Tuesday, August 8, 2017

More than enough. . .

Sermon for Pentecost 9, Proper 13A, preached on Sunday, August 6, 2017.

    There is no way around it.  Jesus feeding 5000 plus women and children is a big deal.  Why not? Who doesn’t like free food? If a church can do okay on free coffee, think what we could do if offered free food?  If you feed them, they will come.  Or is there something more to this than a free lunch?  In addition to the food, there are some words of Jesus to His disciples we might do well to pay attention to before we write this off to just food.
    Jesus says to His disciples, “You do it.”  You feed them.  You give them food. You take care of them.  You own their need. And  the response to Jesus?  BUT. . .   Jesus says you have the resources and the response is . . . are you ready for it. . . BUT. . . We are too far away from the places that can feed people so there is nothing we can do.  We have no source of supply.  We cannot make these things appear out of thin air now can we?  BUT. . . it is late.  The day is far spent.  There is not enough time now.  If only we knew about the need sooner and knew earlier that we would have to meet that need, well, we might have done something.  But not now.  It is too late in the game to fix the problem now.  In the first place, we do not have the resources and, if we did, we don’t have the time.  So, what do you expect from us Jesus?
    And then comes the biggest BUT of all. . .  But it is not our job.  It is not our job to feed people who did not think to bring food with them.  It is not our job to take care of them.  Let them take care of themselves.  Which has a subtle twist to it.  If it is not our job, it must be God’s job.  And if it is God’s job, we are off the hook.
    The disciples are full of excuses.  Now is not the time.  Now is not the place.  Not my job.  But that could have been God’s excuse.  It is your sin.  Fix it.  It is the death you chose.  Deal with it.  It is not my job.  You made your bed, lay in it.  But that is not what the Lord did.  He came into time, into our earthly lives, took His place under the Law and upon the cross.  He died the death that was ours.  And now we live because of Him.  You see this is not a story of food but of grace, of how the grace of God has been manifested for us and how we live out that grace by faith.
    The disciples did have something.  They had 5 loaves and 2 fish.  They had resources.  We have resources.  God supplied the resources then and He supplies them to us now.  You are that person with the lunch.  You have what you have, are you willing to trust God's grace and use it for the sake of the Kingdom?
    You bring it to God and it will be enough.  Faith trusts the Lord.  Grace is sufficient.  God is not asking for that which you do not have.  He asks you to trust Him, to trust the sufficiency of His grace.  It will be enough.  It may not be all you desire but it will be enough.  Like the disciples, we offer back to God what He has first given us.  Here are our fish and our loaves.  It happens every Sunday.  We call it the offering.  It cannot buy our salvation but it can show forth our faith.  It cannot purchase God’s mercy but it shows our trust in that mercy.  It may not seem like much, but it is just enough for God to fulfill His purpose.  It comes down to faith, faith in the sufficiency of God's grace.
    The Lord gives and we merely return to Him what He has first given to us.  Did you notice in the text that the disciples did not starve even though they gave up their fish and loaves?  In fact, they had to go baskets of leftovers to take home.  Jesus did not give back 5 loaves and 2 fish.  He gave back more.  He showed them how grace works.
    God has given us all we need for our salvation and for the work of the Kingdom, spreading the news of that salvation to a waiting world.  He does not make these resources come out of thin air.  God provides.  We do believe that, don’t we?  The money you put in the plate, right?  It comes from God, right?  The Lord will not coerce you into giving or shame you into offerings.  He loves a cheerful giver and faith makes the giver cheerful (not an abundance of money or things).  He will not leave you empty or abandon you.  He who has given you things in Christ, will He now stiff you?
    No where is this demonstrated more than in the Eucharist.  We offer the Lord bread and wine – food for a moment.  God returns to us the flesh and blood of Christ, food for eternity.  It is blessed and magnified by grace until it feeds until we want for nothing more.  This parable is an invitation to taste and see the goodness of the Lord.  He feeds the starving poor with Christ’s flesh for the life of the world and He gives to the thirsting to drink of His blood.  The Lord took on all your sin and death and gave you back forgiveness and life.  It is how grace works.  If we trust it for salvation, can we not trust it with tithes and offerings and earthly things?  Amen


Anonymous said...

”We offer the Lord bread and wine…” Where are we commanded to do so? Do our hearts continue to yearn for the sacrifice of the Mass, because we cannot tolerate God doing everything for us? We have to contribute something, so we offer bread and wine. This is like the fire God did not ask for.
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Lutheran Lurker said...

Surely you cannot deny that we offer bread and wine in the same way the disciples offered 5 loaves and 2 fish? Besides it was not the bread and wine that were this sacrifice of the mass but Christs body and blood.

Anonymous said...

Surely and most certainly I do deny it. Is the Lord hungry? Is He too far from His home to buy His own bread and wine? Did the Disciples say, “Here, Lord, take these and feed the 5 or 4 thousand”? They did not. Our Lord commanded them to give what they had, and they obeyed. The word “offer” in the original posting is used in the sense of “sacrifice”, as God required His people to do in the Old Covenant, not as providing for anybody’s real need. And it is not that far from sacrificing bread and wine to sacrificing the Body of our Lord. “Sacrificing” bread and wine is done in place of what we are forbidden to do, just so we could do a little something for God. But how wonderful it would be to fully participate in our own salvation by sacrificing His Body?
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart