Monday, August 11, 2014

Pentecost 8 Sermon: "Come and Get It!"

+ 8th Sunday after Pentecost – August 3rd, 2014 +

Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series A, Proper 13: Isaiah 55:1-5; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:13-21
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today’s Gospel reading begins and ends in abundance. Abundant compassion. Abundant food. Abundant Jesus.     
That’s the way of the Gospel, always more.
5000 men – and more counting all the women and children, all fed from 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. All were satisfied. And there were more than enough leftovers: 12 baskets full. With Jesus, there’s always more.  More food. More forgiveness. More compassion than we ever deserve or imagined.
Jesus was tired, grieving and needed rest but what did he do? Send out a disciple to announce, “Sorry crowds; take a number and have a seat in the waiting room while you fill out some paperwork; the Great Physician will see you when he can; he’s running a bit behind today?” No! Jesus looked on the great crowd and had compassion on them.
He didn’t wait. He didn’t set up a committee. He didn’t talk about it for hours on end. He simply healed their sick. Abundant compassion in body and soul. And if that wasn’t enough, Jesus fed them all too. Jesus never stops at, “That’s enough.” Jesus, our Greater Elijah, always makes sure the chalice, the font, the absolution – is always overflowing. Jesus keeps pouring out His forgiveness. Again and again and again.
To any sensible person this whole scenario seems utterly crazy. The disciples even call Jesus out on it. “Jesus, look, we’re in the middle of nowhere. The day is spent. The people are hungry. Send the crowds away to the villages to buy food for themselves.”
The disciples were right. The sensible thing would’ve been to send them away. There was no 24-hour Vons or Gourmet Galilean drive-thru nearby.
That’s our way of doing things: the sensible way. We measure. We limit. We decide what is fair. We live our lives quid pro quo: I help you, you help me. “Oh you shouldn’t have, now I am socially obligated to give you a gift in return.”
But it’s not just the day-to-day things that work this way. Showing mercy to others seems too risky, too uncomfortable. Will they really truly appreciate what I do for them? What if I show mercy to that homeless person or that family on Slater St. or that neighbor in need? What will they say? How will they react? Will they appreciate all I’ve done for them?
Yes, we live sensible lives; we compare and measure others by our own standards and rarely look in the mirror. Because the mirror reveals the ugly truth: deep down we think we’re better than others; I live as if I mattered most, not my neighbor.
Thank God Jesus doesn’t do things the sensible way; we’d never make it through the checkout line. He doesn’t pull out the scales and weights and measure out each according to their wages. Isaiah knew it well too: abundant pardon. Abundant food without price.
Jesus takes a recipe right out of Isaiah’s cook book: “Come! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come; buy wine and milk without money and without price.”
How ridiculous! If Jesus was a grocery store he’d be broke and out of food in no time. But that’s the kind of Savior you have: abundant compassion. Abundant food. Abundant, gluttonous forgiveness.
There beside the still waters and green grass of Galilee, the Shepherd fed his sheep. “They don’t need to go away. You feed them.”
            “But we only have 5 loaves and 2 fish; it’s not enough,” the disciples cry.
“Bring them to me; it’s more than enough.”
Jesus prepares the food, sets the table, and seats the people. Then, looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Jesus blesses and gives thanks so the people are blessed and give thanks. He took bread. Broke it. Gave it to the disciples. And they distributed it.
Do those verbs sound familiar? They should. On the night when he was betrayed, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to His Disciples. “Take eat My Body given for you. Take drink my blood of the new testament shed for you for the remission of sins.”
Although that Galilean diner was a good, it was only an appetizer of the real feast of heaven on earth. Jesus blesses and gives thanks so you are blessed and give thanks. The Lord’s Supper. The Eucharist. The true Thanksgiving dinner.                    
Jesus feeds you the same way he fed that Galilean crowd; without price, without limit. Abundant Compassion. Outrageous forgiveness. Reckless, unabashed love in body and soul.
Christ Crucified tips the scale in your favor. All your debt is his. And all his life is yours. For all the sinful pettiness you measure out to others, He pours out his blood without measure for all. For all the times you are unmerciful; He looks on you in compassion. For all the times we lived as if we mattered most, Jesus lives and dies because you matter most. Jesus loves you with uncommon-sensible love.
That’s why you feed your children, isn’t it? Of course, because it’s good for them. Food is an enjoyable part of God’s creation. And family and church fellowship happens around the table. It’s all of this and more. You care for and feed your children because you love them.
And while our earthly parents may tell us - “That’s enough; if you don’t eat your meat you can’t have any pudding” - Jesus never says, “That’s enough forgiveness for one day; No compassion for you.”  When Jesus gives, he gives bountifully. Abundant compassion. Abundant food. Abundant Jesus.
That’s the life of the church to eat and feast on Christ’s gluttonous forgiveness, like hobbits and teenagers. Eat as often as you can; you can never get enough. With Jesus there’s always more forgiveness than there is sin.  More forgiveness than you have sins; more compassion than you could possibly need. So much that there’s leftovers: abundant love, abundant compassion, abundant forgiveness overflowing for your neighbor. Without limit.
For how can we, who have received Christ’s blessings, say to our brother in need: “Peace be with you,” yet leave him hungry, naked or in need?  Our Great Physician calls us to be abundantly compassionate to all in need.  Our Great Chef calls us to wait on those in need of daily bread, feeding them food that lasts into eternity and food that lasts through the night.  Our Great High Priest calls and ordains pastors – to feed his sheep with his forgiveness. He doesn’t stop there. He calls all Christians to be priests, to offer your lives as living sacrifices. Your priestly work is as close as your neighbor in need.
From the shores of Galilee to the shores of Huntington Beach, by hillside and bedside – Jesus is feeding his people.  Jesus heals, feeds and Saves - in body and soul. He does the same for you.
That’s why we confess the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. We eat and drink Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins. He strengthens you in body and soul in order for you to be a blessing to others in body and soul.
So, come, the dinner bell is ringing: “The Lord be with you; Come and get it!”
Come, Lord Jesus be our guest and let your gifts to us be blessed.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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