Sermon for July 26th, 2015

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John 6:1-21

1After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” 10Jesus 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. 11Then 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. 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” 15When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. 16When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

Celtic Christianity: The Goodness of All Creation

Larry Nugent is an Irish farmer, also the owner of the Bed & Breakfast where Amy and I stayed in Northern Ireland last week. Larry bears a striking resemblance to the late comedian Robin Williams, and cracks about as many jokes, although you have to listen very carefully to understand them through his rather thick and fast-paced Irish Brogue.

One morning after breakfast, I was telling Larry how nice it was that in Ireland, we could drive almost anywhere in the country in just two hours. I told him that back home in Texas, it took us almost an entire day to drive to another major city. Larry just patted me on the shoulder and said, "I know how you feel. I once had a car like that, too."

Part of Ireland's enduring charm comes from the fact that it is indeed a small island, tucked away at the North Western edge of the Atlantic ocean, in many ways isolated from the rest of Europe. Christianity came to Ireland in the 5th century, the time of Saint Patrick, and it continued to grow and flourish there even as the rest of Christianity, along with the Roman Empire on the continent fell into a time of chaos and fragmentation that has been called the "dark ages."

Because of this, a different form of Christianity developed in Ireland for several centuries, a separate stream with its own unique emphases and ways of understanding the scriptures. This period and these practices are often referred to as "Celtic Christianity," and during our time in Ireland, Amy and I were both privileged to take a course on the subject, offered through the Centre for Celtic Spirituality, taught by the Rev. Grace Cluny, who is an ordained minister in the Church of Ireland and the author of the book, "Sacred Living," which examines practical ways that we can incorporate these ancient Celtic ideals into our own modern faith journeys.

So for the next four weeks,