July Sermons

August 2017 Sermons


Missed a sermon?  Enjoyed it so much you want to read it?  Want to check that you heard that?  Below are the recent sermons from August 2017.  We encourage you to use the reflection on the Word in your faith practice.  May they lift you up and enrich your faith.  Enjoy!



 riverrocks  intention

River Rocks

August 27, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared a message that we can build a foundation on the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.  

Setting Our Intention

August 20, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared about how we listen for and how we can begin to set our intention on God. 
 Matthew 16:13-20 Matthew 15: 10-28 
walkonwater fishandloaves

When We're called to 'Come'

August 13, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared a message that encourages us to heed the call of Jesus and obey the command to 'Come.'

Enough for Everyone

August 6, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared a message of God's provision and miraculous wonder, then and now.  

Matthew 14:22-33 Matthew 14:31-21




River Rocks



Matthew 16:13-20


13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.


Interpretation of the Word                           River Rocks


Who am I? As the school year begins for many, your children and grandchildren are being asked this very question, who are you?  They begin a new year and they are asked who to identify themselves.  What is your name?  Or Roll is called, and they identify themselves based on a name called.  When I think of roll being called I always think of the scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,  where the Ben Stein is calling roll:

Adams. Adamly. Adamousky. Adamson. Adler. Anderson...Anderson. Bueller...Bueller...Bueller...Bueller...


These students are nothing more than names to on a sheet of paper to the teacher.  He is not interested in their story, he just wants to know if they are present or not.  He is not interested in WHY they are not present, in Bueller’s case. 

But the thing is folks, names ARE important.  Who we are is important.  It helps us determine where we’ve come from.  Where we originate from, what our lineage is. 

Knowing these things help us to project where we might want to go or what we might do in our future.  In ancient days, Bakers were bakers; Goldsmiths usually was place gold pieces; at Barber’s you could get a haircut; Boatwright might be the best place to repair your leaky boat; Carpenters made sturdy tables and chairs; Fishers had the freshest fish around.  Farmers always had the freshest eggs and meat.  Fleischman’s is a great place to get a cut of meat.  You get the point names are important. 

More and more people are interested in knowing where they came from, what their identity is.  Ancestry.com offers a DNA test to help people connect with relatives based on our genetic markers.  More than surnames, we can now look at our genetic makeup and see if we are related, if we share ancestry with one another. 

So when Jesus asks the disciples “who do people say that the Son of Man is,” so while it sounds as though he is asking about origin, what family he comes from and what vocation people have attached to his name.  His surname could have been Watermann or Fisher or Carpenter; this is not really about his last name, not about what names and the flesh and blood reveal to us, but something deeper.  This is about what has been revealed to them in their hearts.  Their hearts have learned, experienced and seen that Jesus is “ho christos,” the Christ, the Messiah.  A literal translation of what Peter says is: “you are the Christ the son of the living God.”  Peter realizes, and maybe so do the other disciples, that Jesus is more than just a Fisher or Captenter, but that he is Jesus the Son of the Living God.  Jesus is messiah is a reality.  We know Messiah to mean a promised deliverer, a leader or savior of a particular group or cause, but in Jesus’ day it meant the anointed, smeared and smudged (think David anointed with oil and Isaiah’s lips smeared with hot coal).  Messiah then is someone who has been elected, designated, appointed, and so on for a specific purpose, and Jesus Son of the Living God is anointed to do MORE than raise up the Jews, but to restore relationship.

This is foundational.  This is something we can build on.  This is a realization that Jesus is MORE.  This is a rock we can build upon.  Earlier in Matthew, Chapter 7, verses 24-27, to be exact, Jesus relayed a parable to the disciples about a wise builder and a foolish builder.  The wise builder built his house upon a rock, that withstands the test of waves crashing and storms beating down, while the foolish builder built his house upon sand that washes away when waves crash up against the house. 

The knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the Living God, is a rock that we can build our faith on; it is a solid foundation; it can stand the test of time.  Jesus has laid a foundation that is rock solid, which is based upon more than earthly desire or concerns, but set in the very nature of the Living God.  Jesus is the one who has come to lead not only the Jews but all people into a renewed relationship with the living God who looks out for us, who delivers us from all that will destroy us.  Not only has Jesus come to lead the people, but he has also come to teach a new way, and to wade into the water with us.  Jesus didn’t say go and do without going and doing side-by-side.  Messiah, the one anointed, has become a reality for them. 

Messiah is a reality for us too.  Jesus is the one anointed to lead us through this hot mess of a world.  We can look to the Word and see that he speaks truth, acts justly, loves mercy and walks humbly with God.   (Not just about a name for us too) It is more than a name. 

If we are going to wade into the river waters of the community around us, then we have to know what is under our feet.  Is it murky mud?  It is sinking sand?  It is cracking clay?  Or is it rock?  Firm and solid under our feet.  Jesus, the Son of the Living God, is our rock and the only foundation that will stand the test of time.  If we do anything that does not originate from a point of God as the center, then we are like the foolish builder and all will be washed away.  Jesus is the rock that we can rely on, the firm foundation for us to build off of.  If we want to build up a ministry, a thriving community here, it HAS to be built on a firm foundation of Jesus the Son of the Living God.  Nothing else will do.  







Setting our Intention



Matthew 15:10-28


10Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: 11it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” 12Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” 13He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” 15But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” 16Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding?17Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? 18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. 19For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

21Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.22Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” 23But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” 24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 27She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.



Interpretation of the Word           


For a number of years, I had a very healthy, and active yoga practice.  This practice has waned in recent years, but some of the elements of the practice remain with me.  One of them is the practice of ‘Setting my Intention.”

Setting an intention is like drawing a map of where you wish to go.  It becomes a driving for of your higher consciousness.  Without an intention there is no dirivng force, you’re just driving down a road with no destination in mind.  When you set your intention for your yoga practice, it  acts like a metaphor meant to translate your yoga practice off your mat and into your everyday life.  It is a means of making the practices of yoga an aspect of your lifestyle, rather than something you do just for exercise.  It is about intentionally bringing your attention and awareness to a quality or virtue you wish to cultivate for your practice both on and off your mat.  Some examples of qualities or virtues you might use as your intention include: peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, gratitude, grace, being present in the moment, awareness of breath, love, forgiveness, letting go, releasing negativity, being open to receive, inner strength, or peacefulness.

By setting an intention you are building a bridge between what you work through on your mat, and what you continue to focus your mind on when you step off of your mat. This intention is a powerfully energetic tool to take your practice into the world.  When we set our intention, it has the power to translate into our actions throughout our day. 

Depending on the intention we set it has the possibility to translate into good or into not so good.  While I imagine that Jesus did not have an active yoga practice, he did have a VERY active prayer life, and setting one’s intention is, in my mind, a part of an active prayer life.  I see ‘setting an intention’ as a vision for our day, for our life, for the kind of world we want to bring into being.  Even praying the Lord’s Prayer “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” is an intention set for how we live out our days.  It is tuning our body and mind into our heart’s desire and working towards that.  

This morning we hear in Matthew that Jesus was challenged about what is appropriate to eat and not eat.  Those around him what to know what defiles a person?  Must we keep kosher?  Keep milk separate from meat?  Avoid all the little piggies and their delicious bacon? Steer clear of those bottom-feeding crustaceans?  They want to know to what extent they have to keep their food ritually pure.  Jesus answers this question in a way that allows for all the bacon wrapped shrimp dipped in cream sauce your stomach can handle.  Instead Jesus says that the heart of the matter is your heart, is your intention.  It is not a matter of what does into the mouth, but rather what comes out of our mouths, out of our hearts.

It is not what goes into the mouth, but what comes out of it, those words and the intentions behind them.  And if you were listening or reading along in Matthew, you might be wondering “what the heck.”  Jesus your very own words hurt. 

When the Canaanite woman called out for help not for her, but for her demon possessed daughter, Jesus, having just taught about what comes out of the mouth out of the heart, is important, the most important, sends this woman away, calls her a dog.  How rude!  Are you having a moment of “What the heck, Jesus?  Wait a minute!  I thought… the message was for everyone.” I did.  I asked myself, “What kind of Jesus is this?  He doesn’t seem very loving at this moment.” I don’t really like his attitude, his human-ness, his non-loving, non-God-like behavior, this is NOT my Jesus…  This is not an easy passage to digest, as it leaves us with a sour taste in our mouths.  And yet, it shows us that sometimes our intentions have to be adjusted.  The vision has to be expanded. 

Jesus’ intentions were initially focused on the lost sheep of the house of Israel, on those descended from Jacob, who wrestled with the Lord.  But the vision has to be expanded.  The children are not the only ones who hunger and thirst for food.  The woman challenges that, Yes, but even dogs need a crumb to survive.  A morsel merely whets their appetite.  After the smallest crumb, they are ever by your side.

Have you ever fed a hungry dog?  Ever snuck the dog a crumb or a scrap that would otherwise be wasted from the table?  Once you’ve fed a dog from the table they are your best friend for life.  They will sit by your side at the dinner table, waiting, for a morsel to make it down to their level.  Some may beg, some may give you those eyes that break your heart, and you can’t resist.  Stray dogs, once fed, will stay, waiting for the next morsel of food.  It is more than they got elsewhere.  So if there is food, dogs are there, they become a member of the family.  A pup that was once a stray, wanted by no one, is now a valued member of the family, welcome at the table.  We know that Jesus is offering food that sustains more than the body, it sustains the soul!  So why wouldn’t everyone want a taste of that? 

Right here, in this moment, the vision is expanded.  It is not just about the little children of Israel anymore, not just about lost sheep, it is about stray dogs, it is about Gentiles who eat unclean foods, but their hearts seek to be nourished by God’s unconditional and saving love. 

The Canaanite woman wants more than physical healing for her daughter; she is seeking to be included in the vision.  It is easy to be distracted by the things going on around us.  It is easy to be distracted by the voices around us, especially when those voices are given platforms that are biased, one-sided and not the whole, complete picture.  

This week, for many, has been a hard week, there have been a lot of hard weeks, of late haven’t there?  But for our community, for our brothers and sisters in faith in Charlottesville, it has been a difficult week.  They experienced hate and anger in ways that they never anticipated.  Wednesday afternoon, I was with local area pastors in Charlottesville, at Meadows Presbyterian Church, to pray with, to listen, to provide support to my colleagues.  As we prayed, talked and listened for the vision, one thing became clear to me.  That one thing, is that we have to set our intention, our vision, on God’s vision for our church, our community, our world. 

We have to expand our focus, we have to expand our vision, take in the WHOLE picture.  See the lost sheep, but also see the stray dogs.  I am not saying that I have the answer.  I am not sure how it is done.  But I know what the vision looks like.  I know that it is a beautiful painting.  Where everyone has a seat at the table, and there is MORE than enough for everyone.  It is a colorful table, with every color under the sun around and on the table.  It is a color wheel of God’s love bountifully shared with everyone who sits at the table.  It is a table where judgement is left at the door and we join all together as God’s children. 

It reminds me of meals with my family growing up.  When we gathered for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, heck even birthdays, there was ALWAYS enough for everyone and EVERYONE was welcome.  There were regularly “strays” at the table.  People who had nowhere else to go; no one who welcomed them home, were welcome with us, at our table in our home.  Everyone in our family knew that we could bring someone and they would become family.  Forever welcome to stop in for a meal, welcome.  This is the table I envision.  This is the intention I set for my life and ministry.  Will I be perfect, nope.  Will it sometimes have to be expanded, yup.  But each day, I wake up and set my intention to work towards this vision of everyone around a great table. 

We are going to take a few minutes and set our own intention.  This is a practice that you can do every single day.  It is something you can do on the side of the bed, at the breakfast table, as you sit on the deck looking out over the lake.  When you do it at home, it is important to minimize distractions.  Silence the phones, turn off the tv, let your spouse keep sleeping, or even better, invite your spouse to silently set their intentions with you… you get the idea.  Remember setting your intention is not something that can be forced.  You can’t set an intention you don’t believe in. 

I’d like for you get comfortable.  Sit upright, with both feet firmly on the floor.  They are your roots, your link to the earth.  Now close your eyes.  Begin to breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose.  Exhaling with equal depth also through your nose. 

In, two three, four. Fully expanding your lungs, nice and deep all the way down, deep into your belly. 

Out, two three four. 


In, two three, four.

Out, two three four. 


When you feel as though you’ve settled into a calm, centered, and relaxed state, bring into your awareness the area of life you would like to transform.

Image for me your highest vision for this area of your life.  Really envision this as if it has already happened, and you are presently living in this reality.  How do you feel in this highest vision?  What are you doing?  Who is there with you?  What is happening around you?  What are the daily practices you have that will keep you anchored to this vision of who you are becoming?  Make this vision as compelling AND real as possible.  Your vision isn’t something that needs to be created – it already is exists within you.  It is already your heart’s desire.  You just need to access it, let it out, give it room to breathe.

In, two, three, four.

Out, two, three, four.


When you’ve spent some time breathing into the being-ness of living in your vision, ask God to show you a goal, the next step you will need to take in order to achieve in order to make that inner vision become reality.  Don’t jump ahead, just one step at a time, ask God to reveal these steps one at a time, in manageable little bites.  They way to eat an elephant after all is one bite at a time.

Now that you have that next step,  think about the things that will happen in you day, your week, that will help to bring about  moving you closer to living that vision you have in your heart.  What things in the day need to be skipped over or left out, as they don’t promote the vision?  Ask yourself, “What do I need to do this week to move me powerfully forward in my life, toward this vision?”

See those things, breathe them in and out.  Let the vision guide your steps.  Set the intention and let God be your guide.  Amen.







 When We're called to 'Come'


Matthew 14:22-33


22Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.25And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea.26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”28Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Interpretation of the Word


We’ve all heard the words spoken, “Come.  Come here.”  Children run along with delight in their eyes at the possibility of adventure; mothers and fathers drop what they are doing and go; spouses may go, but not before shouting back, “what do you need?;” teens look around the group to see what the others are doing before they make a decision to go.  Fishermen drop their nets and follow a carpenter who promises a mighty haul; sick and lame flock from far and wide to receive a healing touch.  When we are called to “come,” we have a variety of reactions. 

We go with wild abandon.

We go with hesitancy and fear.

We go after obtaining more information.

We go with dubious reluctance.

We go under the pressure of peers.

We go because we are called.

Jesus continues to call us to “come” today.  Have you heard him?  Have you heard Jesus calling you?  Calling you to step out of the boat and take a chance.  A chance to step out on faith and walk on water.  Can you imagine the feeling of stepping out of the boat?  Stepping towards Jesus and the life that he’s living.  Some steps seem easier than others.  Some steps are more daunting than ever.  Some steps seem like climbing Everest without packing gear, while other steps are a relaxing day at the beach.  The thing about taking steps though, is that you have to take initiative.  Steps don’t happen on their own.  We have to respond to the call.  We have to act.

John Ortberg, wrote a book in 2001 called If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat.  It is a book that takes readers on a journey of faith.  I enjoyed reading it the first time years ago, and rereading it this week.  In the introduction to the book Ortberg invites the reader to go on a walk. 

“The Bible, is among other things, a list of unforgettable walks. The first one was taken by God, who we are told, used to talk the garden I the cool of the day.  But as a general rule, God asked people to walk with him. … Perhaps the most unforgettable walk of all was taken by Peter the day he got out of a boat and walked on the water.  It is unforgettable not so much because of where he was walking as what he was walking on and who he was walking with.”

When God asks people to walk with him there is a consistent pattern, Ortberg suggests.  First, there is always a call, God ask an ordinary person, to engage in an act of extraordinary trust, that of getting out of the boat.  Second, there is ALWAYS fear.  With that fear, comes the ever sure reassurance.  God promises his presence.  Then there is a decision, sometimes it’s a yes and other times the fear is too great and the answer is no, or not right now.  Finally, no matter the response to the call, there is always a changed life.  Whether we get out of the boat or not, our lives are changed.  Whether we sit on the sidelines or get in the game, our lives are forever changed.  

We have to become as Ortberg suggests, “Water-walkers.”  In order to become water-walkers we may need to “do something religious.”  We may need to do something beyond our comfort zone.  We may need to get out of the boat.  As people who live on and around the lake, we may think it’s a bit crazy to step out of perfectly fine boats.  Why would we leave behind the safety of the boat?

Peter and his friends got into a little boat on afternoon to cross the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus wanted to be alone, so they were boating without him.  Peter didn’t mind – he’s been in boats his whole life, growing up hauling in fish for the family business.  He even liked boats.

But then… a storm blew in.  Not just a little wind and rain, but such a storm that the scripture describes that the boat was “tormented” by the waves.  The storm was so violent that the only things the disciples could co was attempt to keep the boat upright.  They weren’t attempting to travel across the Sea, they just wanted to not capsize in the middle of the night.  Really, the disciples just wanted to stay alive.

Then… out of the storm, out of the darkness, the disciples noticed a shadow moving toward them on the water.  As it got closer, it became apparent that it was a figure of a human being – walking on the water!  Say what!  Their eyes must be deceiving them.  They have been through so much with the storm raging around them, the waves crashing over the sides of the boat, we can imagine that they are delirious with exhaustion.  The disciples are terrified, thinking they’ve seen a ghost, they cry out.  While the other eleven in the boat cower in fear, Peter decides to “do something religious.”

Peter blurts out to the water-walker, “If it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”   Peter isn’t testing Jesus or taking a risk.  Peter is answering the call of Jesus to be obedient, even to the point of getting out of the boat and stepping out onto, not into, but ON TO the water.  Peter recognizes Jesus and says, if it’s you, call me to come to you and test MY obedience to you! (not the other way around). 

As I mentioned, and Ortberg describes throughout his book, God continues to call us to follow even today, to be obedient to God’s call on our lives.  It may not look like it did in the first century, but it is surely a call that we need to respond to.  If we saw Jesus coming to us out of the storm, if we suddenly gain insight into what Jesus is doing –the Lord is showing himself to us.  Jesus is inviting us to go on the adventure of a lifetime.  But at the same time, we’re scared to death.  What would you choose – the water or the boat? 

The boat is safe, secure and comfortable.

On the other hand, the water is rough.  The waves are high.  The wind is strong.  There’s a storm out there beyond the walls of our boats.  And if you get out of the boat – whatever your boat might happen to be – there’s a good chance you might sink. 

Both could certainly lead to death, but if you don’t get out of the boat, there’s a 100% certainty that you will never walk on water.  If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.  You’ve got to heed the call of Jesus to come.  Only one fully trusts in a God who calms the wind and the waves and the rain.

Let’s be honest for a moment.  THIS is terrifying.  The thought of leaving behind our boats, that which prevents us from fully submitting to God’s call, makes us hesitate, makes us reconsider what we’re contemplating.  Being obedient to the call of Jesus presses us beyond where we are comfortable.  It pushes us into places, situations, conversations that are not easy, that are not a day at the beach.  It is a call to live our faith boldly.  As terrifying as this may be, THIS is what we were made for.  We were made for something more than merely avoiding failure.  Deep down inside of you, there is something that WANTS to walk on the water.  You may want to deny it but there is a little light burning inside of you that wants to leave the comfort of a routine existence and abandon yourself to the excitement of adventure of following God. 

It is a call to live out our faith in a loving, graceful and caring God. It is a call to spread this love to all that we meet.  So I’m going to step out of my boat this morning.  I do not like to get political, although I’m human so it’s bound to happen, but in my mind this isn’t about politics, it’s about a deeper calling.  I believe people have the right to assemble, and even to counter-assemble.  But it is NOT ok to be violent, to fight and throw dangerous objects at one another.  I believe that people have the right to say what they want, even when I don’t agree with it.  But it NOT ok to run people over when we disagree.  I believe in mutual forbearance, that we can agree to disagree and that we can still pray for and care for one another even when we do not see eye to eye.  But it is NOT ok to look someone in the eye and spit on them and declare them worthless.  I believe this, because I see this in the scripture.  I see Jesus teaching this throughout his ministry. 

Jesus is calling us to stand up for the Gospel, the Good News.  Jesus’ call may not sound like a carpenter inviting us to travel the countryside to miracles and preach a message that was, and continues to be, countercultural and just a little radical, full of love and grace for all who believe.  I believe that Jesus is calling us to stand up against those who want to devalue any and all of God’s creation.  It is a call to speak out against the misuse of resources; against terrorizing one another; against racism, against hate, against injustice, against evil.  I believe we MUST be obedient to the call to love God and our neighbors, it is a call to do justice, and love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.  We have been invited to walk with God.  Invited into the journey, and do we have the faith to do that today?   Jesus is still calling us to come to him; to follow him; to trust in him.  When we are called to come, we have to get out of the boat.  Amen.




Enough for Everyone

Matthew 14:13-21 

 13Now when Jesus heard this, 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. 14When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15When 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.” 16Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19Then 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. 20And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.


Interpretation of the Word 


At first glance this passage seems to have a very clear message, doesn’t it.  So clear and important that it is the ONLY account of Jesus that is found in ALL four gospels and twice in Mark and Matthew.  So what is this clear as day message that jumps off the page at us in each Gospel for a total of six accounts?  That Jesus can do anything, even miraculously feed 5000 men along with women and children.  Right?  Maybe.  Maybe not. 


 In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, there were those who purposed that the miracle was that Jesus got the community to open up their pockets and share what they had brought.  That this wasn’t really about making 5 loaves and 2 fish literally feed 5000 plus people.  That by Jesus taking the loaves and fish the disciples had and sharing this meager amount with so many gathered, opened the hearts of those gathered, leading them to share what they had brought too.  We have this need to understand and rationalize where all the food came from, because surely 5 loaves and 2 fish do not feed over 5000 people.  So we rationalize that Jesus’ action of sharing led to and prompted others to bring forth what they have stashed away in their pouches.  Food, a little snack they were planning to keep for themselves, they are suddenly, because of Jesus’ actions, opening their bags and pulling out and passing around to those near them.


 I’m not saying that this isn’t a miracle, but what if the miracle is more than feeding, more than sharing, more than that…What if this is more about the miracle that takes place when Jesus, because of his compassion for those around him and his trust in God, sees possibilities where the disciples saw only limitations.  Jesus takes what IS there, gives thanks, and gives it away trusting that God will find it to be enough.


 I would like to ask you to look deeper into this text.  Let’s not take it at face value.  Let’s look at it with an eye for why Jesus is doing what he is doing and what it means for us in this day.  I would like to propose that this is not just about food instead that this is about God alone IS enough for everyone.  We see this in the compassion that Jesus has for the people, and in the way that Jesus trusts in God to be enough when there seem to be so little, that where we see scarcity, God sees and creates abundance.


 So first, we see that Jesus has compassion on the people who have gathered there.  The crowds have gathered in the place where Jesus has withdrawn to in order to grieve.  We didn’t read it his morning, but this passage comes after the account of the beheading of John the Baptist.  Jesus been informed of John’s gruesome death by those who followed John and so Jesus has withdrawn from the all of the activity.  He steps away, takes a moment to grieve the loss of his friend and cousin.  We’ve been there, we have lost loved ones, we know that we need space to heal; we need to take some time apart from all the activity.


 Even in his grief, Jesus has compassion for those who have sought him out.  He sees they too are grieving.  They may not be grieving the same loss, but they are still grieving and Jesus has compassion for them.  He heals those who have gathered there.  Jesus has compassion for those who have such a desperate need for healing that they followed him out to some deserted place.  They could not wait for Jesus to maybe return.  Jesus sees this, and has compassion on them.   


Jesus fulfills the call of the God of Israel to care for God’s own people.  Healing them and feeding them. 


As the day came to a close and the sun was nearing the edge of the horizon, the disciples’ stomachs begin to grumble and they suggest, no they tell Jesus that he should send these people away to find their own meals.  But Jesus realized that these folks would need to eat too.  Jesus more than likely realized that even if there was a nearby town, which there was likely not, that town would not have an open market where they would find something to eat, nor were they likely to be able to afford something even if there was a nearby market.  So Jesus tells the disciples to give the people gathered something to eat. 


 You can maybe imagine the disciples grumbling at this point.  “What does he think we are magicians!?  Why didn’t these people bring their own food? Where does he think we are going to get enough food for ALL these people?!  Wasn’t healing them enough?  Now we have to feed them too.  This is impossible.  This is insanity.”  The disciples, in their grumble, say to Jesus,  “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” Silently implying: Clearly NOT enough for everyone!


Which brings us to what I would like to suggest is the second deeper meaning this passage.  Jesus trusts in God to be enough when there seem to be so little, that where we see scarcity, God sees and creates abundance.


Jesus uses the disciples, even when they would rather look after themselves, to tend the needs of these thousands of men, women, and children. Using words and actions foreshadowing the Last Supper, Matthew depicts what happens when you move from a worldview of scarcity – “we have nothing here but five loaves and fishes” – to one of abundance – “thank you, God, for these five loaves and fishes.” Whatever their initial skepticism, or doubt, or self-preoccupation, the disciples are caught up in Jesus words of abundance and gratitude and distribute what they have and participate in the wonder and joy that “all ate and were filled.” God used even these reluctant disciples, that is, to care for the poor and hungry that God loves so much.


When I worked with the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank, I went to the annual Food Sourcing Conference in Chicago each year.  One year, the theme of the conference was centered on fresh produce and how Food Banks, traditionally pretty scarce on fresh would move from scarcity to abundance.  The national office of Feeding America knew, through research and conversation with donors, that there was a HUGE gap and that amount of fresh food that was being wasted was astronomical.  Feeding America went to their donors, financial and food, and promised that with their help, they were going to change this HUGE gap and make waste into food for those most in need of a highly perishable product.  I won’t bore you with the details of how we did this, but I can tell you that as a national network, they increased their distribution nearly 500% in just 2 years.  There were partnerships with farmers, with farm markets, with trucking companies, with retailers, all developed to move and distribute millions of pounds of produce.  Where there was once scarcity of fresh produce, an abundance was created.  But it took trusting that everyone would come together, would work for something bigger than their bottom line.  They had to take a chance on something that few, maybe none, had ever done before.   


 We are often tempted to think that what we, as Christians, as Church, have to offer is not enough to compete with everything else the world has to offer.  But if Jesus is telling us anything this morning, it is that GOD alone is enough for everyone.  God promises to take what we offer with thanksgiving and use it, stretch it, even multiply it to make sure it’s enough. Enough for us, enough for those around us.  If there is enough, then we have moved from scarcity to abundance and we have plenty to share.  God’s love, compassion and grace is not something that is going to run out, we are not going to get to the end of it and have to ration that last little drop. 


 One of the things I love about coming to the Table is that there is always enough.  Have you ever noticed that we never run out.  There has not been a week when we run out? We bless the bread and the wine and there is enough.  There is plenty to renew each and every one of us, and more.  God always provides us with enough.  Enough grace to come to this table and be renewed by the healing power of the love of God shown to us in the gift of Jesus Christ’s life death and resurrection.  We partake in this meal, sharing it with millions around the globe remembering that God’s love is more than enough.  It is everything.  


 The miracle of God being enough continues today!  When a college-grad eschews a high-paying job in order to teach disadvantaged kids, God’s miracles continue. When a parent puts dreams of an academic career to the side to care for a special-needs child, God is working that same kind of miracle. When a church makes the wrenchingly difficult decision to celebrate its century of faithful service and close its doors after significant decline in order that another ministry might flourish, miracles abound. When one student stands up against bullies in defense of another student, the God of compassion is again miraculously revealed. When a fledgling community of faith makes a promise that no one that comes to its doors will be turned away hungry, God is still at work performing miracles through disciples eager, reluctant, and everything in between, miracles that easily rival those reported in today’s reading.


 I would like to remind you that ‘You are enough.  We are enough. This is enough.  God is not done doing good to us and for us and through us.’  Amen. 

June 24, 2018


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