Grace to you and peace from God Our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pastor Melvin Dick
the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
once heard Lutheran historian Martin E. Marty say that if American civilization
ever collapsed he would blame its fall on McDonald's for destroying the ancient
tradition of the shared family meal.
human beings eat in order to live; our bodies require the nourishment provided
by food to stay alive. But
maintaining individual life is not the only purpose of eating.
We eat to create community life. We
eat together in order to bring us together.
When food is shared, life is shared.
Dating couples dine together in nice restaurants as part of their
courtship. Wedding anniversaries,
class reunions, and athletic award ceremonies are celebrated with a banquet.
Friends, who have lost touch with one another, renew their acquaintance
over lunch or dinner. Munching a bag
of Tostitos while standing over the kitchen sink will keep you alive; but it
will not bind you and friends or family together as a community.
Marty's tongue-in-cheek comment was pointing to the same truth as this morning's
this story, a crowd became a congregation by sharing a meal hosted by Jesus.
Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been executed, he and his disciples
retreated to some isolated place. But
crowds of people, who had heard about his preaching, teaching, and healing,
followed him. Out of compassion,
Jesus spent the day curing those who were broken by sickness.
When evening fell, the disciples realized that the crowd had not eaten.
They urged Jesus to dismiss the people so that they could scatter
throughout neighboring villages and buy food for the evening meal.
In response Jesus, said, "They need not go away; you give them
something to eat." But the
disciples did not have the provisions to do this:
they came up with only five loaves of bread and two fish.
the five loaves and the two fish, [Jesus] looked up to heaven, and blessed and
broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to
the crowds. And all ate and were
filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets
full. And those who ate were about
five thousand men, besides women and children."
crowd of people--presumably mostly strangers to one another--came together for
one purpose: to see and hear Jesus.
When it came time to feed them, the disciples would have broken up the
assembly, scattered the community, sent the people away as individuals.
The disciples would have broken up the people in order to feed them.
But Jesus fed them in order to keep them together.
everyone was filled and satisfied, the left-overs were gathered, the broken
pieces of bread collected into twelve
baskets. The broken fragments of
bread are like the broken people gathered together by Jesus.
you note the number of baskets? Twelve.
That number twelve ties this story to the story of Israel and the story
of the Church.
beloved people Israel were divided into twelve
tribes. And they truly were divided.
Because of their own willful disobedience and persecution by enemies, the
twelve tribes of Israel were hardly ever a united and unified community of the
faithful. They were a deeply divided
people, literally scattered to the four points of the compass.
Similarly, God's beloved people the Church were founded on the witness of
the twelve apostles.
And the Church was and is as divided as Israel.
Because of our own willful disobedience and persecution by our enemies,
we descendants of the twelve apostles are hardly ever a united and unified
community of the faithful. We were
and are a deeply divided people, literally scattered to the four points of the
compass. This is true for the
world-wide church, and for every congregation in it.
is not how the Lord wishes us to live--not as families, not as congregations,
not as a universal Church. We are
not a crowd, not a divided and dispersed mob.
We are instead a local and world-wide congregation, a community of
believers, a congregation of former strangers assembled to hear and see Jesus,
and to share a meal with him and one another.
And having shared his meal, we will share his life.
crowd which had come together to hear and see Jesus were filled and satisfied by
him when they shared the meal which he had blessed and distributed.
Like the broken fragments of bread which afterwards were gathered into
twelve baskets, the broken fragments of these people's lives were gathered
together into Christ. When this
happened, the crowd was no longer a crowd, no longer an accidental aggregation
of strangers. It was a congregation;
a community of faithful worshipers who had seen and heard Jesus in the breaking
of bread, in the sharing of a common meal.
so are you.
you notice the verbs in the story of Jesus’ feeding?
He took, blessed, broke, and gave.
This is Eucharistic language, the words repeated over the bread and wine
in the Prayer of Thanksgiving. This
story of the Feeding of the More-than-Five Thousand is clearly a Biblical
interpretation of the meal which we the Church share with Jesus.
It is an explanation about what happens to you in the Holy Communion.
When you share the meal which Jesus has blessed and distributed to you,
you become a united and unified community. When
you eat together, you are brought together.
When you share Jesus' food, you share his life, and you share each
other's lives. By sharing a meal
hosted by Jesus, you are not a fragmented crowd; you are the Church.
And I mean “the Church” in the most breathtaking sense possible.
the funeral of a friend’s mother, the preacher said in the sermon that when we
came to the Eucharistic table that day, our sister—dead to us, but alive in
Christ—would be sharing that meal with us, except that she would be on the
other side of the table, as it were. He
could say that because in the New Testament the coming Kingdom of God is often
portrayed as a splendid meal, as a banquet.
When you eat this morning, you are not eating alone; you are eating with
the Risen Jesus and therefore with all the believers who are in him, all who
have come before you, all those now scattered around the world, and all those
not yet born. This is a meal which
knows no boundaries of time and space. As we sing in the Offertory, “Grace our
table with your presence, and give us a foretaste of the feast to come”.
The feast to come is the feast of the Kingdom, at which you and all the
saints have a reserved place.
can a simple meal consisting of a morsel of bread and a sip of wine have such
transcendent power? The story of the
Feeding of the More-than-Five Thousand is, after all, the story of a miracle
performed by Jesus—a miracle so all-encompassing that it includes you.
the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.