Daily Devotion – July 31, 2012

John 6:22-24

The Bread from Heaven

22 The next day the crowd that had stayed
on the other side of the lake saw that there had been only one boat there. They
also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his
disciples had gone away alone. 23Then some boats from Tiberias came
near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24So
when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they
themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.


Reflection by Geoff Heilhecker 

When we look in on the writings there seems to be a message
of keep moving towards what you want; that the journey will teach you and that
you have to learn and think about what it is you encounter.  At times we need leaders and advice even a
direction to follow. Jesus gave the disciples the desire to move and explore
where and what he was doing. The path is there and the message is usually
interpretation of what we see and feel at that point. Am I leading you down
this discussion or is Jesus giving you a different direction that I am on even
though we originated from the same point? It is nourishment of the travel that
inspires us to reflect and possess meaning in what we encounter. The bread gave
them the physical nourishment that they needed as do I for the crossing but the
nourishment that feeds my soul is filled by the fulfillment from what you share
with me. 


As we sit down to eat to nourish our bodies may our minds and souls be overfilled with love and
wisdom that comes from those we share our journey of life with. Amen!



Daily Devotion – July 30, 2012

John 6:16-21 

Jesus Walks on the Water 

When evening came, his
disciples went down to the lake, got into a boat,
and started across the
lake to Capernaum. It was now dark and Jesus
had not yet come to them.
The lake became rough because a strong wind was

When they had rowed about three or four miles, they sawJesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat and they were terrified.

But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and
immediately the boat reached the land towards which they
were going.


Reflection by Monty Wyne 

Christian teachings consider the episode
a miracle intended to show the importance of faith and the control Jesus had over

How many times has your faith been
tested? How many times has your faith prevailed? How many times have you given
up hope and turned away discouraged and disillusioned?  

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to say
about this. A miracle so unbelievably miraculous, I was stuck. Brain freeze!
Writer’s block! Where’s the muse? On vacation? Fine time for him to take time
off. And then, almost a miracle of and in itself, I remembered a friend who I
would see on Sunday nights. His father has been ill for months, struggling with
cancer that is destroying his body piece by piece. He and I would sit there
discussing how he had prepared a healthy shake to sustain him or sat with him,
encouraging him to fight this horrible disease. 

I thought to myself, talk about testing
your faith, giving up hope, turning away discouraged and disillusioned? This IS
the ultimate test. Yet, Mike is there, like Jesus was there for the disciples.
He calmly reassures his Dad, like Jesus calmly reassured his disciples and
despite all the odds, despite the fact that this disease continues to ravage
his father’s body, he soldiers on. 

What makes him want to live? What makes
him want to continue to awake in the morning and say to himself, “It’s a new
day. I’m still here and I will make the best of it?” I don’t know that I could
be as brave, as courageous or as determined. But imagine what the disciples
thought as they faced the wind and the terrifying waves and the fact that their
boat could overturn at any minute and they would all drown, yet Jesus came to
their rescue. 

Mike and his father stand as beacons of
faith for me. They haven’t given up even though the seas have turned against
them. They haven’t given up even though the waves are washing over the boat and
they realize they could lose the battle at any moment. How strong is your
faith? How strong is your commitment? 
These are questions I ask myself every day. 


Dear God, 

Thank you for people like Mike, for people who believe in people and in you. For without you,
without the son you sent to this earth to confirm their faith in you and your
good deeds we would be lost.


Daily Devotion – July 29, 2012

John 6:12–13

“When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments
left over, so that nothing may be lost. So they gathered them up . . . they
filled twelve baskets.”

Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson

I’ve sometimes wondered if the thing that would really challenge us in the
church isn’t another budget shortfall, but a wild, overwhelming abundance.
“Hey, we have $200,000 left over.” That would be a challenge.

It appears to me we’re often, in the church, really pretty comfortable
struggling to make the budget, cutting the budget, making last-minute appeals.
We know how to do that. It’s in our comfort zone.

What would really be hard on us would be abundance, money or resources or grace
in abundance. Abundance that challenged us to let go of our fears and to lose
ourselves in and for God’s mission and power. That would tough to

When Jesus fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish – an amount the
disciples thought could never possibly be enough – there were, get this,
leftovers! Lots of leftovers. Twelve baskets full of leftovers.

Where Jesus is, John tells us again and again, there is enough and more than
enough. There is abundance. (Check out John 2 where Jesus produces the
equivalent of roughly 800 bottles of wine.)

Are we ready for that? Certainly not. Can we deal with the abundance of God?
How about if today – call it a holy experiment – we trust that abundance?

At the end of the day, be sure to gather up the leftovers.


O Lord, help us to break loose into wild, abundant, confident faith every now
and then, for your Son’s sake.  Amen.


About the AuthorAbout the Author

Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher
and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s
Letters to Timothy for a New Day
, and he is also the author of the
just-published Book of Exodus: A God is still speaking Bible Study. Read his
weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at
by clicking on Weekly Reading.



Daily Devotion – July 28, 2012

John 6:10-13

Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a
great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.
Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them
to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they
were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so
that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of
the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve

Reflection by Diane Ingram 

This story about the loaves and the
fishes and the five thousand people who sat together to eat them is the only
miracle story that appears in all four synoptic gospels: 

Matthew 14:13-21

Mark 6:31-44

Luke 9:10-17

John 6:5-15 

Reading one gospel after another,
it’s difficult to see much difference at all; the accounts are remarkably
similar. If four different writers have included the story about Jesus
providing food for the crowd that gathered around him, we can assume that the
story had significance for the early Christian community. 

That account of a happening on a
grassy hillside may have touched on many levels – not simply a miracle story
but a story about one who could offer the comfort of food, one who could bring
people together, one who could take a hungry, sweaty, agitated, and
disorganized crowd and turn it into a scene of peace and abundance. Every
person got all that he needed, all got as
much as they wanted

That anyone could do that is a kind
of miracle. It’s one that we long for today when we are so at odds with each


Loving God, we ask that we might be able to sit down
together, eat together, talk together, and come away feeling peace and

Daily Devotion – July 27, 2012

John 6:8-9

One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s
brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and
two fish, but what are these for so many people?” 

Reflection by Don Tawney 

We could do no better; we
have no more faith than Philip or Andrew.  We likely would fumble around
for a solution to the dilemma just as they did.  Looking at a mass of
people covering the mountain-side, we would ask the same
question: “But what are these for so many people?”  The
disciples had so little by way of resource when they counted their money in the
general fund, held by their treasurer, Judas. 

Andrew’s question tells
us that the best among Christ’s followers sometimes fail to have the faith
needed for the task.  What did these disciples see as the people swarmed
to Jesus, because they wanted to see this worker of miracles?  They saw a
problem too big for them to solve. 

Andrew, who brought his
brother, Peter, to the Lord, found a lad who had five barley loaves and two small
fish, and brought him to Jesus.  The lad is not named.  Who is
he?  Without having his name on the pages of scripture, he helped Jesus
feed thousands of hungry people.  Jesus used barley loaves, staple food of
the poor; such as was fed to horses, as well as man, to feed the poorest of
society.  The faith of the disciples was weak; it should have been strong,
because they saw great signs performed on the sick, afflicted. 

God has chosen the weak
things of the world to shame the things which are strong.  God used
Gideon, a “Loaf of barley bread” and 300 men to rout their strong
enemies.  Jesus will use what we give Him.  If we have “barley
cakes”, He will use that to bring Glory to His Name. 


I come to you, Jesus, The Bread of Life, who satisfies the hunger
of my soul.




Daily Devotion – July 26, 2012

John 6:5-7

When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him,
Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ 
He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.  Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a


Reflection by Lynne Buell

If you haven’t experienced a Pilgrimage
Thanksgiving Potluck, then you have no idea how much food we can fit on the
long tables in the Narthex. 

Contrary to our text today, there is no doubt
that everyone attending the annual Thanksgiving meal will have enough to eat—and
then some.

The scripture is more than about food
quantity, though.  It is also Jesus’ way
of testing Philip’s understanding of his faith.

So.  Do we ever doubt there will be enough food for our Thanksgiving feast?  Then we should not doubt our ability to
fulfill—because of our faith.



As we continue to learn about Jesus’ miracles, help us to never distrust the paths
you are guiding us down.  Amen. 

Daily Devotion – July 25, 2012

John 6:1-2

“After this Jesus went to the
other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.  A large crowd kept following him, because
they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.”

Reflection by Gabriela Mills

Chapters 5 – 7 in my New Oxford Annotated Bible all start with the words “After
this.”  Reading the first two verses of
chapter six, the scripture assigned to me for today, is a little like turning
on the television after the introduction of your favorite show.  You’ve missed the set up.  The set up happens while music is still
playing and before the first commercial break. 
Crucial information is conveyed that will give way to the plot later,
but without this important 40 seconds of set up, you miss the whole thing.  Or, do you?

Later in chapter six Jesus feeds five thousand people with two loaves of bread and five
fishes.  I love this story – literally
and figuratively, but what is important about verses 1 and 2, the verses above?

Verse 2, “A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing
for the sick” is the part that stands out for me.  Jesus just can’t help himself – he just has
to help people.  He heals people on the
Sabbath, he continues to council his disciples, he argues with the Pharisees –
it just doesn’t end for him, and he can’t escape the crowd.

Imagine that you’re a rock star.  You have no
privacy, no solitude, no place where you can escape and just be yourself
because there is always a crowd of people all around you.  That’s what the big guy signed up for, yet he didn’t complain about it or find it bothersome.  Jesus gave of himself in
each moment and the gifts he gave matched the needs.  He didn’t run and hide.  He didn’t find the demands of the crowd
overwhelming to the point where he felt he needed to buy a convertible and
start acting out, he simply gave and he gave something from the core of his
being.  He gave love. 

A crowd of people kept following Jesus because of the practical love he demonstrated to
all those around him.  If healing was
needed, he gave it.  If feeding was
needed, he gave it.  If arguing with the
high priests was needed, he gave it (or should I say, he brought it).  He gave of himself in the purest form – he demonstrated God’s love in action.  Isn’t that the only thing we need to do?


Heavenly Father, help me to see
those around me today.  Help me to love,
heal, help and teach.  Show me how to
live today as though everything depended upon my actions and, in doing so, give
you all the glory.


Daily Devotion – July 24, 2012

Ephesians 4:29

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is
need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.

Reflection by Jim Kennedy

My parents taught me, “if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all”. I carried the
lesson from childhood to adulthood. At work I’m known as the “talk nice”
person, the one who will find something positive to say even when the person or
situation is FUBAR (i.e., fouled up beyond all recognition). I learned that while
speaking does not always have to be of a somber or even serious character, it
should always edify or build up, making people better than they were before
they heard the words.

I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of being the person who could find some good in
FUBAR situations. Maybe I was trying to give grace to others. I started doing
this after being religiously trained as a Roman Catholic, who don’t need the
Bible given they have the Pope, and a Unitarian Universalist, who don’t
consider the Bible credible. Now I learn that what I’ve always done is actually
in Scripture.

God counsels us to let no corrupt communication proceed out of our mouth. A corrupt
communication is not simply something that is vile and vulgar; it is any
communication that will eclipse from the mind the view of Christ, which will
blot from the soul true sympathy and love. It is a communication in which the
love of Christ is not expressed, but rather is a sentiment of an un-Christian character.

Filthy words proceed from corruption in the speaker, and they corrupt the minds and
manners of those who hear them. Christians should beware of all such discourse
and should seek to bring persons to think seriously. Be kind to one another,
even if this means being politically correct (PC) in your speaking. This sets
forth the principle of love in the heart.

On partisan talk radio I’ve heard much discussion about the alleged over-use of PC
language. Why should we give the un-worthy a break by being PC? Never on
partisan talk radio have I heard it said that being PC may in fact be based on
Scripture. Being PC may simply be saying your words in a way that gives grace
to those who hear. Such speech or communication which springs from a gracious
heart, and from a principle of grace in the heart, and is upon the subject of
the grace of God, is most likely to be useful and edifying.

Unsavory speech, foolish talking, and all that is sinful may spring from a corrupt heart
and may convey corruption to others. Good folk should be cautious what they
say, or their religion may be in vain.


Dear Lord, I pray that I may
always speak to others in a way that builds up and gives grace to those that
listen to and hear me.

Daily Devotion – July 23, 2012


Luke 2:14

‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’


Reflection by Rochelle Lofstrand

This scripture comes out of the Christmas story.  In verses 8 – 13, the angels came to the shepherds by night letting them know that the Messiah had been born, “a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’” 

Every Sunday when we sing “Let There be Peace on Earth”, we echo the sentiments of the heavenly angels.  We sing God’s praises during our service and then at the end, we wish each other and those we do not know PEACE. 

I remember when I was President of the Congregation and we were making the decision to move to two services, we did a survey of the non-negotiables of the service, things that were important to use no matter what the second service “looked” like.  Singing the Peace song at the end of the service and passing of the peace during the service were the two traditions that everyone thought “made” us Pilgrimage.  I tend to agree!


Lord, thank you for our Pilgrimage community.  Our community is one focused on service and peace, just as the heavenly angels remind us every Christmas.  May we say year-round, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!”  AMEN.

Daily Devotion – July 15, 2012

Genesis 2:1-3

“So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that God had done in Creation.