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Tag Archives: Matthew 14:13-21

A Gift Card, Crowds, More than Enough (August 6, 2017)


Matthew 14:13-21

Now when Jesus heard [that John the Baptist had been killed], he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

“[Jesus] ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.”

I read recently that the five loaves and two fish would be enough for a meal for about dozen people. Which means the disciples brought enough for themselves. It’s evening so they want Jesus to quit healing the crowds and send them into town so they can get some food for themselves.

The disciples have enough for themselves, but not for everybody else.

They have enough for themselves.

The disciples aren’t mean. They are noticing that it’s now evening, and if these crowds are going to have any chance of finding food for themselves they better get on it soon! Since the disciples have theirs, they want to make sure these thousands of others can get theirs too.

The disciples have enough for themselves. It’s not their fault the crowds didn’t plan ahead. But Jesus invites them to think about their food—and the crowds—differently too. He asks them to give their food away.

I wonder if the real miracle was that these disciples trusted Jesus enough to do it. Trusted him enough to be willing to take the risk of going hungry if others didn’t share also.

If the disciples had kept their mindset of “I’ve got mine, now you go get yours,” some would surely have gone hungry. But Jesus challenges them to think beyond that. Jesus’ message is that it can’t be “I’ve got mine, good luck to you.” Jesus helps us understand that, together, we’ve got more than enough already. More than enough. It’s a matter of thinking differently about our resources. Thinking beyond ourselves and our own needs. It’s a matter of knowing that there is already more than enough and acting on that. When we have more than enough we are free to be generous.

I talked a couple of months ago about a man named David I met in a coffee shop. When I first met him he was sitting at the table next to mine. The sermon I was working on at the time had to do with racism, and as David was Black, I eventually leaned over and asked this stranger to read over what I had written and give me his impressions. Which he generously and graciously did. I’ve seen him a few times since at the same coffee shop, and we always exchange greetings and he gives me encouragement to keep proclaiming the Word.

This past week David and I were both there again. As usual, we greeted each other and he encouraged me to “keep telling them about Jesus.” We went to our separate tables and each tended to our work. A while later I noticed David walking toward my table. He smiled, and as he approached he laid a coffee shop gift card on my table. “This is for you,” he said. “For your faithfulness and commitment to Jesus.” Then he left.

Here’s why I mention this. You see, when I got to the coffee shop that day and had ordered my latte, there was a moment where I didn’t think I had enough money with me to pay for it. I found a $5 bill, I breathed a sigh of relief—I could buy myself my own cup of coffee. And get change besides. With my drink in hand, I could ignore everyone else in the coffee shop, not really paying any attention as to whether they had coffee or not. I got mine.

But David saw more than just himself in the coffee shop. He saw at least one other person and shared some of his own resources with me. That make me think that there were 16 other people in that coffee shop at that point, and all of them are children of God, all of us are “sitting in the grass” of the coffee shop right then. The hearing impaired couple at the next table, the elderly couple neither of which could walk well, the woman in a wheelchair, the young man mentoring a high school student, the four women playing cards, and all the rest aren’t people to be ignored, but people with stories and lives and who are are worth being cared about.

So, inspired by my friend David, and in an attempt to live out the point of this text, I began to think about what I had that I could share with the multitudes sitting in the grass of the coffee shop. I’m not a stalking creeper or anything. I’m really good at respecting people’s space. But I’m writing this sermon on taking a risk of sharing what you have, and was just on the receiving end of that as the gift card was still sitting there in front of me.

What could I share? I had no more money with me. I wasn’t about to stand up and offer a benediction to all the coffee shop patrons. Interestingly enough, a woman at a nearby table seemed quietly frustrated with her computer. I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t been inspired by David and this text to look beyond myself at the crowds around me. I left the comfort of my own world bubble and asked her if there was anything I could do. It turns out she couldn’t get on the internet even though her computer was brand new.

I’ve struggled to get online there too, and had kind of figured out how to do it, and offered to share that knowledge with her. There was enough band width for everyone with 12 baskets left over. I just had to look a little bit beyond myself and see what I had to share. There’s more than enough for all of us.

We have enough for everything God is calling us to do. Individually for sure. But as a congregation too. Right now. We have more than enough. Our budget is more than sufficient, our human resosurces are more than adequate, our overall giftedness is overabundant. We’re being called to look beyond ourselves and share the abundance of what we have so that all see the miracle of Christ present, so that all have enough. We have enough for ourselves. And it’s more than enough when we share it.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2017 in Sermon

 

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There is Enough (Matthew 14:13-21)

 

There’s enough. Already. Right here. There is enough.

But Jesus, there are 5,000 men, and likely 2-3x that many women and children. There is enough.

But Jesus, we are out in an isolated part of the country without resources. There is enough here.

But Jesus, all these thousands and thousands of people are hungry. There is enough.

But Jesus, shouldn’t we send them off to find some villages where there might be food? There is enough here.

But Jesus, it’s getting late, we’re running out of time for them to find food. There is enough here.

But Jesus, all we have are five loaves of bread and a couple of fish. There’s enough.

But Jesus, we’ve done the math. 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish won’t feed 15,000 – 20,000 people.

And Jesus took “the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples” and said, Here you go. Go feed them. Because there’s enough. Yes, there is. There IS enough.

We had our annual council retreat a couple of weeks ago. One of the things we did was to try to describe this congregation. What images come to mind? What is an accurate way to look at LCM?

Lots of things went up on the white board, all of which seemed accurate. Then Hannah Snyder got up, walked to the white board, and said, “There are two themes that are showing up here.” Then she took a blue marker and circled a bunch of descriptors. Then she took a green marker and circled the rest.

Suddenly, it was obvious to us that everything that we have blue images and green images. Those items in blue were descriptions of LCM  based on images given by the world around us. These were the things that describe what we as a congregation we don’t have enough of. The things in blue included such images as:

we don’t have enough money, not enough people, not enough commitment, not enough kids, not enough involvement, not enough influence.

Not enough. We’ve done the math, Jesus. 5 loaves and 2 fish won’t cut it. The blue things are what we lack. There’s not enough. These are the things we worry about, that cause us to be afraid. The blue things cause us to turn inward and cling to the little we have.

Just as obvious were the items in green. These were descriptions of LCM based on the image of God.

The care expressed,

the community experienced,

the service given in the neighborhood,

the love shown—even to unlikely people,

the compassion revealed in unexpected ways.

The green list was the image of God right here and right now. The image of God as a congregational community bearing the name of Jesus Christ. There is enough. We are enough.  Here you go, Jesus says to us as he hands us bread and fish. Go feed them. Give it away. There’s enough.

The disciples, in considering only the blue limitations, were wrong. Jesus called them to imagine the green possibilities for distributing food for a hungry crowd so that there was enough for everyone. Matthew doesn’t describe how this happened. Here, Matthew describes Jesus handing the loaves and fish to the disciples and telling them to go feed the crowd. He says that in the image of God, in the vision of God, in the reign of God, there is enough right here already. The green list means we have enough. Now go do it. Share it.

I guess we can look at only the blue things—the scarcity, the lack, the weakness, the limitations and how we can’t feed 20,000 people. We can bemoan all the things we can’t do. That’s usually how we view ourselves personally, how we view ourselves as a congregation, how we view ourselves as a world. We keep telling ourselves there is never enough. We always seem to need just a bit more. We will compare ourselves to others around us and realize someone else has more than we do; so obviously we don’t have enough.

God looks at us and tells us that we have all the green things—the abundance, the generosity, the imagination, the compassion, the care, the love—and God says to us, “Yes there is enough. Right here. There is enough.”  Here we go. We can go feed them.

We have all the love we need to love the world.

We have all the generosity we need to be generous to the world.

We have all the compassion we need to walk with the world.

We have all forgiveness, grace, mercy we need to reveal God to the world.

We have enough. Right now. There is plenty to go around. We take that which Jesus has already given to us and we share it with the crowds. “And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.” There is enough.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2014 in Sermon

 

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