McFarland

9th Sunday of Pentecost August 2, 2020

Readings

First Reading:Isaiah 55:1-5
Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21
Second Reading: Romans 9:1-5
Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21

Prayer of the Day:

Gracious God, your generosity waters the world with goodness, and you cover creation with abundance. Awaken in us a hunger for the food that satisfies both body and spirit, and with this food fill all the starving world; through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Hymns of the Day

If you don’t have hymnals at home,
look up the hymns on YouTube or other websites.

All Who Hunger Gather Gladly (ELW 461)

Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness (ELW 843)

Lord, Whose Love in Humble Service (ELW 712)

Taste and See (Paul Balouche)

“Let All Who Are Thirsty, Come” (Taize)

Reflection on Matthew 14:13-21

by Pastor Tim Dean

More than Enough

Do we have enough? That’s the question that comes to my mind when I hear this gospel story of the feeding of the hungry crowd.

Jesus goes away by himself when he gets the news about the murder of his relative and friend, John the Baptist. He is grieving, feeling sadness and perhaps anger at the violent death of the one who had baptized him.

Yet even though he goes away to be alone, people find him. It is amazing to me that even as he experiences a deep grief, Jesus responds to the crowd. He doesn’t turn them away, taps into compassion from somewhere deep within himself. Jesus uses this compassion to heal those who are sick.

Then the disciples come to him to send the crowds away to buy some food. But Jesus turns the order back on his disciples: “You give them something to eat.” (14:16)

How do the disciples respond? “We don’t have enough.”

They tell Jesus, “All we have is a lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fish.” (14:17) “How are we going to feed all these hungry people, Jesus? That’s not even enough lunch for us!”

But Jesus doesn’t give up on the disciples or their meager lunch. It’s enough for him. He takes the loaves, blesses and multiplies them—and thousands of women, men and children are fed in that desert place.

What good news for us today, dear church!

Jesus takes what we have—and sometimes what we feel is not adequate or good enough—and makes it abundant. There is more than enough with God.

Pastor Maria Mallory White describes God as “imminently immanent.” (Christian Century, “Living by the Word,” 7-19-17)

“Immanent” means that God is near to us, personally providing compassion out of the deep wells of God’s grace and love. God is attentive to human need, providing healing and food for broken bodies and spirits.

“Imminently immanent” means that God is right here, lavishly giving us more resources than we can imagine.

In this feeding story, we see “Jesus demonstrating his imminently immanent ability to meet human need through real-time supernatural power. [We see] the teacher who commands, ‘You give them something to eat’—and then does just that, educating the disciples in the eternal resources at hand in his kingdom.” (Mallory White, “Living by the Word”)

When we are afraid there is not enough, God shows us something different. The reign of God, made tangible in Christ, makes sure there is abundance of life for all.

I don’t know about you, but some days—or most days—during this global pandemic, I find myself just trying to keep my head above water. There is a lot for us to manage: work; family; emotions, our own and our children’s; paying attention to grief; witnessing anguished suffering in others, in the news. There are towering waves of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. Some days it feels exhausting trying to swim or stay afloat.

We can relate to the disciples who, tired and hungry themselves, say to Jesus, “We don’t have enough. All we have is a few loaves and fish. Nothing much.”

But Jesus says, “You have more than enough.” He takes it and uses it to nourish thousands of people.

Luther Seminary Professor Rolf Jacobson says, “Next to nothing is Jesus’ favorite thing to work with. Jesus can turn next to nothing into more than enough.” (“Dear Working Preacher,” workingpreacher.com, 7-26-20)

The Risen Christ turns our “next to nothing” into abundance. God creates life where we think there is “nothing” or “not much.”

This is happening in our ministries at McFarland Lutheran Church. Members are gardening and taking vegetables to the McFarland Food Pantry, and this simple produce helps to feed hungry people. Members spend just a few hours at Second Harvest to make sure hungry families have enough. Members are phoning those who are home-bound, and there is strong encouragement. Members are listening deeply to other people with different points of view, and there is new understanding.

I am also moved by the financial generosity of our members to support our mission together. As we heard during the Annual Meeting last Sunday, members continue to be extraordinarily generous during this difficult economic time. God takes the few dollars that we have, blesses them, and uses them to promote abundant healing and life for others.

With God, there is more than enough.

This is Isaiah’s invitation in our first reading. “Everyone who thirsts come to the waters…you that have no money, come, buy and eat!”

Everyone who thirsts…everyone who hungers…can come and receive. It is not cheap, but lavish! God takes delight in providing enough bread, milk, rich food, steadfast, sure love, for all people.

This is the God we know in Jesus. He is imminently immanent—providing disciples with surprising encouragement, and a hungry crowd with a satisfying meal. His compassion and deep well of life are near to us today, dear friends.

Next time we find ourselves saying, “I have got nothing,” listen for God’s reply: “I can work with nothing. I turn nothing into more than enough.” Amen.

Let Us Pray

Generous and compassionate God, thank you for providing more than enough for us and all of earth’s creatures. Use our gifts for your purpose of sustaining life for all on our planet home. Support the work of ministries that feed and nourish hungry people in body, mind and spirit. Bless with your compassion and healing all who have Covid-19 and other illnesses. Send us to share your unending love for all in need; through Jesus Christ, our Living Bread.

Amen.