Summer Series of Five Sermons on

Five Contemporary Miracles of Jesus Ė No. 1

Bread Unimaginable:  Miracle of Abundance
Matt.14:13-21  Gospel for 11th Sunday After Pentecost  8/4/02

  If the truth be told, for most of us, every day there is an abundance to our living that one could call miraculous. 

   Every day there is an abundance of air we breathe!  There is an abundance of food we eat.

   Most of us during the course of a life-time travel an abundance of the miles without major accidents or serious injuries.

   And probably one of the most remarkable signs that there is a abundance to our living are those times when we lose a loved one, or we ourselves are hospitalized, or a fire destroys someoneís home, or thereís an all-out-emergency effort to save 9 miners trapped 250 feet underground. What an incredible response of time, food, cards, visits, words of encouragement & even $$$ gushes forth when people need help.

   Think back to 9/11 and how many millions & millions of $$$ were contributed and thousands & thousands of pints of blood were donated on the spur of the moment.  So much blood that the Red Cross had more blood than they knew what to do with.      

   If the definition of a miracle is that which goes against the laws of nature, or that which cannot be explained scientifically, then those people were right who said such a massive out-pouring of blood donations and contributions in response to 9/11 was nothing short of a miracle.

   But that was then and this is now; and now the need for blood is great because blood supplies are low.  What to do?  Who will do it?

   Is there a lesson to learn here?  What can we learn from miracles of abundance when prayers are answered & people are helped to have enough; more than enough?  

   What we learn when lean times give way to lush times; what we learn when a drought sooner or later, suddenly of gradually gives way to an abundance of moisture; is that God our Creator and Redeemer; God who is the Lord and Giver of life, is a God who tends toward excess,

extravagance, exuberance. 

   What God would have us believe about Him is that He is unbelievably, unexplainably, abundantly gracious, generous, lavish in His giving and loving. 

   Look at todayís Gospel from Matthew.  A huge crowd followed Jesus, the Son of God, Son of Man, into the wilderness.  Just prior to this Jesus had received the horrendous news that His friend & fellow preacher, John the Baptist, had been beheaded by order of Herod the Great and Jesus was sick about it. Jesus was so stunned at the loss of such a great voice preaching the Kingdom of God, that He just had to get away, be by himself, take a break, enjoy some peace & quiet. 

   Thatís not what happened. Even out in the wilderness, away from it all, there were thousands of people looking for Jesus. And Jesus being Jesus, when He saw so many people, He had compassion on them and healed their sick.

   But it was getting late, so Jesusí disciples urged him to send the crowds of people away so that they might find themselves something to eat.  "Where in the world do you expect US to get enough to feed all these people,Ē the disciples asked. ďThere must be a least five thousand of them out there.Ē

   When Jesus insisted His disciples find a way to feed that many people, all they could come up with was a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.  But, Jesus being Jesus, Son of God, Son of Man, Jesus blessed what they had and it was enough; more than enough.  Everyone ate and was filled.  Not only that, the disciples wound up with more food than what they could give away.  There were twelve baskets of food left over; a detail which Iím sure is reported to assure us that this was an totally unimaginable amount of food provided. 

   Why this detail?  What is there to learn from this totally awesome miracle of abundance, bread unimaginable?

   One thing it suggests to me is that itís hard to look at this miracle of abundance and not see that those disciples are us.  It is often our nature too as human beings to look at the vast needs of the world and not want to get involved; shrug our shoulders; complain; or sometimes even rebel at the thought that we being so richly blessed have to help or to share with those in such poor living conditions that we canít even begin to imagine what such poverty is like. 

   Send them away so they can go somewhere and get themselves some-thing to eat, we say.  Lord, it would take a miracle to feed so many. Can you work a miracle or two? 

   Well, Jesus works a miracle all right, but look how He goes about it.  He asks, What do you have?  Whatever we have, and usually we are quick to say we donít have a lot. But whatever we have, the word from Jesus is ďBring it here to me.Ē  Home grown vegetables; items for

newborns; blankets; coats; blood; hay; money; a free afternoon; a talent for doing odd jobs; a love for children; Jesus urges us to take what we have, what comes from Him, what is a miracle of abundance in our lives and recklessly share it, give it away, let it flow freely and abundantly to others like disciples passing out broken pieces of bread & fresh caught fish to eat, And itís enough! It is enough; more than enough to feed 5000 thousand men, not counting women & children.  

   This is how it is in the Kingdom of God says Jesus. This is Godís kind of math.  Hereís a powerful, promising math for us to learn. Our limited resources plus Christís compassion equals contemporary miracles of abundance and blessing we canít begin to imagine. What we can do is read all about it in Matthew chapter 5 . . Blessed are the poor in spirit . . Blessed are those who mourn . . Blessed are the meek . . Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness . . Blessed are the merciful . . Blessed are the pure in heart . . Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.

   Just donít ever forget; donít lose sight of Who is behind all this abundance of blessing and being a blessing to others.

   ďA hillside of hungry families was changed into a well-fed

congregation by Jesusí fourfold action.Ē  Remember and rejoice in Jesusí four-fold action.  He took, He blessed, He a broke, He gave.Ē 

   And now, every time we come to the Lordís Table, even when sit at home around our own kitchen tables or dining room tables, that same fourfold action of Jesus taking, blessing, breaking, giving is a reminder to us how we in faith receive and are renewed by Godís abundant, steadfast love for us in Jesus self-less action; in Jesus living, giving - dying, rising - showing, sharing - blessing, multiplying. 

        The world, someone has said, is complex, not simple; it is diverse, not singular; it is rich not poor; full of wonder and beauty, full of blessing & being blessed if we but have eyes to see & ears to hear.

   When will we learn to trust Jesus? When will we learn this new math that; Godís way of doing math; that our limited resources offered to Him plus Christís compassion which flows from Him equals an abundance of life we canít begin to imagine or even ask for.

   We are all born into this world with a fear of scarcity, a sense of insecurity.  We all want to grab and hold on tight to whatever we have. But by the grace of God, there is another way to live.  We can be born again; we gain a whole new perspective on the abundance of life from our Lord Jesus who came for no other reasons than that we might have life and have it abundantly, His life, eternal life.

   May this miracle of abundance; bread unimaginable help us see all that we have, and all that we are, is but a gift from an incredibly gracious, generous, lavish God who asks of us only that we respond to our others in need with the same gracious, generous, lavish spirit; that as we say ďCome, Lord Jesus be our guest and let these gifts to us be blessed;Ē everyday we might also add, ďand with these gifts use us to be a rich and abundant blessing to others.Ē  Amen