Good morning everyone and welcome to St. Andrews Lutheran Church in Kamloops BC. Those of you watching on the livestream welcome to our church family.
Pastor Marc is taking a holiday and we wish him a very well-deserved rest. Today I will be delivering the message as best as I am able, as Pastor Marc has some big shoes to fill!
Today’s readings are all about food, and faith. The miracle of the five thousand being fed with five small barley loaves and two fish, the feeding of one hundred with 20 loaves of bread, the promise that God will feed those at the proper time.
Food is a communal and spiritual ritual with us. The family dinner where we gather and talk about the day’s events. We go visit our friends to spend time with them and food is always a part of our social interaction. All our social functions revolve around food like weddings or reunions. It is an important and integral part of our lives where the body and the spirit are nourished and restored.
It has been made holy by Jesus our Lord through communion.
When confronted with the challenge of delivering a sermon it requires the individual to look deeper than the actual words and find true meaning. With scripture, it seems multiple meanings can be found in the same passages. The Bible is the most efficient communication device known to us packing reams of information in just a few words. It is an important lesson to us on just how much God does with so truly little.
I thought about this in that God does more with less and people seem to do less with more. This is especially true when it comes to food. It recalls how unused food is not allowed to be donated to the food banks and simply thrown out. It recalls how some have so much, and others so little. As a species, we are wasteful and selfish. I wonder if this is a great sin we are guilty of that does not get the attention it deserves.
Fortunately, we are Lutheran and by our very nature waste little, especially food.
Jesus feeds the five thousand with the original fish and bread but also sets another example by ordering the gathering of the remainder of the bread into baskets after the five thousand have eaten.
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
Not only does Jesus teach us that we will be provided for, but also not to waste what has been given.
Of course, the scripture all comes down to a lack of faith. It comes down to fear which in which this fallen World is the best teacher.
Before I get into this subject, please let me admit this is one aspect of my own character that I truly wrestle with each day. I am specifically talking about the basics, the fear of not having enough to get by. I worry about not having enough in my old age, or not enough to provide for my family. I worry about not being able to leave something behind when I exit the planet to enrich the lives of my children.
I literally despise myself for this inherent weakness that I have.
I must believe almost all of us face this fear daily. Yet when I read these passages, if I truly had faith that God will provide why would I worry? Because clearly, I am just like the disciples from the scripture.
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Philip goes as far as quantifying the amount of money it would take to feed the five thousand. Philip is thinking in the terms of the World, as I do every day. He does not know any better as this is what the World has taught him. The World has taught him logistics and limitations because the World tells you this is all there is so take care of yourself and your own first. Philip, like me, needs to learn a valuable lesson about God.
Jesus further illustrates this in Matthew 6:26
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
If there is one thing, I hope to achieve in my short tenure on this earth is to gain the faith that God will provide the things I need like food and shelter. I have countless examples in my life where God has indeed provided when I needed it most. God has always been there for me, even when I wandered away.
Just recently I was confronted with an awful situation that had enormous risk attached to it. I am an electrician at a large oil producing plant. A component that provided power feedback had failed in a high voltage breaker that provided power to the very core of the operation.
In order to repair it I had to swing power away to another power source. The power is set up to automatically transfer between two different power supplies in case one fails. Normally this would not be a problem, but the failure of that specific component might cause the switch to fail and therefore lose all power to the process. We are talking about a loss of approximately 21 million dollars plus unknown serious safety hazards created elsewhere in the process.
There is also a personal safety element to this in the case of rapidly closing and opening breakers which has an explosive effect.
While power was in place leaving the problem alone was not an option as it did not have the capability of auto transferring. Summer weather guaranteed the risk was high with lightning strikes.
As it was, my colleague and I made all the right moves and restored the power system to full operation. I must believe God was with me that day because failure would likely have meant my employment there to end. No employment means no groceries or rent paid. Finding other employment would be a challenge at my age.
I need to learn that God is far greater than the rules of this world and limitations do not exist for God. I need to trust God with my welfare. I need to learn a lot. I am sure after seeing the five thousand fed and cared for, Philip learned a great deal.
As I was looking over the scripture, I ask myself what else am I missing? I let my mind wander. I let go of any distractions I had and sat there and meditated. I have a theory that most answers come to a mind that is open and undistracted much like dreams. Then it came to me.
In each case a donor appeared with a small amount of food to start the miracle. With Jesus and his disciples, it was a small boy who happened to have 5 loaves of bread and two fish. We do not know who the boy was or why he had the bread and fish. No doubt seeing the problem with the large crowd the disciples had asked around to see what people had with them and this boy had volunteered what he had.
Then there was the man from Bal Shalishah who came with twenty loaves of bread. Elisha the prophet was at the time in a place called Gilgal which was experiencing a famine. We do not know if he was asked, or merely came of his own accord. A gift for the prophet Elisha no doubt. What does Elisha do? “Give it to the people” he says. The man balks at giving so little to the 100 men that had gathered there. Elisha tells him God will provide more than what these men can eat, and so it was.
What this tells us is that a selfless act of giving or sharing started the miracle. God takes this act and makes it much more than it was. As my original thought, God does more with less, we do less with more.
What ultimately do we learn from all this? Give a little bit, do a selfless act and God will take that act and build on it a thousand, a million-fold. If enough of us did that there would be no hunger in this world.
I usually do give change to someone who asks for it, but not always. I could give more to the Red Cross. What is important is that you give it willingly. If you need it for yourself to pay the rent hey that is ok, pay your rent. Maybe in better times remember your own struggles and give a bit.
I realize now that every time I did give, I became less Philip and more Jesus. What did I get out of this? I got what I really want, which is to be generous rather than small and afraid, maybe even a small bit worthy in the eyes of God. There is something to be said about confronting one’s fears and emerging stronger, better.
The next time you ignore a beggar, or do not donate to a charity of your choosing and you could give a bit, remember the five thousand. Just think of how God will amplify what you gave.
Have faith that God will provide for you your daily needs. The evidence is right here in these pews. How else do you think we are so blessed with plenty to eat and a roof over our heads?
If enough of us on this earth change our ways and give a little bit to someone else with God amplifying the gifts we might just be all right after all. It is a fulfillment of the law that God has charged us to follow. Love God with all your heart and mind and love one another as Jesus loved you.
This city that we live in is a great example of this spirit. Kamloops is a city of conscience. When the federal government asked; Kamloops welcomed the homeless housing additions to the city. It is well known among the homeless in town that you will never starve here, there will always be food. This is an integral part of the character of Kamloops.
That is a character to this city that Jesus will approve of, and it likely contributes to our well being here. Look no further than a 15-minute downpour that dumped 1cm of rain that saved an entire subdivision from burning to the ground. Think that was chance? I do not.
Go now and be generous. Give a little something if you can. Stand a bit taller, a bit braver, a bit more worthy of the sacrifice Jesus made for you. And best of all a bit more defiant of the fallen world around you.
Copyright © 2021 St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, Kamloops
We are a family of followers of Christ, who learn and share the Good News of Salvation, making disciples of Jesus Christ.
We hold weekly Sunday morning services at 10:30 am. We also host a Bible Study each Sunday morning at 09:30 am and on Tuesday afternoon at 1:00 pm. Please join us.
Our music team plays from a repertoire of many hundreds of Christian songs and Hymns, occasionally with new arrangements of traditional and contemporary selections.