A man had been driving all night and by morning was still far from his destination. He decided to stop at the next city he came to, and park somewhere quiet so he could get an hour or two of sleep. The quiet place he chose happened to be on one of the city's major jogging routes. No sooner had he settled back to snooze when there came a knocking on his window. He looked out and saw a jogger running in place. "Yes?" "Excuse me, sir," the jogger said, "do you have the time?" The man looked at the car clock and answered, "8:15". The jogger said thanks and left. The man settled back again, and was just dozing off when there was another knock on the window and another jogger. "Excuse me, sir, do you have the time?" "8:25!"
The jogger said thanks and left. Now the man could see other joggers passing by and he knew it was only a matter of time before another one disturbed him. To avoid the problem, he got out a pen and paper and put a sign in his window saying, "I do not know the time!" Once again he settled back to sleep. He was just dozing off when there was another knock on the window.
"Sir, sir? It's 8:45!."

or, I don't know if you have had a holiday or are planning to have one? We are in the holiday season. This gives people the chance to escape from the everyday, to do something different, to get away, to recharge their batteries. How would you feel about having your holiday interrupted?

Jesus had just heard that Herod had murdered his relative, John the Baptist. He wanted to get away. Probably to reflect, pray, spend time with God, even grieve. The gospels give us examples of Jesus withdrawing to spend time with God in prayer.

I am very grateful to the Diocese, PCC, and individuals for being able to take time away from Parish life to pray, study, reflect, experience different types of worship, and to minister in Brazil. Many of you will be interested to hear more details. I have written an article which will appear in the September magazine. There will also be a church meeting for those who want to find out more.
As well as being grateful to Penny, William and David, Phil, and other people in our church, I am also grateful to the many people who took services during my absence. Just as the extended study leave was an opportunity for me, it was also an opportunity for you. To experience a variety of preachers and service leaders. To listen what God wanted to say through them. I think, as individuals and a church we need to be asking ourselves what message we can take from the last three months. This is something that I have been and am doing, too.

Though Jesus wanted to escape he didn't succeed. The crowd followed him and he had compassion on them. He could have been strict, and focused on what he felt he needed to do for himself. He could have looked at the crowd and thought that they were being selfish in following him. Wanting to be healed. To be entertained by seeing healings or other miracles, and hearing him speak. He knew that some of them hoped he was the Messiah and that he would lead them to military victory against the Romans

Jesus had compassion, a word linked to love and mercy. The Greek word Splanchnizomai (to have compassion) means literally to be moved in one's bowels. This where they considered the emotions and feelings to reside. Jesus was not remote or coldly calculating and analytical concerning people's needs but was deeply moved by the suffering, confusion, despair, and spiritual lostness of those around Him. Jesus felt pain, experiencing genuine anguish for the suffering of others, whether they were believer or unbeliever, Jew or Gentile, man or woman, young or old, wealthy or poor.
Jesus showed compassion to the crowd. He healed the sick. I am sure that he also taught the crowd about God. He fed them spiritually and physically.
Jesus has shown compassion to us. He heals people today. He teaches people. Through his word, the Bible. Through his people, which includes the ministers he has sent over the last three months to feed you spiritually. Through the ministers I have heard in Holland, Brazil, the O2 arena, and Longmeadow Church. He provides for us physically, too. Food, water, homes, possessions, friends, families...

Everything we have is a gift from God. Especially the gift of eternal life, which is knowing God. Jesus showed God's love, mercy and compassion on the cross. There Jesus provided people with the pardon and the mercy we need to be put right with God. We celebrate and proclaim that in today's Communion service.

We have been considering what happened between Jesus and the crowd. I would also like us to consider what happened between Jesus and his disciples. It was evening and they started to hear a rumbling sound. It got bigger, and bigger and bigger. Was it an earthquake? No, it was people's empty stomachs! Jesus had experienced compassion within his bowels. Now the crowd were experiencing hunger within themselves!
The disciples asked Jesus to send the crowd away to nearby villages so they could buy food. This may have been impractical. It could be that their request was a ploy to try to get rid of the crowd because it had been a long day and they were hungry and, perhaps, tired and needed some rest.
Jesus challenges the disciples to act. v16 "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."

This miracle occurs in all of the gospels. John's gospel tells us that Jesus spoke to Philip, one of the disciples who came from this area. He would know where the bread shops were! His reply was “Eight months wages would not buy enough for each one to have a bite” John 6.7. We have to remember that there were 5,000 men, so the women and children could easily have quadrupled that number. Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, then came forward with the boy's packed lunch of five rolls and two small fish. (6.8f)

The disciples looked at the problem, rather than the solution. They were like a person standing in front of Niagra Falls, asking where they can get a drink of water!

As we look back on this scene, nearly 2,000 years later, it seems impossible that the idea of Jesus feeding the people miraculously did not enter the disciples' minds! They looked no further than their own resources. They looked at the boy's packed lunch. They looked at the crowd. They looked at the lunch so lovingly and thoughtfully packed by the boys mum that morning. They looked at the crowd again. They felt hopeless, inadequate, powerless. Perhaps they blamed the crowd, thinking that they were foolish to come all that way and to stay so long without bringing any food.
The disciples had seen Jesus perform miracles. He had provided gallons of top quality wine from water at the wedding in Cana. He had provided an abundant catch of fish at a time when you don't fish, healed people, provided money from a fish's mouth to pay Peter's tax. It would seem so natural for the disciples to expect Jesus to feed the crowd. LOUD They were face to face with the supreme power in the universe and yet were spiritually blind! They knew it, but they did not know it. Had anyone asked them if Jesus could do such a thing, their answer would have been an unhesitating and unanimous, "Of course He can!" QT But even when prompted by Jesus' question, they saw their own lack instead of His abundant ability. Despite two years of walking with the Lord, hearing Him teach God's truth and seeing Him demonstrate miraculous power, the twelve were too spiritually dull to see the obvious. They were looking only with their human eyes and only at human resources.

LD Even with this story and knowing other examples of Jesus' power, we can fall into the same trap as the disciples. We can focus on what we see as problems and our own inabilities, when our attitude should be that this is an opportunity for God to show his power. QT After all, if we succeed by doing things in our own strength and power, who is going to get the glory and praise? This is a message that runs through the Bible. For example, Gideon. The Lord reduced his army from 32,000 to 300 so that God could get the glory when the Midianites were defeated by the 300 just blowing trumpets and breaking jars, Judges 7.

When I went to Brazil I had no idea what to expect. Apparently the team didn't know what to expect of an older Vicar, too! But God went before me and the other members of the team. He supplied accommodation, transport and food. A supportive church. Fellow team members with differing nationalities, personalities, languages and gifting. He supplied the love, joy and peace we needed to live and minister together. He also supplied a lot of laughter!

A little boy was trying to raise some money by collecting old bottles, going door-to-door in his neighbourhood.
When he came to the home of a woman who was known to be miserable the little boy asked, "Do you have any coke bottles?" "No," she replied with a scowl.
Then he said, "Do you have any old whiskey bottles?" "Young man," the woman replied, "Do I look like the type of person who would have old whiskey bottles?"  
The little boy studied her for a moment and then asked, "Well, do you have any old vinegar bottles?"

God doesn't call us to be negative and look at problems but to look to His power. When we look around at the problems in our lives and, perhaps feel helpless, we should look to God.
As we look at our church, wish things could be different, what should we do? Look to God. Don't look at the little, the packed lunch, look to a God who can transform and multiply!
As we look at the news, and are appalled at people's inhumanity and injustice we should? Look to God. Don't moan or despair, pray and trust in God!

Let us remember, too, that God has showed his compassion, love and mercy to us. Let is be truly thankful for his great mercy to us shown in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Let us be aware that, in the power of the Spirit, he calls us to be his agents of compassion, love and mercy in a world that is crying out for these qualities.