Gospel (Matthew 14:13-21) and Sermon

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(Transcript automatically generated.)

The holy gospel
according to matthew the 14th chapter
now when jesus heard about the beheading
of john the baptist
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
when he went ashore he saw a great crowd
and he had compassion for them and cured
their sick
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 jesus said
to them
they need not go away you give them
something to eat they replied
we have nothing here but five loaves and
two fish
and he said bring them here to me
then he ordered the crowds to sit down
on the grass
taking the five loaves and the two fish
he looked up to heaven blessed
and broke the loaves and gave them to
the disciples
and the disciples gave them to the
crowds
and all eight 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 the gospel of the lord
praise to you lord christ
there is so much that we can learn about
the nature
of jesus from this very short passage
perhaps the most commonly accessible one
is that this is a clear metaphor for the
church
this is jesus modeling to the disciples
how the gospel works and what it looks
like
jesus give thanks to god
recognizes that all things all gifts
come from god
and then jesus passes on
nourishment that which makes us strong
the bread of life so to speak and
shares it with the disciples and then
charges
the disciples to go out and give that
same
life-sustaining gift to all the people
who are gathered to anyone and everyone
who has come
free of charge and that gift of life
goes to men goes to women
goes to children people do not have to
do
anything for it they don’t have to go
back to their home back to the city
and pay for this they instead receive it
as a free gift
starting to make sense yet of course
this is the embodiment of the theology
of grace
at the time that this was written
blessings were still
purchased at temples how much money you
were able to give
was absolutely equated with
how much favor you received at the
temple
whether that was in any of the
religions of these areas of rome
and of its territories and even
within the jewish system we still see
even stories in jesus youth of mary and
joseph needing to
offer small birds for the sacrifice to
be able to
take jesus to the temple so
we see that this is a radical
reconceiving
of what religious and spiritual
community means
it means that jesus empowers and equips
the disciples and the disciples
are sent out in the world to share
that good news that life-giving
sustenance
that gives us eternal life with anyone
and everyone
who’s willing to come free of charge
no conditions and that everyone is
indeed included in that grace
men women children anyone who is there
it’s a beautiful vision of church and i
think very helpful
but there’s a few other small things
that we can also learn
from how the kingdom of god works and
how jesus love
works from this passage
we see some wording that may be familiar
that jesus lifts up the bread breaks it
from our communion ritual
we gather as a a worship centered
community that’s what we’re missing the
most right now in this time right
gathering together to worship
but this passage reminds us that there
is another
holy sacred communion-based way
of being church and that is being sent
out into the world worship is
such an important part of what we do it
sustains
us it teaches us it allows us to
practice a form of religious discipline
but it is one part
of how we are the body of christ the
gathering
is one part but the sending
is just as important
going out into the community sharing
the gifts of the word of the good news
of jesus life-sustaining love that is
just as much a part of what we are
called to
as children of christ as the gathering
and having our own souls nourished
the disciples that’s us
we are given these wonderful gifts
but just like the disciples in this
story
we are chosen we are charged we are
challenged to go forth
and to make sure that we are sharing in
the world around us
with anyone and everyone who will come
i don’t think it’s a coincidence that
the same words that are used in
communion
are used here to remind us
that communion the gathering together of
people
is something we do in our building and
something that we do in our
neighborhoods
our workplaces our family dinners
the streets the community wherever we
may find ourselves
in this story we also see the famous
reference to feeding the five thousand
that’s rather an old-fashioned way of
referring to it because if you notice
it’s 5 000 men and
also women and children
so 5 000 was actually only a fraction of
who was gathered
this could have been more like 10 or
even 20
000 people but what matters is that it
was
inclusive you see there were many
religious and spiritual spaces at that
time
that were only allowed only open
to men to heads of the family to
property owners
and we have done that same thing in our
own country
created laws created spaces that
excluded some
but allowed others jesus is
very clear and very intentional
about ensuring that everyone is named
in this beautiful story no one is left
out
and at the very beginning the opposite
end of this story
when it begins jesus is entirely
alone not gathered with 20
000 people but actually getting into a
boat
and sailing away to get away from the
land
but even then it’s because jesus wants
to grieve
the death of a friend john the baptist
john was also an outsider
someone who had a lot of stigma
who wasn’t necessarily loved by law
enforcement who wasn’t necessarily loved
by the community
he was kind of quirky and dirty and
you know not the not the most fun and
friendly individual at parties i’m sure
but jesus loved him that was jesus
friend
jesus cousin that was someone who was
part of the faithful
and so jesus took the time to care about
that individual
and that is the beautiful juxtaposition
of jesus that we see in this story
jesus cares about each and every one of
us
cares for us all in a huge group that no
one is left out of
but jesus also cares about and knows
the individual we are called into the
wider world
and we are given the gift of a gospel
that applies to every single person
and we are also known and seen
and loved and cared about
just as you with all your flaws and
quirks and imperfections
and rough days and great days and
challenges
and moments of being discouraged or
frustrated
you are known you are named
and you are loved
this is a kingdom of god
that i’m happy to be a part of
one that is centered in worship that is
grounded in community
but one that is also called to be
sent out into the world the space where
we are mostly in now
and like all things will come circle
again
it is a church of inclusion
and welcome it is also a place
where you can feel seen and valued
as an individual so my thought
my challenge my hope for you this week
is that when you need it you will get in
your boat
whatever that means to you take the time
that you need
to grieve to breathe to be
and that you will also recognize that
being sent into the world
in this strange way that we are right
now
is a form of worship it is an
opportunity
to be church and that as long as we are
going out
in our communities in whatever way we
are called
in whatever way we are equipped with our
unique gifts and talents
that by sharing the good news by sharing
generosity love
and compassion we are part of the body
of christ
we are joined with the people that we
sit next to in the pews
we are all carriers of the bread of life
and whether we’re here or spread out in
the world
feeding others we are never
ever alone
amen amen