There is a math problem in the story of Jesus’ feeding the 5,000 in Matthew 14:13-21.
Following the execution of John, the Baptist, Jesus tried to get away from it all for a while, but when he and his disciples had crossed the Sea of Galilee, crowds waited for him on shore. Though he was grieving the death of his cousin, out of compassion, he nevertheless healed the sick who were brought to him. Since it was a wilderness place and the day was coming to an end, the disciples suggested he dismiss the crowds so they could buy some food. Jesus told the disciples to feed the people.
However, the disciples only had 5 loaves and 2 fish which posed an unsolvable equation for them. In their view, the equation was 5 + 2 = 7. Actually, the equation was 5 + 2 + 1 = 8. The 1 is Jesus. Notice I used the present tense. Like the disciples we often view our resources as inadequate. But Jesus says, “Bring them to me.” Look what happens. Jesus took the loaves and fish, looked up to heaven and said a blessing upon what was at hand and turned it into an abundance.
This isn’t only a mathematics problem in our private lives, but also in congregations. Bring our resources to Jesus and see what he can do. After all, in Holy Communion yesterday, He turned bread and wine into his body and blood, and fed millions of people.
Pentecost 9 Prayer of the Day
The Prayer of the Day (Collect) is addressed to the Heavenly Father. “Though we do not deserve your goodness, still you provide for all our needs of body and soul.” The gospel lesson features the time Jesus fed five thousand men, plus women and children, with five loaves and two fish borrowed from the disciples’ picnic cooler. After everyone had eaten their fill, the disciples, ever the want not waste not sort, picked up twelve baskets of left overs. So, they ended up with far more than they had begun.
As the Prayer of the Day continues, it focuses on the work of the Holy Spirit. We ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit that we might do three things. 1. Acknowledge your gifts. We have nothing that is not from the Father. 2. Give thanks for all Your benefits. That would include a boundless list beginning with life, and air, and water and food and our bodily functions and on and on including family and friends. Remember Martin Luther’s list in the catechism? 3. Serve You in willing obedience. Notice, it says, willing obedience. Not “Yeah, yeah God, if you insist, I guess I don’t have a choice, do I?”
We pray for all of this “through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”
A lot to think about tomorrow in those 30 seconds of prayer. Worth talking about, maybe in place of the sermon.
From Richard Ford’s Novel
Let me be Frank with You
I feel a need to more consciously pick my feet up when I walk- “the gramps shuffle” being the unmaskable, final-journey approach signal. It’s also to keep me from falling down and busting my ass.
What is it about falling? “He died of a fall.” “The poor thing never recovered after his fall.” “He broke his hip in a fall and was never the same.” “Death came relatively quickly after a fall in the back yard.” How far do these people fall? Off of buildings? Over spuming cataracts? Down manholes? Is it farther to the ground than it used to be? In years gone by I’d fall on the ice, hop back up and never think a thought. Now it’s a death sentence…Why am I now a walking accident waiting to happen? Why am I more worried about that than whether there’s an afterlife?
It’s hard to be romantic about gardening as we enter August. The lush green Hostas of May which had soaked up the ample Spring rains are now dry leafed. The squirrels have enjoyed more of my tomatoes than I have. I imagine the garden crying out, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.” (Ps. 22:15) The mowing crew stirs up more dust in the backyard than tops of grass being sliced off.
The thorns and thistles of Genesis 1 hangs more heavily in the air than the visionary hopes of Rev. 22 with the tree of life yielding twelve kinds of fruit with leaves the heals the nations.
We hope for the grace of rain to fall like the word of the Lord freshening up the abused plants even as the grace of the word refreshes our lives. We hope for the grace of rain so that the squirrels can find another source for thirst quenching drink than the juice in my still green tomatoes.
The gospel lessons for the last three Sundays have been from Matthew 13. How fitting that all of them contain parables Jesus told and all of them are based in the world of agriculture. A sower went out to sow and some seed failed and some yielded a hundredfold. A man sowed seeds and then at night an enemy sowed weed seeds. A man sows mustard seed. Where I come from mustard was wild invasive weed. A treasure is hidden in a field.
Perhaps I need to look more closely at my crying garden to see the parables they are telling.