Pentecost 8, year A

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Pentecost 20, year A October 26, 2014 Proper 25, Year A Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18, Psalm 1, Matthew 22:34-36
Pentecost 19, year A October 19, 2014 Proper 24, Year A Isaiah 45:1-7, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, Matthew 22:15-22
Pentecost 17, year A October 5, 2014 Proper 22, Year A Isaiah 5:1-7, Psalm 80:7-14, Philippians 3:4b-14, Matthew 21:33-46
Pentecost 16, year A September 28, 2014 Proper 21, Year A Sermon, Proper 21, Year A Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32, Psalm 25: 1-8, Philippians 2:1-13, Matthew 21:23-32
Pentecost 14, year A September 14, 2014 Proper 19, Year A Matthew 18:21-35
Pentecost 13, year A September 7, 2014 Proper 18, Year A Ezekiel 33:7-11, Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:15-20
Pentecost 11, year A August 24, 2014 Proper 16, Year A Matthew 16:13-20
Pentecost 10, year A August 17, 2014 Proper 15, Year A Matthew 15:10-20, 21-28
Pentecost 9, year A August 10, 2014 Proper 14, Year A Matthew 14:22-33
Pentecost 8, year A August 3, 2014 Pentecost 8, year A Matthew 14:13-21
Pentecost 6, year A July 20, 2014 Proper 11, Year A Romans 8:12-25
Pentecost 7, year A July 20, 2014 Proper 12, Year A I Kings 3:5-12, Romans 8:26-39, Matthew 13:31-33
Pentecost 5, year A July 13, 2014 Proper 10, Year A Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, Psalm 65:9-14
Genevieve Davis’ Funeral Homily July 13, 2014 Burial of the Dead, Rite II Isaiah 35:1-10, I John 4:7-8,11-12, John 14:1-3
Pentecost 4, year A July 6, 2014 Proper 9, Year A Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

 

Pentecost 8, year A

Sermon Date:August 3, 2014

Scripture: Matthew 14:13-21

Liturgy Calendar: Pentecost 8, year A


"Christ Feeding 5,000" – Eric Feather

PDF version 

Although we are seeing some pushback in our culture, the conventional wisdom is still that bigger is better. And this mindset informs our thinking about so many things, 

including church.

Small churches can easily get sucked into big church envy with the little congregation thinking that more members, more money and more of everything would somehow make the small church better, more attractive, and more capable of reaching out to others.

People in small churches, being realistic, can be easily discouraged.  “We can’t do that!  We don’t have enough money, people, or resources.”

Just like the realistic and discouraged disciples in today’s gospel. 

“Hey, Jesus, it’s getting late.  This huge crowd is getting hungry and we can’t possibly feed them all.  So send them away.”

In other words, there aren’t enough of us, and we certainly don’t have enough food to feed all of these hungry people. 

The disciples are right.  There aren’t enough of them, and they don’t have enough to share.  So they must have thought Jesus was being ridiculous to tell them to give the crowds something to eat when they didn’t even have enough for themselves. 

Here we are today—a small church, with an average Sunday attendance during the year of around forty people. 

For a small church, we are blessed financially.  We can pay our bills and we aren’t in debt. 

But still, it’s fair to say that when it comes to the needs of the world around us, we could join the disciples in saying to God and to one another, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish,  and thinking, even if we don’t say it aloud—“And that’s not enough to do much with—after all, we’re just a small congregation.”

At this point, I find this quote from Anne Graham Lotz useful. 

“If all you ever attempt is that which you know you can do or have the resources for, how will you ever discover what God can do? “

And God certainly does an amazing thing when the disciples give the little they have to Jesus.

 KaBoom—there’s enough for everyone.

Jesus took that little bit of bread and those two fish,

looked up to heaven and offered the bread and fish to God.

Second, he blessed the bread and fish.

Third, he broke the bread and the fish.

Fourth, he gave the bread and the fish to the disciples to distribute to the crowd, and not only was there more than enough, but twelve baskets of food were left over.  If the disciples had wondered what on earth they’d eat after handing over all they had, they now had an answer—more than enough for them too!

A team effort—the disciples gave what they had, Jesus offered it, blessed it and broke it, God increased it and Jesus gave it back to the disciples to give out to the crowd.

So—as a small church,

what resources, that is, bread and fish, do we have, limited as they might be, to turn over to God?

This question requires ongoing prayer and discernment—part of the hard work that the Vestry has taken on this year as we continue the process of thinking through what it is that God is calling us to be and to do as this church in this community. 

One thing that was obvious in the answers we received from many of you after we heard Sally O’Brien speak is we are called to feed people.  We already do this to an extent. 

As I like to say, we are an “eating” church.  We love to come together and to share food.  For us, food is a sign of welcome.  Today’s coffee hour is a great example—we are celebrating an upcoming marriage and welcoming Karen, Justin’s fiancée and soon to be wife, by eating together. 

And we’ve been reaching out to hungry people around us through ongoing food collections for the social services food pantry and in the past few years, our community dinners. 

So our current food ministry of five loaves and two fish is something we can offer to God for blessing, breaking and giving. 

Another project we are currently offering up for God’s blessing is the tutoring program.  A few dedicated people, led by the Pogues, are in the process of offering up this program by praying over the shape it will take and how to get the word out to people in the community. 

Then there are some new ideas that we are praying about.  Can we become a wedding venue?   What about transportation needs in this area?  What about coordinating with other churches and groups in Port Royal?

And of course we have two small buildings to offer up to God—this beautiful space as well as our parish house.  How can we best use the space we already have for God’s work in the world? 

Please, congregation, do your part in this discernment process by being diligent about praying for St Peter’s every day—praying about what we as a small church can offer up for God’s blessing and for God’s work in the world. 

And here’s the other thing.  Anything we decide to offer up begins with each one of us.

That’s right—you and I are each the five loaves of bread and two fish.   And it’s easy to think that there’s isn’t enough of us to go around.    Sometimes I am highly tempted to pray this prayer—“God, send the hungry crowd away—I can’t do all this by myself.”

That prayer means that I’ve forgotten that I don’t have to do it by myself—team effort is involved. 

The more useful prayer is this—“Here I am, Lord.  One person.  Not enough to go around.  But I’m offering myself to you.  Please, would you bless me, break me and use me? “

God answers that prayer.

When I pray this way—offering myself to God—God, here I am, just a little bit of bread and fish—then I find that there’s enough of me to go around, and plenty left over for my own satisfaction and joy as well. 

So please, this week, offer this small church, St Peter’s, with the little bit we have, to God in prayer.

And offer yourself to God, just as you are, even if you feel you have nothing to give. 

And expect miracles. 

Amen.  

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