St. Paul Lutheran Church – Sunday Service

Message: Tired of Taking  John 6:26-29

8th Sunday After Pentecost

August 3, 2003

   As visitors & tourists walk through the different exhibits at Pioneer Village, one of the exhibits that I think is pretty well put together is the exhibit that shows the changes in kitchens over the years from one generation to the next.  Several times, I’ve walked that long isle past all those different kitchens, about 8 or 9 old American kitchens, each a little bit better than the one before it.

   And while it hasn’t ever really made me hungry to slowly walk by & gaze at how those kitchens are put together, it has made me stop & think about kitchens being one of the warmest, most familiar, most interesting, most fascinating rooms in a house.  Not just a room for food to be stored & cooked & meals prepared; not just a room where  breads & cookies & cakes & pies were taken fresh from the oven, but the kitchens of years gone buy were also rooms where families used to meet and sit together and visit and enjoy one another’s company and soak up a certain amount of oneness & togetherness, sharing the ups & downs of life with one another. 

   In this day & age of fast foods, micro-waves,  instant this & instant that, left-over pizza & Oreo cookies, how things have changed, haven’t they?  Whether for better or for worse, who can say?  I know I’ve listened to widows & widowers tell me that food they prepare for themselves & sit alone to eat in their own kitchens just isn’t the same where there used to be a spouse or others to share it with.

   How things have change, don’t they.  Having raised three daughters in our home, watching them grow up years ago sitting around our dining room table & then hurriedly start passing through the kitchen like it was some kind of snack shop, I’m not necessarily an advocate for re-turning to the good old days.  But I am most certainly an advocate for those meals & those moments together which remind us & strengthen us for more than just having fun, or getting what we can get out of life, or having all this stuff that we wind up having.

   And that I think, is what Jesus, wanted to tell that large crowd of people who came looking for Him in Capernaum – not because they wanted more of who He was and what his life was all about – but because they just wanted more bread, more free meals, more stuff to keep them going

   Jesus said to the crowd who had witness & participated in his miracle of feeding the five thousand, “I tell you for certain that you are not looking for me because you saw God in my actions, my sharing,

But because you ate all the food you wanted.  Don’t work for food that spoils.  Work for food that gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give you this food because God the Father ha given him the right to do so.”  “What exactly does God want us to do?” the people asked. 

   Jesus answered, “God wants you to have faith in the one He sent.

   Whether it is the crowd that followed Jesus to Capernaum, or whether it is the crowd that attempts to follow Jesus in the 21st century, the issue is the same.

   We endlessly chase after stuff or things that have do not have ultimate or final significance in our lives. And the pursuit of so much stuff, believe it or not, does not lead to fuller but emptier, shallower, lesser lives.  Or as the great American author & novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald has one of his self-indulging characters say, “We took what we wanted until we no longer wanted what we took.”

   The Good News for the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John is that the only way to have guaranteed satisfaction in one’s life is to seek that which provides the ultimate satisfaction in this life & the life to come: and that is knowing & trusting & abiding in Jesus Christ.

   Instant gratification and the attractiveness of so much stuff in this life along with the ever changing designs of kitchens may be telltale signs of the times in which we live, but they do not have to be and should not be telltale signs of the live of those who follow Jesus Christ.

   A worthy life to live is one that for better or worse, in sickness & in health, recognizes & relies boldly & confidently upon God to provide all that is needed through all the means that God makes available; and that includes good food, good friends, and good fellow-ship & support from fellow believers in Christ when you need it.

   This is the kind of life Christians are called to live; not flashy

but faithful to God; not full of taking & taking, but full of trusting & trusting.

   I can barely remember the three or four different kitchens in the houses I grew up in - out in the western suburbs of Chicago back in the late 40’s, 50’s, and early 60’s, but I can remember growing up on & learning to say & still believing more & more the word’s of Martin Luther’s explanation of the second article of the apostle’s Creed which goes like this. 

   I believe that Jesus Christ, true God begotten of the Father before eternity and also true man born of the virgin Mary has redeemed me a lost and condemned creature.  He has purchased and won me from sin, death, and the power of the devil; not with gold or silver but with his holy precious blood and his innocent suffering and death; that I may be His own & live under Him in His Kingdom, and serve Him in ever-lasting righteousness, innocence, & blessedness.  Even as he is risen from the dead, lives & reigns to all eternity, this is more certainly true.

   And I might add, a life lived that way; a life of working & relaxing & vacationing & raising children; a life of cooking & baking & helping others & heading for retirement lived on the basis of such a confession of Jesus Christ as Savior & Lord can & does produce 100 percent guaranteed satisfaction. 

   When a Christian sings, “Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to thee; take my moments & my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise,” that is a taking, a taking, a taking one does not get tired of. 

   I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty, writes the apostle Paul.  In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry.  I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me.

   May we all continually learn to live that way . . .