Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Are you hungry?

Sermon preached for Pentecost 7, Proper 13A, on Sunday, July 31, 2011.

    I remember once being invited to someone's home.  We were to be there about supper time and I thought it was an invitation to eat a meal with them. But after a glass of wine, a few peanuts and lots of conversation, it was clear that no food was coming.  On the way home we had a little discussion about whether or not the host had explicitly mentioned a meal or not.  Since we were there to eat, we pulled into a fast food drive up window to grab something to eat.  We were starving by the time the food came.  We could not think of anything else but getting something to eat.
    What are you here for today?  Sometimes I fear that there we have lost sight of why we are here.  Instead of the hungry coming here to eat the food of promise given to us by Jesus, we come already filled up on the fast food of the world around us.  When we get here on Sunday morning, we are no longer hungry for the miracle food that is the heart and core of worship in God's House.  Are we hear for a little happy conversation or to eat and drink?  Today the Gospel recalls the hunger that is satisfied by the bread that Jesus multiplies, the gracious bread that only Jesus can give.
    In the Gospel lesson the people were hungry – a great crowd which came to a place far off from the ordinary haunts of their lives.  They came to find this Jesus who healed the sick and spoke with authority the Word of life and they followed Him out in the middle of nowhere.  When evening came they faced another hunger, their stomachs growled with desire to be fed but there was no fast food available.  It was a long way off into the villages to get food and who could buy or carry enough to satisfy everyone.
    But Jesus had a plan.  He would not leave them empty.  He had filled their hearts and minds with the Word of life and He refused to leave them hungry for bread.  They came with all their hungers for the Word of life in the midst of their world so filled with death and disappointment... and for the Bread of life of which they could eat and hunger no more.  They came to Jesus with all their hunger and He gave them the Word and the Bread of life.
    The disciples looked at the crowd and said it could not be done.  A snack was brought to Jesus – perhaps a boy with the best Mom you could have – who would not send her son out without food for the body.  They looked at the five small loaves and the two fish and again they said it could not be done. But Jesus insisted that these be brought to Him and He would make it enough.  And He spoke to them and blessed the bread and they all ate and were satisfied.  It was not just enough but more than enough!  They all ate and that all were satisfied with a basket leftover for each disciple who insisted that it could not be done, that the best Jesus could do was to send them home.  So abundant is the gracious gift of God that it not only meets the need but far exceeds it.
    What are you expecting today?  Why are you here?  Have you come as the hungry to be filled or have you already eaten?  Have you come to hear the Word of life that forgives, heals, redeems, restores, and resurrects to eternal life?  Have you come for the Bread of life that feeds us this grace so that eating and drinking of this holy meal we know the goodness of the Lord and the power of His love?
    We are distracted and consumed by other hungers -- met for a moment but not satisfied in the things around us.  We have grown content with the word of death that reigns in us and all around us.  We have grown complacent about our sin, comfortable in our failings.  We have grown too familiar with the ways of blindness and darkness and fear the light more than desire it.  We have satisfied our hunger by feasting upon the food of evil and wickedness, of emptiness and the things of the moment.  We no longer hunger for righteousness or yearn for eternity.
    Why are you here?  For the Word of life to feed your hearts and minds?  For the Bread of life to feed your bodies and souls?  Then let us repent of our sin and of the desires that focus on and are met by the fast food of words that give no life and bread that cannot satisfy.  Let us repent of the way we fill ourselves with the things of the moment, with no room left for eternity.  Let us repent of our lack of trust and confidence in Jesus and His Word and Bread of life.
    We are you here?  If the hunger that drives you is for life and hope amid death and despair, then Jesus is here for you.  If the hunger that drives you is the guilt and mark of sin that stains your life and steals your joy, then Jesus is here for you.  If the hunger that drives you is for the miracle food that gives you the bread of life, then Jesus is here for you.  If the hunger that drives you is for the community of life together, bound by blood and partners in eternal joy, then Jesus is here for you.  If the hunger the drives you the frustration of that which is never enough to satisfy and fill you with peace, then Jesus is here for you.  Come and be fed... the Word and Bread of life is yours today.  When you come to the Lord empty and hungry, you will leave filled and satisfied.  That is how the grace of God works!
    Another occasion I was invited to a very late gathering so I ate before attending.  When I arrived I found a sumptuous buffet but I could not eat. I had no room left.  I lamented that I had filled up on ordinary food when wonderful, rich food was waiting for me all the time.  If you come hungry, Jesus will fill you.  If you come satisfied with the things of this life, with who you are as a person, with life that ends in death, with sin and its guilt, you have no room left for the rich bounty that Jesus delights in giving to us.  So... why are you here?  If you are hungry, Jesus will feed you – with the rich and wonderful food of heaven, with the gracious bread and the cup of life that is His body and blood given and shed for your forgiveness, life, and salvation.  Are you hungry?  Come and eat!  Amen!

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