Grace and peace to you from God the Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen!
So, today's Gospel lesson is one that is found in all four Gospels. Now, there are probably some friends and family here today who expect me to make bread jokes. Before I get on a Roll with the sermon, I'd like to say that Jesus wasn't Loafing around. And while Jesus was going against the Grain of what the disciples thought he was going to do, we see that Jesus took care of people's Kneads. Now, before these jokes go stale, let's take a look at our passage.
So, Today's Gospel lesson is happens right after John the Baptizer was killed. If you remember, John the Baptizer was a cousin and friend to Jesus, and Jesus has just found out that John was killed. So, Jesus is taking some time to grieve, and he goes in a boat to a deserted place. Now, other people had heard about Jesus, and they too came out to the deserted place. Now, normally, if someone is feeling sad, the last thing that they want to do is go back to work. But Jesus saw the crowds, and had compassion for them, and healed their sick. Now, evening came, and it was getting late. The disciples wanted Jesus to send the crowds away so that the people could get food. But Jesus said “oh, no. YOU give them something to eat.” Well, the disciples were shocked by this. “we have nothing but five loaves and two small fish” They responded. Jesus considered this and said “okay, bring them to me.” He had the crowds sit down on the grass, and Jesus took the loaves and fish, blessed them, broke the loaves, and passed them around to everyone. Everyone ate their fill, and when they collected what was leftover, there were over 12 baskets of bread pieces leftover. This was much, much more than they had started with.
Now, what can I say about this passage? Jesus started out with a boat ride, and ended up doing miracles. Even the disciples seemed surprised by the turn of events. So, let me say some things that I noticed in this passage.
Jesus is Lord. Even in the midst of grief from losing family, Jesus is still the person that the crowds look to. And even better, Jesus has compassion for them, turning his attention to them to cure their sick and injured. Jesus is the kindly Lord who looks after everyone. This leads me to:
Everyone is welcome. It says that there were over 5000 men, and still more women and children. And each and every one of them were welcomed. There isn't any mention of what these people did, how wealthy they were, or where they came from, none of that matter to Jesus. Now, I don't know the reason why the disciples wanted to send the crowds away. If could be because the crowds were hungry, or because the disciples wanted time alone with Jesus, but regardless Jesus told them the disciples he didn't want the crowds to go away.
Everyone has something to share. When Jesus told the disciples to give the people something to eat, they thought “no way, Jose!' There were way to many people, and not enough food. But here's the thing, Jesus didn't conjure a great feast out of mid-air, he just took what they had with them there and used it.
A while back, I heard a story about a church that had started doing a dinner worship service. The idea was that people come, bring their families, enjoy food, and hear the word of God. Now, they didn't know how many people would come, but they still they started setting up tables and cooking food. So people started arriving, sitting down at tables, and then more people came and started setting up tables. And then the dread moment came. One of the cooks came up to the pastor and told her “We don't have enough food. There are still more people coming in. I don't know what we're going to do.” Now, that would usually be a moment of panic for anyone planning dinner. But then the pastor looked out over the crowd and saw something. The food was already there. Big, 9X12 pans of lasagna, bowls of green beans, plenty of bread, and drinks for everyone. The food was already there, waiting to be served. So the pastor made an announcement, that once you have served everyone at your table, pass the food to the next who haven't gotten it yet. And everyone got something to eat, no one went hungry. And the pastor and the church staff still had leftovers for the rest of the week.
Dear friends in Christ, today's lesson, and all of Jesus' ministry here on earth, is about life. Whether it was curing the sick or feeding the hungry, Jesus' ministry brought life wherever he went. Now, you may notice that today's story was an interruption of what Jesus was doing. But, as I've discovered, ministry is in the interruptions. During my time here at Faith-Lilac Way, I have seen this life giving ministry happen. I was able to eat with you at meals, study the word with you, work with you on various projects and missions. I was able to laugh with you, as I was dunked in the dunk tank at the carnival. I smiled with you as we watched happy couples get married. And I cried with you, and we told some dear loved ones “we'll see you again” at their funerals, and life celebrations. And today, we get to see life in faith continue, as we baptize my daughter, Marit. You see, Jesus's ministry, is about life. Not just a moment, but a whole lifetime of moments and memories that help draw us closer to God. We are all on the same path of life, together. And we have all been given great and wonderful talents, gifts that this world needs! Everyone here has something to give, even if it's just time to sit down and chat. So, people of God, go, and share the life and gifts that you have. The world needs what we have.
The tables are set. Let's share.
Thanks be to God! Amen!