WHAT DO YOU BRING TO THE PICNIC?
Did I mention that I had a wee sports car?
Great for picnics…
Hood down…off to Abbotsford…
Picnic under the trees by the Tweed…
Living the dream, my dears,
Living the dream!
That was last year…
Picnic season sort of bypassed me this year…
Somehow too busy…
Shame really cos i| do have a
a whole range of picnic baskets for all occasions…
Little intimate picnic for two…cute!
Family size one…
Slightly funky shaped one…for tall bottles…
Rather ugly modern plastic one…
With ice pack thingy…
They’ve changed over the years of course…
Much more sophisticated affairs…
Jammy piece and a bottle of American Cream Soda…
Flask of Tea
Cold chicken with mayonnaise…
I dinna hink sae..
If we were to have a picnic …
So what have we got….
Yoghurt for pudding…
Maybe different things on the sandwiches…
What would be your choice?
So what do you bring to the picnic?
What do you bring to the picnic….?
All bring something…
Something to add to the mix
Something to freshen things up…
Something to share…
Wee boy brought his loaves and fishes to the picnic…
Bit of a tuna mayo man myself!
But, listen… what if he had held on to it…
Kept quiet about it…
Kept it all for himself…
What if he had said…
I’m alright mate… I’ve got mine…
tough luck on the rest of you…
And what if all the people with things to bring to the picnic
Keep them to themselves …
It’s my time…I’m not going to give it up to run this group or that…
It’s my money…I’m not going to give it to fund this initiative this new idea or that…
It’s my skill…I’m just going to use it to keep me comfortable…and not make it available where it might do some good…
It’s my right to welcome someone or not…so I’ll just keep that to myself…hold on to it…cling on to it…so that new person will keep feeling like a stranger…
It’s my house…I’m not going to open it to other people in the ministry of hospitality…
What if all the people with something to bring to the picnic…kept their gift…their talent…their ability…their unique life-changing quality to themselves…in their picnic basket…
· Nothing would get done..
· Nothing would get better…
· Nothing would be achieved …
The truth is …God can do miracles
With our gifts…however small and insignificant they might seem to us…God can use who we are…
What we do…
He can take what we bring…
It doesn’t matter what you bring to him,
He can do miracles with it.
That’s the good news!
Whatever it is we bring to him
· Our searching
· Our brokenness
· Our weakness
· Our talents
He blesses it.
When we bring our daily WORK
the meaning of what we do is transformed
From “something we do for money”
“Something we do for status”
“Something we do because we have to”
And it becomes
a holy place
an opportunity to share in building the kingdom
our service to God.
And suddenly the ordinary,
is injected with meaning,
because it has been given to him:
offered to him.
And he blesses it:
sanctifies the workplace
and changes our own view
of what it is we do through work.
When we bring him our home life,
it becomes a sacred experience
Rather than just “what you do.”
Parenting a sacred trust:
love and marriage a holy gift:
a whole new way of seeing the commonplace
so that it becomes
the holy place.
When we bring who we are, and what we do
He blesses those things
and injects the ordinary
Whatever we bring him,
he can do miracles with it.
And who ever we are…
He can do miracles with what we bring…
can bring an open and inquiring mind.
He can use that to sow the seeds of faith
that bear fruit in later years:
to lay the ground works of faith,
instilling a sense of the holy
and an awareness that there is more
than “us” - and more than here and now.
Children can teach us that.
We need to encourage nurture and accept that…
Not let it dominate
But set it free, nonetheless…
hungry for change…
well aware that
“The greatest threat to the church
that refusal to budge
to move on,
when they give it to Him,
can be harnessed and used,
to shake up complacency
and take the church to new places…
to give the vision and the courage
to try new things
say the old things is a fresh way.
That’s why we have to listen.
Welcome and encourage…
When we bring the exhausting years of our lives -
when work and home and family
and ageing parents
seem to sap our energy
and crowd our life to bursting point,
he can work his miracles there,
taking our tiredness to his heart,
affirming our worth
and sharing the load.
It’s when we forget
that he is able to do that
that we end up scurrying around
and losing touch
with the well-spring of refreshment and support.
He wants our burdens to be shared with him:
the honest truth of our emptiness
to be brought to him…
When we seek out his strength
and his transforming power,
He can do something with us and for us.
He can take the simple reality of our
“ Having nothing left in the tank”
and heal, strengthen and encourage.
That’s what he does.
Miracles with loaves and fishes.
Miracles with us.
Taking a little nothing -
and making a something from it.
And when we bring the maturity of our experience,
and the length of our years,
and the long faithful service of our love to him,
he can use that powerful resource
to work change in the world.
Wisdom combined with vision and laced with faith
is a powerful tool in the hands of God
And when in riper years
we find, with early retirement patterns,
and freedom from commitments and pressing responsibilities,
when we bring that gift of time and experience
this is a dynamic and creative combination…
And sometimes when that plateau of maturity is reached
we find we have greater freedom with our resources.
Our home can be an open house.
Our money can be a liberating resource…that makes things happen…enables doors to be opened, new possibilities to be considered because we see our money differently now…
Our time can give an availability we never dreamt possible
when we used to be too busy to think.
Whatever we bring, and in our worship we bring so many things:
Our songs – our prayers – our listening… our voice that the teacher told us years ago sounded like a crow…we bring it and he loves to hear it…
Our stumbling words and our uncertainties…
He can take those rough-edged things
and make something fine and beautiful from them…
But that only works
When we do actually bring those things to him…
If the little lad had held on to what he had
either out of possessiveness, or a mistaken thought
that this little trifle would be of no use to the Master…
There would be no story
No miracle to savour.
When we clutch our problems tight in our hands
or cling possessively to our prerogatives
the miracle dies.
It just never happens.
When we come –
just as we are
with all that we have
but also no holding back-
and see what God can do.
I got to go there once…
Where it happened…
The feeding of the big crowd.
Not hard to imagine it…
So, they count the people:
More than five thousand of them.
How do you feed that lot?
They look at what they have
Five mealy loaves
Two measly fishes
And they ask the mocking question, the logical question:
“What are they among so many?”
And the answer comes
And twelve baskets of left-overs later
“Actually, as it happens, more than enough!”
Our Lord does miracles with bread and fishes…
Takes the apparently inadequate resources
Not just sufficiency
What are these among so many?
More than enough!
The Church… its glory days seemingly gone;
many of its vast costly building held together by hope
Its membership statistics in near free-fall
Its leadership in crisis
Looks at the multitude of tasks facing it
Looks at the seemingly meagre resources at its disposal
And asks, desperately,
“What are these among so many?
The miracles of bread and fishes
That meagre as they seem
They are enough!
More than enough!
The Church, by the grace of God
And in the power of Christ
Can fulfil its calling
Complete its tasks…
The Church nationally
The Church locally
The individual Christian
Can – through the power and grace of God
do the job to which they are called.
There is a world to serve….
And that world needs us to love…
Whether it is in face of the global crises of AIDS and poverty
Or the endless calls upon our compassion from needing people
In our communities and cities:
Or simply the old neighbour,
Or frail relative
There is an ocean of need
for the kind of loving to which the Church is called…
And in face of this
We look into our own heart
And we wonder if we are up to it:
if we have that kind of gracious concern.
More often we encounter within ourselves
the shabby compassion that grudges our time
a desire to hunker down against the bitter chill of human need.
That spirit seems more to the fore
than the spontaneous, generous, unconditional caring
that people are crying out for.
Yet the whole message of the Gospels is that Jesus can take the little things
Cups of wine and loaves of bread
Mealy loaves and measly fishes
And make miracles…=
That sometimes weary compassion
With which we respond to the crises that engulf the world.
The “Oh, no not that again!” reaction
To yet another famine, or drought, or economic injustice somewhere in the world
may seem a rather discouraging starting point for our commitment to concern and compassion
our desire to respond to that world to serve…
But when we offer our reluctant hearts to God
He can change the little thing to a wonderful thing…
He can make miracles –with whatever we bring,
however seemingly inadequate.
It’s what he does.
The reality is that
within the life of the Church
there is more than enough for what needs to be done!
More than enough commitment
More than enough dedication
More than enough money…
But the key thing to that being more than just a slogan
More than just a wistful wishful thought
Is that we need to offer it to him!
Bring it to him…
And in obedience and trust
Make these things available to him
So that he can transform them
By the power of his love and grace…
Lord, here is my heart
Soften it, make it tender and responsive
Gracious and open..
Take this capacity I have for caring
And use it as you will
Make that offering
And watch the world around you
The world you serve….
Begin to change
Begin to be healed.
There is enough in your heart
To do that
More than enough…. AMEN