the one about abundance
July 27, 2015, 10:13 AM

Sermon from July 26, 2015

Sermon Text: John 6: 1-21

Grace and peace to you from God our father and our Lord and savior who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, it’s that weird time during this year of the lectionary that even though we’ve been reading and learning a lot from Mark’s Gospel, we take a little detour for five or so weeks and dive into John’s Gospel.

I want y’all to think for a bit and imagine if you were in a similar situation as Jesus and his disciples were in this gospel story.

Here’s the setup or the ‘too long didn’t read’ version – Jesus is teaching. There are a LOT of people. At one count there were 5000 ‘people’ which at this time didn’t normally include women and children, just the men were counted. So, lots of people.

And the guy in charge looks to you and says, “So, how are we going to feed all these people?”

I don’t know about you, but that would freak me out. Why are you asking me? I’m here to listen to you! I thought you had this stuff figured out!

I think that’s pretty much Philip’s thought process as Jesus asked him that very same question. We don’t even have enough money to feed them a little bit, how do you expect me to answer that question? Then, Andrew says – 'well there’s this kid here who has a small lunch, but really that’s all we’ve got.'

What I love most about this story is not only the miracle that is about to happen in the feeding of these thousands with just a little. That’s pretty spectacular and shows the power and goodness that is in our Lord Jesus who is our Christ.

But, what I think is most amazing about this gospel story is the difference between how the ‘world’ thinks and how the kingdom of God operates.

You see, when we are put into a similar situation we tend to think about what we don’t have. We don’t have enough. We won’t be able to provide. We’ve got to think about ourselves first before those out there.

No matter where you look in our world today from advertisements, TV shows, books, internet postings, you see this practice of scarcity being played out. There is this thought that we don’t have enough, so we must look out for me and mine first before we care about that person next to me.

There’s only one really huge issue with that. The world likes to make us think that we never have enough. We don’t have enough food, we don’t have enough money, or toys, or clothes, or prestige, or clout. No matter how much we accumulate the world will always tell us that we don’t yet have enough. That we need more. That before we can help out that person over there (which the powers at be in the world will want you to take pity on someone rather than compassion remember), you need to have just a bit more. A bit more so then you can help out your family, maybe a really close friend, a cause you care for, and that’s pretty much about it.

Do y’all ever get that sense from interacting out in the world? What makes it so tempting to fall into is because it’s sometimes pretty good advice. Makes good financial sense to be a little secure before you can help those in need.

Well, if we haven’t figured it out yet – Jesus does a lot of things that don’t usually make much sense to the world. As the disciples and others are seemingly brimming with anxiety about how to feed all these people, Jesus blesses and passes out such a little amount of food that it might have been seen as an insult to the more than 5000 people gathered there.

Of course, the miracle and sign at play is that with Jesus there is enough. That in Jesus there is always enough.

That little insult of food filled the bellies of those over 5000 gathered. There was so much that 12 baskets of leftovers were gathered. That’s pretty amazing!

You see, I read this story and I love this story not so much because of the miracle and sign of this great feeding, but because I’m reminded again how much I probably don’t trust what Jesus offers that much. I don’t trust that in Jesus there is not only enough – but that there is an ABUNDANCE.

What would our lives look like if we lived with the thought of abundance in our mind and hearts? What I mean by that is not that miraculously a plate of food is going to end up on your doorstep or God will bless you with the winning lottery tickets, or send you a huge client simply because you’ve got faith and a ‘strong faith’ in God. I’ll leave that to the prosperity gospel preachers.

No, what I mean by living in abundance is realizing that we do have enough. We have so much of an abundance in Christ that we’re able to help those in need with food, care, finances, time, relationship, and more. We have such an abundance in our life that we are able to share in that abundance with others.

What would that life look like? That’d be pretty good wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it be great if we just didn’t worry about all the material trappings of our life, where we didn’t have to worry about keeping up with others, being content with what we have and out of that abundance to be with and share with others?

Now imagine if everyone thought that way. What’s so wonderful about living into this life of abundance that Christ models for us this morning is that everyone is caring and sharing with all. That means that all of us are being provided for simply because we are all caring in, compassionate for, and being in relationship with one another because of Christ’s gift of abundant life in each of us.

What would our lives look like if we lived that way? How would we as the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer look if we lived into that life of abundance? Fretting less about what we don’t have and being thankful for the abundance that we do have that we get to share with those in our community of Newberry.

I wanted to end this sermon with a wonderful story of abundance that I heard about that happened at the National Youth Gathering in Detroit, MI last week. I was told this story by our bishop, Herman Yoos and I thought it was wonderful and truly lives into this life of abundance in all that we have.

The youth from South Carolina (along with thousands of others from around the country) helped clean up quite a few blocks of neighborhoods in disrepair. Adding to the work that has already been done in Detroit by residents and others. Anyways, as they worked two kids from that neighborhood asked if they could help too.

Of course, the group let them in – it is their neighborhood after all – and, there was an abundance of work to be done. But, that isn’t what is so special about this story.

No, after the work was done that day. It would’ve been tempting to say to those young men, “Thanks for your work with us! See ya later!” No one would fault the group for doing that right? No, instead they asked them if they’d like to join in the worship and experience at Ford Field that night.

They didn’t pay. They didn’t sign-up to go. They didn’t do all the stuff that those other youth did for three years in their respective communities in order to come to Detroit. But, that didn’t matter. And I’m so happy that it did NOT matter.

No, living into abundance the group thought, there is enough room for them too. They get to experience this as well. They too are in this together with us and us with them. We are all the body of Christ.

That’s living into the life of abundance that is gifted to us from our Lord Jesus who is the Christ. Looking at what we have, what others have, what we all have to offer and saying – “Yeah, there’s abundance here. This is – we are – enough. Let’s share in Christ.” Amen!

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