I thought I would share with you this sermon, brought to us today by my friend, Pastor Bob (who pastors in San Diego).
A sermon by Pastor Bob
October 23, 2011
Text: Mt. 14:13-21
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
--The feeding of the 5000 is a great story that is found not only in the gospel of Matthew, but in Mark, Luke and John as well.
--It is a story that is miraculous and terribly satisfying.
--As it says in our text, the crowds all ate and they were filled, or perhaps a better translation, they were “satisfied.”
--So satisfied that 12 full baskets were left over.
--But this morning, this story reminds us not only of God’s generosity and bounty, but perhaps most importantly, God’s hunger. --Have you ever been hungry for something that nothing else could satisfy?
--Maybe you were on a camping trip for a number of days and towards the end, you would give anything for some French Fries instead of your freeze-dried food.
--Or maybe you have traveled in another country and you could not get the food you are used to eating and you would give anything for a fresh salad or grilled steak.
--Hunger can come not only from an empty stomach, but from an aching heart.
--Have you ever hungered for the presence of someone?
--Someone that makes you physically ache until you can be with them.
--This is a strange paradox of love.
--It is painful and joyful at the same time.
--For in falling in love, we begin to recognize what is lacking in our own lives.
--A lacking that we could not, nor would we want to see.
--For it is only in the filling of that hunger, that we see the hunger in the first place.
--This is something like what it means to be hungry for God.
--It is to recognize the hunger that is deep within us.
--A hunger that persists as we try to fill it with other things.
--It is as if God made us with a hole inside of us that only God can fill.
--And it is in the filling of that hole, that we suddenly can look as our selves as complete, as whole, w-h-o-l-e.
--Sometimes, we catch glimpse of that hole, h-o-l-e.
--Sometimes we see it when something positive happens to us, like when we suddenly grasp the infinite majesty of creation.
--A sunset of unimaginable colors.
--A flower so perfect, we must touch it to see if it’s real.
--The birth of a child as it takes its first breath.
--But, most often, we clearly see the hole when we lose the things that we have been subconsciously trying to cover that hole.
--Either the loss of work, or things, or most especially the loss of relationship and the loss of a loved one.
--When we come upon this hole in us, it can be unnerving because it clearly shows how fragile we truly are.
--It is a vulnerability we are not prepared to meet directly.
--Yet this hole, this hunger, this something that beckons to be filled and satisfied.
--And ultimately…this is also opportunity.
--For there is one who can fill this hole.
--There is one who can satisfy our hunger.
--That person is the one who created us in the first place.
--Our Lord. Our God.
--Now of course, you knew that.
--Like every children’s sermon, the answer is always either Jesus, God, or some combination with the Holy Spirit.
--But, I want to suggest to you that not only are we as humans, as God’s creatures hungry for God, but that God is hungry for us.
--And, I would like to suggest an image for God that you perhaps have never thought of.
--What if there is a hole in God?
--Now, I don’t mean a physical whole or even a lacking that we experience in our own hunger, but something else.
--Jewish scholars many centuries ago struggled to understand how God could create the universe, and one group suggested that God created a space within God’s self.
--A space that was not God.
--A space in which God could freely create our universe.
--And the universe could freely experience God.
--These Jews called this “zimsum”
--The zimsum, the hole in God, is therefore not a negative thing, for it allows God to be God and for the world to exist in freedom.
--And most importantly, it allows God to truly love us.
--Now if we put this idea together with the reality that there is a hole in us, we may comprehend a most astonishing thing:
--Just as the hole in us is filled by the love of God.
--So the hole in God is filled by our love for God.
--I suspect that God aches for us and for our love in a similar way as we ache for God.
--Why else would God persist in loving us at all costs? --Why else would God become in incarnate in Jesus Christ and experience the brokenness of this world? --Why else would God give everything, even the death of Jesus on the cross? --God is hungry for you and for me. --This Christianity business is not just us deciding if we want to join a church or not, it is being caught up in God’s hunger, God’s love for us.
--A hunger that is relentless in its desire to know us and to be known.
--You need to know that God is not ever going to stop loving you.
--Not in your life and not in your death.
--The hole in us and the hole in God are inseparable, and this leads us to the conclusion that perhaps the hole that we try desperately to ignore or to cover up is in the end is what makes us fully human. --The crowds that surrounded Jesus that day were not only filled by bread and fishes, but by Jesus’ word and most importantly, by Jesus himself.
--The crowds came out of hunger for the one who would fill that hole that they sensed in their lives.
--And Jesus, in compassion, love and his own hunger for them said to his disciples.
--“Do not send them away but let them eat.”
--For with God, there is plenty enough for everyone to be satisfied, and even to be left over.
--This morning in a short while you will be invited to Holy Communion.
--A meal in which God feeds us not only bread and wine or grape juice, but God’s very presence.
--God is hungry for you.
--Come and be filled by God’s hunger for you.
--By God’s love and peace and joy and faith.
--And be filled and satisfy the hole in you.
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