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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Faith is a moving target

Sorry folks, no audio for this one, forgot my recorder at home.

My sermon was based on John 6:1-21, however.

I want you to imagine something.  I want you to imagine the scene of the Feeding of the 5000, the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes.

One of the best-known stories in all of Christendom, it is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels.  This ought to tell you it has something important to say.

So I want you to imagine the scene: late afternoon/early evening on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.  Warm breezes, a nice sunset, perhaps.  5000 people gathered together (for those of you who worked at the Maxville Highland Games this weekend, there were 5000 people there, just to help you visualize).  Imagine being seated on the grass with everyone else.

Who are you in that story?  When you picture yourself, who are you?

Without fail, people always respond, "One of the crowd".

Wrong.

We are actually supposed to see ourselves as Jesus in this passage.

Let me explain why.

There are two possible interpretations of what happened that day:

1. The line that Christianity seems to have traditionally taken, that Jesus, through the power of God, magically and miraculously multiplied the loaves and fishes.

2. That Jesus set an example for the crowd by sharing their meager fare, thus allowing an opening for a spirit of generosity to flow throughout the crowd, those of whom who had brought food sharing with those who had neglected to.

Either way, one could say a miracle happened, because is generosity any less of a miracle than the multiplication of food would be?

And then Jesus gets up and leaves.  His work there was supposed to have been done.  His lesson was transmitted, and the crowd was supposed to have figured it out and gone and done likewise, but they did not.

The problem is one of comfort.  Not unlike some churches, the crowd just wanted to be with Jesus, to live in that bubble of his teaching and charisma, to bask in his presence, and quite possibly to have someone do the thinking and the acting for them.

But the problem is that ministry exists out there.  Ministry is something that can happen in a church, for sure, but for the most part, we are literally preaching to the choir.

North American churchgoers need to realize that they are no longer the recipients of the message of Christ, they are the ministers of said message.  We are not supposed to bask in Jesus, we are supposed to do what he did.

Jesus gave of what he had and that is what we are called to do.  We are called to minister to the needs outside our walls, outside our churches, in our communities, in our world.

The world is hungry and thirsty.  Jesus did not stay in one place and feed a small group of people forever and ever.  He fed them, equipped them for ministry, and asked them do as he did.

I hope we are prepared, willing and able to do the same.

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