SERMON: ‘More Than Enough!’
Aug. 6, 2023
Rev. Jane Courtright
While I was in seminary,
I took a class titled ‘Intro to Counseling.’
The essential secret is good listening!
I remember being taught
That the most important things
someone wanted to share would come out
near the end of time spent together.
I have found this to be generally true!
When visiting people in Nursing or retirement homes,
or those confined mostly to their homes,
It’s after people share their pictures & momentos,
it’s after the prayer I offer before I depart,
that important issues or concerns are voiced.
I’ve been trying to improve my listening skills
all of my life!
Let’s listen with fresh ears to
today’s story of the feeding of the 5000
Is the only miracle included in all 4 gospels in our Bible.
It’s told twice in the Gospels of Mark & Matthew!
In these stories of the feeding of the 5000,
there are hints of Communion:
Jesus followed the form of the Communion Service
we’ll share today.
Jesus takes the bread, blessed it,
thanks God for it, breaks it & shares it.
This event convinced so many people
that Jesus was someone VERY special.
Somehow or other, 5 barley loaves & 2 fish
became a meal enough to feed all those people.
Barley loaves were the food of the poor.
Yet, this food from the poorest of people was enough!
Jesus was always concerned
about the needs of the people he encountered,
Often sensing people without focus,
not really knowing where they were going.
People who NEEDED spiritual food.
In today’s Gospel,
Jesus sees people who are physically hungry.
So, he satisfies the need of those people.
We know from the pyramid of human needs
that it’s hard for physically hungry people
to listen, understand or learn.
This is the reason that free or reduced breakfast,
& lunch programs were started at public schools!
It’s why there are Food Pantries, like ours at C 0f P!
Mahatma Ghandi once said,
“There are people in the world so hungry
that God cannot appear to them
except in the form of bread!”
Later in the Gospels,
after their immediate needs are met,
Jesus offers them the ‘Bread of Life.’
But today, Jesus sees people who are hungry.
He feeds them with life nourishing bread:
Bread which is broken, blessed & shared.
Bread which symbolizes his body & his ministry.
Communion is a unique time of blessing
for anyone who shares it,
because you are gifted with food
which meets your physical & spiritual hunger.
YOU are gifted with the Bread of Life.
The feeding of the 5000
happened during springtime,
when there is an abundance of grass in Israel.
The times I visited Israel/Palestine
(always during summer)
There wasn’t a lot of grass.
It only rains between October & April in that area.
But aaaah……spring time!
There’s an over-abundance in the spring time,
with new plants, flowers, leaves, buds
& baby animals!
The feeding of the 5000
was also about over-abundance.
Remember, in the end,
there wasn’t just enough food
to satisfy everyone’s hunger,
There was enough food left over
to fill an extra 12 baskets!
We’ll never know exactly WHAT happened
as all those people were fed.
There are many interpretations.
Some think of the event
as a kind of supernatural miracle.
5 loaves of bread & 2 fish, touched by Jesus,
& miraculously multiplied, able to feed 1000’s!
Others believe that everyone simply shared
what little they had brough with them,
whether a small or large offering
and everyone was satisfied.
In the Gospel of John,
the people were inspired to share
when a small boy offered to share his supper.
In a world where we are all apt to hold
tight to what is ours,
and painfully slow to share,
THAT would be as amazing a miracle as any!
I once read a wonderful story
about a Lutheran synod meeting!
The evening before the meeting,
terrible storms blew through the area.
(sounds a lot like the storm
we had a few weeks ago!!!)
The city lost electrical power.
Evidence of the storm was all around.
Whole oak trees had been pulled up by their roots.
The power did click on in some places at 1 a.m..
Unfortunately, the hotel in which the synod mtg.
was to be held was STILL without power.
700 Lutherans would be driving into town
in just a few hours.
How would they feed them all with no power?
They called every Lutheran church in town
& asked them to put out a call for charcoal grills.
They planned to set the grills up
on the football field & make sure everyone was fed!
Augustana College in Rock Island, Il.,
had everything well in hand!
When the organizers arrived a little before 7 a.m.,
the power WAS ON,
although they were just minutes away from renting
a refrigerated truck to preserve the food!
In the end, 700 Lutherans were fed
in the usual way that weekend,
having no idea how close they came
to being part of a miracle much like the one
that those who followed Jesus
experienced so long ago!
Jesus, the Wonder Bread of life, said often,
“If you have eyes, use them.
And if you have ears,
listen and hear the truth.”
Let’s work on seeing & listening,
even as we continue to journey through this
After all, when we work with God,
we can throw out the expected!
We can dream big dreams
whatever our situation
and with whatever we have available.:
God, that Force of Good in the universe,
uses whenever or whatever is available!
Is there a story in YOUR life when God
worked with the little you had
to do something amazing and powerful?
Theologian & author Frederich Buechner
wrote that God is found in the stories of our lives.
When we find God, we find truth,
no matter where on our life’s journey that may be!
As we say in the United Church of Christ,
“Whoever you are, wherever you are
on life’s journey, YOU ARE WELCOME HERE!
May the Force be with you as you journey! Amen