instead this manager does something entirely unexpected. With seemingly careless abandon, he writes off huge sums of debt, and in doing so, wins for himself the love and friendship of the community. By forgiving the debt in the accounts that he managed, and by relinquishing his own share of the profits, he discovered the true riches of life in a community which is grounded in forgiveness. And that, I believe is why Jesus commends him to us. It is not because of his dishonesty in cheating his boss. It is because when faced with losing his job, his home and his place in the community, he undergoes a radical change of heart. He turns from his selfish greed and chooses the path of forgiveness.

Many years ago, my family and I were living in student housing at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Our monthly rent was about $450. I was a stay at home mom with 2 kids under the age of 3. My former husband was a full-time student. We struggled every month to make ends meet, but we were making it work. When our only car broke down – which was the vehicle I used to get to my church organist job on the south side – the cost of the repairs wiped out our savings, and left us in a financially precarious situation. We had enough money for groceries, but we were no longer able to keep up on our rent. The seminary business office was patient with us, gently reminding us each month of our accumulating debt, but never threatening to evict us. We tried as best we could to catch up, but by the time we moved out to go to our internship site, we still owed $1800. When the next bill from the seminary business office arrived, I opened it with my usual sense of anxiety and guilt. But to my great shock and surprise, what I discovered was that our bill had been zeroed out. Someone who worked in the business office had cancelled, in full, the total amount that we owed – the entire $1800. Did that bookkeeper do something a bit questionable in order to clear the books? Maybe. I don’t know. What I do know is that it was completely unexpected – and it was pure grace. We had done nothing, nothing at all, to deserve this forgiveness of debt. In that generous act of forgiving our debt, the astonishing grace of the kingdom of God had come very near to us, and all we could do was give thanks and praise.

The story of the dishonest manager will always be troubling to us if we look at it from this world’s point of view. Radical forgiveness of legitimate debt is no way to run a business or manage our accounts.  But in telling this parable, Jesus wasn’t giving us advice on how to be successful managers or how to practice accounting. There’s plenty of that kind of advice around already. What Jesus is showing us in this parable is how we are called to live together as “children of light” – as members of the body of Christ. And that way of life is first and foremost about forgiveness, the forgiveness which flows freely and abundantly from the loving heart of God into our lives, and through us, to the world.

Here in this place, we experience what it is like to live together as forgiven and beloved children of God. We greet one another in the name of Jesus and share Christ’s peace. We listen together to the living Word of God, Words with power to speak to our hearts and minds of all that God has done for us. In melodies ancient and new, we sing together our praises and thanksgiving. And we come with open hands to this most amazing feast (one hymn writer has called it “the feast of the universe”), where a bit of bread and sip of wine fill us to overflowing with the true riches of God’s love and forgiveness, freely given to us in the body and blood of Jesus. Then we are sent forth to be agents of God’s generous forgiveness and mercy, in our homes, our workplaces, and our communities – wherever our lives can touch another with the true riches of God’s mercy. Amen.


Sermon for September 11, 2016 – “Help All Along the Way”

Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost
September 11, 2016
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Decorah, Iowa
Rev. Amy Zalk Larson

click here to read scripture passages for today

“Help All Along the Way”

Beloved of God, grace to you and peace in the name of Jesus.

These stories give us such beautiful images for God:

  • God is like a shepherd who goes looking for one lost sheep and rejoices when it is found.
  • God is like a woman down on her hands and knees searching everywhere for a lost coin. When she finds the coin she throws a huge party to celebrate.
  • God goes out searching for us and rejoices when we are found.

This is great good news for us and those we love because we all get lost. We get cut off from community, we wander on paths that beat us down, we get trapped in unhelpful patterns, we end up in deep pits and dark corners. What good news to know that God is like a shepherd beating the bushes for us like a woman peering into every nook and cranny ’til we’re found.

These are beautiful images but they’re even more powerful when we zoom in a little closer. If we just glance at these stories, they can give us a fairly simplistic picture of how God searches and finds us. Looking more deeply can show us even more good news. For instance, if we just take these stories at face value, we might imagine that the whole searching and finding thing happens really quickly. In each of these stories it takes just one sentence for the object to be both lost and found. That fast-paced losing and finding could give the impression that we will only ever feel lost for a short time before God will swoop in to save us. And when God doesn’t quickly swoop in to save us, or those we love, we can get discouraged.

But finding a lost sheep in the rocky hillsides of ancient Israel would have been a long and dangerous process.

A shepherd would have to scale perilous heights and enter treacherous valleys. Searching for a small lost coin amidst a whole household with only lamplight would have been a painstaking, time consuming process – so many dark corners to scour, so much dust to clear away before the coin could be found. Searching and finding takes a long time. There will be times that it will feel like we or those we love are lost for a really, really long time. Yet all is not lost.

God has committed to searching for us no matter how long it takes. In Jesus we see that God will go to any lengths to find us and love us. God will go into the darkest places of our world and our lives and draw us into God’s loving arms. God will trudge up perilous heights, even up on a cross, and enter the most treacherous valleys, even descending to the dead. God’s search for us continues even into death. God will roll up sleeves and get down on hands and knees. God doesn’t just stay above the fray and swoop to save us quickly. There are times we might prefer to have a God who acts like a superhero, a God who waves a magic wand and fixes everything. But God has committed to be among us like a shepherd caring for sheep, like a woman searching for a lost coin.

This is good news because getting lost and being found is more complicated than these short stories might initially make it seem. These stories could give the impression that we’re either completely lost or totally safe within the fold, gone astray or clearly on the straight and narrow path. The truth is we all get lost and found over and over again. We get tangled up in our pride, we trip up on anger, we get stuck in a pit of self-pity, often many times each day. We don’t need a superhero to swoop in and rescue us; we need a shepherd who is always here to help us. It is only with the help of the shepherd that we can repent. The word repent means to turn and go in another direction. And, we need the constant help of a shepherd to turn us from paths that will leave us lost, to get us turned around and following the way of life, well-being, and true joy.

Too often these stories have been used to say, “we have to repent in order to be saved”, as if repentance is something that we can do on our own, as if God’s saving is dependent on what we do. But thinking we can do it on our own gets us lost. Thinking it all depends on us gets us lost. Besides, sheep and coins can’t do anything to repent. They need to be found by a searching shepherd, a devoted woman. We need God to search us out, over and over, to turn us, again and again, back to the path of life. And this is what God does for us. Again and again, out and about on the paths we travel each day, God is there to find us, to turn us, to lead us. And, as we gather here to receive God’s word and the meal of God’s forgiveness, we are nourished and healed for the roads ahead.

There are hard roads ahead in our post-9/11 world that is plagued with religious violence, racial tensions, a refugee crisis, climate change. Sometimes we’re tempted to get off the road and go hide. But that, too, would leave us lost. Instead, let’s follow our shepherd who leads us on paths of love, forgiveness and service to others. Let’s follow the woman holding out a lamp, shedding light, searching for a treasured object. Let’s go shed light and convey the good news that all are treasured and beloved.

And, let’s take a moment to pray.


Sermon for September 4, 2016 – “From Fear Into Abundance”

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 4, 2016
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Decorah, Iowa
Rev. Amy Zalk Larson

Click here to read the scripture passage for today: Mark 6:30-44

“From Fear Into Abundance”

Beloved of God, grace to you and peace in the name of Jesus.

Jesus told the disciples to “come away to a deserted place and rest awhile” because they’d been “coming and going and had no leisure even to eat.” Coming and going with no leisure to rest or, sometimes, even too eat is an all too familiar experience for many of us this week. The Jacobsens, Ruizes and all sorts of volunteers have been cleaning out flooded homes. Many others are facing their own or loved ones’ health challenges. A number of us are grieving the deaths of loved ones. Students, teachers and staff are starting a new academic year. And then there’s just the regular coming and going we all do every day as we keep up with the tasks and duties that make up the daily grind.

Jesus’ invitation to “come away to a deserted place” sounds pretty good. And I imagine it sounded pretty good to the disciples, too. They’d been doing everything Jesus asked of them and they were exhausted. Finally, a chance to just get away from it all and let down. Finally, Jesus was going to tend to them. But then, huge crowds of people with major needs start showing up; Jesus seems to forget all about helping the maxed- out disciples get a little R and R. Jesus has compassion on the crowd and starts to teach and care for them. The disciples get a little panicked – all these people in this deserted place. How will they manage it all? They’re already exhausted and now more is asked of them. And all these people will need to eat but there is nowhere to buy food!

The disciples come up to Jesus all worked up and insist: “This is a deserted place and the hour is very late, send them away that they may go to the surrounding country and villages and buy something to eat.” The get-away spot that they craved has now become a scary place with limited resources.   Jesus’ compassion, which had seemed like such a good thing, now contributes to their resentment of the crowd. They are overwhelmed and overcome. To make matters worse, Jesus has a radically different point of view about the whole situation. While the disciples see the people in the crowd only as more demands and more pressure, Jesus sees them with the eyes of compassion. He won’t send them away to go get food and to top it all off, he tells the disciples, “you give them something to eat.” The disciples don’t respond well. They whine, “you want us to go and spend a huge amount of money to buy food for all these people?” They go into full-fledged panic mode, a scary place that we often know all too well, especially in times of disaster, illness and grief.

Jesus responds to the disciples’ panic by telling them to go and find out how many loaves they have. He directs their focus away from all the demands and needs, away from their fear of scarcity, and towards the resources they have – five loaves and two fish. Then Jesus slows things down. First, he has the disciples get everyone to sit down in the green grass in smaller groups. Then he says grace, breaks bread, and gives it to his disciples to share. He empowers them to be of service, to see that they can do something – they don’t need to stay stuck, feeling overburdened and overwhelmed. Surprisingly, wondrously, all eat and have their fill, including by the way, the hungry disciples. There is more than enough of the meal, more than enough of Jesus’ compassion, to meet the needs of the disciples and the crowd.

In fact, what looked for awhile like a frightening, deserted place of scarcity becomes the scene of a great picnic, with people sitting together in the green grass, talking, laughing, and sharing what they have. Bodies and spirits are fed. The disciples have the chance to rest and be nourished. They get what they needed in the first place. Jesus slows everything down and opens up a new space, a new way of being. He invites the disciples to move out of panic and fear and into a place of trust, gratitude and generosity.

We often wonder if we have the resources – the energy, the empathy, the focus – to meet the challenges ahead. Will we get compassion fatigue with the many needs of our loved ones, community and world? And who will care for us and tend our needs? Into this tight, scary place, Jesus comes and opens up space for us to live in trust and hope. As he did for the disciples, he does for us. He invites us into simple practices that have a profound effect. Slow down, breathe. Focus on what you have rather than all the demands and all that seems lacking. Say grace. Share. Trust. God is at work in and for you for the sake of the world. Sit down in the green grass (well, as long as it isn’t too close to the river!). Pray. Laugh. Practice gratitude and generosity. These and other practices of faith have sustained people throughout time, throughout the world. They have sustained this congregation for almost 60 years and they will sustain us now as well.

Here is a community that gathers to share a meal, to sit down together to laugh and to cry. Here we share in practices of faith that open us to a life of trust and generosity. We slow down, breathe, pray and focus; we hear God’s promises of abundance; we share in the meal of God’s love. Like the disciples at the great picnic, you will find that your needs are met in this community in unexpected ways. The witness of others here might cause you to reconsider your resources and the ways you use them. A person you might be tempted to dismiss as needy and annoying might help you to slow down and receive nourishment. As you witness Jesus’ compassion being shown to those outside your own circles, you may find space for grace opening up inside you. As you are empowered to use what you have to serve others, the needs and demands of the world may begin to feel less overwhelming and burdensome.

Jesus invites you, as he invited the disciples, to come away to another place to rest and be fed. He invites you out of the fearful places and into a new and different space where you will be nourished in surprising, wondrous ways. We all are welcome in this space and in it we will find that we have all that we need to trust, to give, to live.

So let’s take a few moments to breathe, rest and pray …