Sunday, July 31, 2005

Pentecost 11 - Year A

NB: With help from William H Willimon's Pulpit Resource

“Let’s ask Jane to take on this job,” said one of the members of the committee. “Jane always does such a good job on anything she does.” There was widespread agreement from everyone in the group.

Then Mrs. Schmidt piped up, “Do you really think that’s fair to Jane? She has two or three jobs in the church already. She’s one of our busiest and hardest workers.”

“That’s my point,” replied the chair of the committee. “Everybody knows, if you want a job done right, always ask the busiest person to do it. Busy people always seem to be the ones who are able to find time somehow to do more.”

***

“I love my family and would do anything in the world for them,” many folks say. But while that’s all well and good; but let’s face it, it’s usually pretty easy to love our families. They typically look like us. We parents have much of our ego needs tied up in our children. But there are parents who are able to look beyond their own kith and kin.”

“Pastor, we have decided to adopt William,” the young couple told me. “His mother can’t keep him and he’s become so attached to us.” William came to them as abused infant, probably with fetal alcohol syndrome. This wasn’t the first child like this they’d taken into their home and adopted as their own.

“Wow, that’s great,” I replied, “But you already adopted three troubled children. Don’t get me wrong, you’re both great parents, but I’m worried that number 4 might tax your limits.”

“When it comes to these children,” the mom said, “I haven’t yet found that there can be limits.”

She was right. Or as Bayard Taylor put it, “The loving are the daring.”

***

“I’ve got to get back on the road,” the man told me. “I want to be there by supper.”

“Where are you off to?” I asked.

“I’m off to feed my wife,” he replied, “She’s in the lodge in Hamilton.”

“How often do you go?” I asked him.

“Each morning for breakfast and each evening for supper,” he said.

“Wow,” I replied, “She must be happy to see so much of you since she’s so far away from home,” I said.

“Oh, she hasn’t recognized me for years, now,” he replied.

“And still, you drive an hour there and an hour back twice a day, to feed someone who doesn’t know who you are.”

“What else am I going to do,” he said, “She’s my wife.”

***

Throughout the gospels, Jesus also quietly exceeds expectation. He pushes the borders of acceptable religious behaviour. He tells some crazy stories about how God’s kingdom works.

The story of the prodigal son, for example, where the defiant boy insults his dad, blows his inheritance on alcohol and prostitutes, then skulks home ready to receive the spanking of his life, only to find his dad running down the street towards him with arms wide open, then the old guy throws a HUGE party for this son who behaved so shamefully.

Or the story of the woman with the lost coin who, when she finds, phones her friends, buys some food, hires a band, and has a party all night.

Or Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana – his first miracle, according John – 180 gallons or 819 litres of wine. That’s a lot of wine. He just didn’t want the party to end.

Jesus told stories of great abundance and extravagance because that’s what God is like, then backed up these stories in the way be behaved.

I think, if we were standing next to Jesus when he told his stories and worked his miracles, we’d respond like the disciples, either embarrassed or worried. Jesus doesn’t show us a god we would create if we had the chance.

Really, what we want is a god who will keep people in their place. Like the disciples complaining to Jesus that the people have no food, we want a god we can control – a puppet, whose strings we can pull when times get tough.

I think Jesus came to show us that God cannot be packaged; God cannot be confined to simple categories. That God is not about placing boundaries around lives as much as God is interested in loving us lavishly. That there’s something built right in to the nature of God, it would seem, that tends towards extravagance, bounty, and abundance.

But we need to be careful about the kind of abundance that Jesus was talking about. God couldn’t care less about wealth, status, power, or fame. God doesn’t care of Robin Williams was seen buying coffee at Safeway. God isn’t interested in the air-conditioned dog houses of some TV evangelists who peddle the gospel like its some sort of get-rich-quick scheme. God isn’t interested in our upwardly mobile lives with a two car garage in the ‘burbs and satellite TV. Those things aren’t even on God’s radar screen.

God is interested in how we love each other. God pays attention to compassion and forgiveness. God takes notice when new life springs seemingly out of no where. That’s the abundance that God showers on the world; because that’s the abundance that Jesus lived and told stories about. The abundance of self-giving, suffering love that lives within the subterranean moments of our lives. The extravagance of compassion that heals deep wounds even if no body is looking. As one Lutheran preacher puts it, “Love is a spendthrift, leaves its arithmetic at home, and is always in the red.

So Jesus teaches on a hillside and looks at the crowd who showed up to hear him speak. “Must be a few thousand out there,” he mutters to himself. “They must be hungry. It’s almost supper time.”

“Send them back to town so they can get some food,” suggested his disciples, “I think we saw a Mickey D’s down the road.”

“But what have you got?” Jesus responds.

“Not a whole lot. Just a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.”

I always wondered if Jesus rolled his eyes and shook his head when he found out this crowd forgot to pack a lunch. “What kind of people go out for the day and forget their picnic basket?” he might have thought.

Maybe he was annoyed that the job of feeding all these people somehow fell to him. He was tired, after all. He’d been preaching all day. Now he probably just wanted to collapse and unwind. But he was stuck with a mass of hungry people who didn’t think far enough ahead.

Maybe he saw this as an opportunity; an opportunity to illustrate what he’d just been talking about.

Jesus takes this small, meagre meal, blesses it, but in doing so, he wasn’t just blessing the food. This wasn’t any ordinary table grace. Jesus was blessing their shortsightedness, blessing their silliness, and blessing their failures. He broke the bread, and told his disciples to give it away. His disciples looked curiously at each other, not sure what Jesus was up to. “There’s no way we can feed all these people” they might have said.

But as it turned out, it was enough.

Matthew says, “All ate and were filled; and they took over the broken pieces, 12 baskets full.”

So, maybe there wasn’t enough. There was more than enough. Even if it was a just a little more than was needed.

So Jesus was showing us an example of what the God he told us about can do – shower gentle love and soft compassion on a hurting and hungry world. Jesus was showing us that the kingdom of God is just not a place we go when we die; but the kingdom of God is alive all around us, when suffering people receive relief, when hungry people are given food, when dying people receive the promise of new and everlasting life.

And when all have received their fill, Jesus still has a little left over for the stragglers.

May this be so among us.

13 Comments:

Blogger Kevin said...

Does this work?

kgp

4:45 PM  
Blogger Steve Austin said...

Tasty blog! Please check out my tour wine blog.

4:10 PM  
Blogger cash at home said...

This is an outstanding blog here! I really enjoyed the topic you chose to write about. I'm definitely going to bookmark you! I have a earn extra money site. It pretty much covers earn extra money related stuff. Come and check it out if you get time :-)

11:32 AM  
Blogger Thanks for you visit said...

Greetings,

I Really think you have a great blog here, and see you have a very high page ranking, I found this info out from this page. http://pr.blogflux.com/ Try it out.



I have several pages of my own,

I'ts about femme Clothing. This site is in French language.
My second site is about Chaussures that is Shoes in french and bottes that is boots in french.

My Third site is about Chocolate that is made in France. The Frech language just drops to e at the end so it is chocolat

4:00 PM  
Blogger Clickbank Mall said...

Last week I told you about Google Site Targeting -
putting your AdWords ads on specific websites
instead of targeting by keyword, and how this
slices the world in a completely different way.

Now you can pay to have your ad shown, rather
than paying per click, and you can more easily
advertise products that people wouldn't necessarily
think to search for.

Google started out selling this space for $2.00
per thousand impressions ("CPM"). Then they
dropped it to $1.00.

On Monday they just dropped it again, to 25 cents.

(Now we're talking!)

This now puts those clicks in the ~5 cent neighborhood,
and in some cases less. It's a fun thing to play with.
But before you do, though, make sure you:

-Set a low daily budget so you don't make a big mistake

-Track conversion rates (Very important! Without
sales conversion, nothing else matters.)

-Delete sites with horrible Click Thru Rates - Hey, if
you're not getting any clicks, you shouldn't be paying
them for the impressions.

Want to increase the clicks on your adsense ads? Of course you do. This means more money in your pocket.
For FREE Information. That will for sure make you more money by the end of the week.

5:00 AM  
Blogger blog and ping said...

Your site is great. Feel free to contribute some info or articles about drug rehab tulsa

3:06 AM  
Blogger Seth said...

hey, nice blog here, mind if i do a link exchange with you?
my blog's nice too, it's about secrets google adsense
stuffs, many more, even becoming rich wealthy exact instructions, something you can't miss!Trust me, you'll change your life in a matter of minutes : )
Can visit my blog about google adsense secrets, business opportunities, becoming rich, and much more, if you don't want to be rich dont ever click

3:56 PM  
Blogger Seth said...

hey, nice blog here, mind if i do a link exchange with you?
my blog's nice too, it's about google adsense secrets
stuffs, many more, even becoming rich wealthy exact instructions, something you can't miss!Trust me, you'll change your life in a matter of minutes : )
Can visit my blog about google adsense secrets, business opportunities, becoming rich, and much more, if you don't want to be rich dont ever click

6:56 AM  
Blogger Google Page Rank 6 said...

Want more clicks to your Adsense Ads on your Blog?

Then you have to check out my blog. I have found a FREE and Legitimate way that will increase your earnings.

Come Check us out. How to Boost Your AdSense Revenue

1:06 AM  
Blogger doer said...

Hello, just visited your blog, it's informative. I also have a website related togoogle adsense software. So make sure you visit and hope it's useful.

1:55 AM  
Blogger Johnjon said...

Yo, This blog is pretty neat. You should check out mine sometime. It pretty much covers six sided figure related stuff.

7:09 AM  
Blogger Goodman441 said...

You Will Very Easily Earn An Extra $200, $500, Even $1000+ Every Week With Only 15 Minutes Of Your Time...

Click HERE

2:36 AM  
Blogger Gordon said...

Hello, just visited your blog, it's informative. I also have a website related togoogle adsense software. So make sure you visit and hope it's useful.

5:52 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home