Jesus Math: The Only Math I Really Like

Adams United Methodist Church and Sulphur Springs United Methodist Churches

Pastor Missy McCarthy Music: Sue& Craig Gamet, Mike Tyo

August 2, 2020 9th Sunday after Pentecost


Psalm 17:1-7, 15

Matthew 14:13-21

Children’s Moment:

I am sure you have heard a lot of grown ups talking about school. I know things are going to be different than last year. We aren’t sure yet what it is going to look like and most likely it will have to change a bit just like we will make adjustments to church over the next few months changing things as we go, adjusting along the way. But I want you to imagine your classroom. Now this is just a game of pretend right now. Pretend that I am bringing one box of pencils for your entire class to use for the year. Would that work out well? Probably not, right. They would be used up before September was over and you would need more. But what if everyone at home and those here brought in a box of pencils for your class – you would be all set for the year right? That is like ministry and mission and what Jesus is talking about. It is what happens when we do our Red Bird boxes that you see back out in the front and that I have brought up to the rail and have set out in different stations for each of the kids. Each of us brings home a box and fills it full of small things from the store and then before we realize it, we bring it back and when we add them all up we make a big difference to another community. It helps those in Kentucky know that there are folks who care about them and want them to know God loves them. When we pray and ask God to guide us and listen for what God is asking us to do amazing things happen. When each of us does a little bit it adds up to a whole lot. Just like when Jesus tells the disciples to feed the feed the people and to bring the bread and fish.

Ask your family if you want to adopt a box to take home this year for Red Bird or if you can bring in something to add to a box so you can add your little bit. If you can’t fill it, that is okay, we always have boxes that we fill together too. Let us pray that God helps us see where we can do our little bits so that together God can use us to do amazing things.

Reflection: “Math isn’t hard”

When I was in school, I hated the dreaded word problem. It always felt like there was a trick to it somewhere. I can feel the disciple going to Jesus asking him to send the people away and being told to feed them instead looking at Jesus the same way. I feel the disciple’s pain here. It feels like they are looking out at a living math word problem. If you see a field of 5000 men plus an un numbered group of women and children and you look down at your five loves and two sardines how do you feed each person Jesus requested you to feed? How do you respond without panicking when Jesus request you to? Mmmm math.

I feel as if this is how so many people feel when they sit around a table discussing the problems of the world or hearing the news or what is happening that is wrong. I have even been around church meeting tables that felt this way a time or two. I think most of us react as the disciples did at first. We want to send them away, run away ourselves, save our resources because there couldn’t possibly be enough and just give up in defeat – thinking the math is too hard and it won’t work. Yet sometimes we forget what we have on our side just as the disciples did at first. Jesus.

One of the things I have really enjoyed in the last few years is that we haven’t paid attention to the disciple’s math. We seem to be thinking much more like Jesus – we seem to be doing Jesus math a lot more and I love it. Some days when I am feeling a bit more like the disciples your Jesus math is what reminds me to be more like Jesus and step up to the plate and I am ever so grateful for it! Thank you church for being the church.

You see, Jesus had compassion on the folks. He had gone to be by himself because he had just heard that John the Baptist had been beheaded. He was grieving and yet he had compassion for the people and healed them as they followed him. He cured the crowd and taught them and tended to them. He saw that they needed hope. They needed the transforming power of the gospel, to know God, and to be changed by God. The disciples wanted to send them away afraid there wouldn’t be enough to feed them even after Jesus had been healing them. Jesus told them to feed the people. I can just see their faces, looking at him in disbelief and looking down at their meager lunch of a few loaves of bread and tiny fish. The disciples said they didn’t have enough (I can almost hear it in a kind of whiny voice), afraid of being hungry and running out. Jesus reminds them to bring what they have to him and so they do, and in the process, it becomes enough with excess of 12 barrels left over!! Isn’t it amazing that when we stop thinking about not having enough suddenly, we have more than enough and even more shows up!

We are so often tempted to say but this doesn’t happen anymore, but it does!!! We have so many stories of it happening over and over and over again between the two churches.

I woke up this morning with the story of Spartan’s closet on my heart to share with you. This is one of our loaves and fishes stories…Spartan’s closet is a community based organization that I sit on the board of as the pastor of this church. It helps to match new and gently used clothes, school supplies and winter gear to kids and people in the community who could really use them. There are no financial requirements, anyone who needs them is welcome. For the last few years, it has taken place at the school but unfortunately due to COVID, insurance and state mandates on building usage it was not going to happen. I brought that news back to our little church and the ladies who usually run our bit which is sorting and storing some of the clothes in between give aways started praying and talking.

Now please hear this, we store only some of the clothes. We house a bit of the stuff that gets given ahead of time, or if people are cleaning out and don’t want to wait for the giveaway we take it…..Our people know we do this so often they bring in a small bag or two of stuff. We began praying about it and decided we had to find away to make this happen because with people out of work, and the financial situation all crazy, folks could use this…..So we began working on how to make this happen logistically and legally….and the Spartan’s closet team worked on it….

This is loaves and fishes. I don’t know where all the clothes came from downstairs. We gathered the stuff that had been stored at school, and it just seemed to multiply. The dining hall is full of bins that have finished being sorted socially distanced. I do know that at the beginning of this I received a check to be used for the mission, walked into a store and found several racks of brand-new snow suits on clearance. We were able to purchase 10 brand new snow suits, and 5 brand new sets of boots for Spartan’s closet with it. That is loaves and fishes. In a time when I hear other churches complaining about no one wanting to volunteer for anything the people organizing the volunteers had the volunteers organized in a few days. That is loaves and fishes. I have no ideas where all those clothes came from and how they all got there… there got to be so many, it is truly awesome, but that is loaves and fishes. We just did our small part….This is what Jesus asks us to do. To step up and say yes when he asks us to feed the people to give what we got and he will amplify, magnify and multiply, he will do the rest….we just have to say yes and give what we got…