Scripture: Matthew 14:13–21

Text Focus Sentence: Jesus withdrew to be alone but the crowds followed him and he had compassion on them curing the sick and feeding the 5000 with five loaves and two fish.

Sermon Focus Sentence: Jesus instructs the disciples to feed the people The Rev. Suzanne Trump, Associate Pastor of Formation and Compassionand gives them the resources to do it 

Function Statement: God loves us and promises to use us for good in the world 

“Together We Can”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

  1. Many years ago, there was a woman who lived in a small village in France.
    1. Trained as a nurse, she devoted her life to caring for the sick and needy
    2. After many years of kind and selfless service to the village’s families, the woman died
    3. She had no family of her own
    4. So the townsfolk planned a beautiful funeral for her
    5. A fitting tribute to the woman to whom so many owed their lives
    6. The parish priest, however, pointed out that, because she was a protestant
    7. She could not be buried in the town’s Catholic cemetery.
    8. The villagers protested, but the priest held firm
    9. It was not easy for the priest either
    10. Because he too had been cared for by the woman during a serious illness.
    11. But the canons of the Church were very clear
    12. She would have to be buried outside the fence of the cemetery
    13. The day of the funeral arrived and the whole village accompanied the woman’s casket to the cemetery
    14. Where she was buried—outside the fence.
    15. But that night a group of villagers
    16. Armed with shovels, sneaked into the cemetery.
    17. Then they quietly set to work—moving the fence.
    18. More astounding than Jesus’ feeding of the crowds with a few pieces of bread and fish is Jesus’ transforming the crowd into a community
    19. A community united in their need for one another
    20. In the bread they share
    21. In the love of Christ who has brought them together
    22. Christ empowers each of us to perform our own miracles of creating community when we “move the fences” to include outsiders
    23. When we welcome the rejected and the forgotten to our tables
    24. When we give of what little we have, joyfully and gratefully
    25. For the sake of others
    26. When we welcome one another as we would welcome Jesus.
    27. As we welcome Nellie into God’s family, our family through baptism
    28. The gospel reading for today is the only miracle story found in all four of the gospels
    29. But the real story in not so much in the amount of food, as impressive as it is, but what it tells us about God
  2. First and foremost the gospel tells us that God is love
    1. The key is that Jesus had compassion on the people
    2. Compassion that cares directly for their most basic needs
    3. That Jesus was concerned that the people had food to eat
    4. That we have food to eat
    5. That God cares for each and every one of us
    6. That Nellie is loved and cared for by a loving God
  • Second, God has entrusted an awesome responsibility to us
    1. Jesus did not feed the five thousand plus people
    2. He told the disciples to do it
    3. God has entrusted us to be the body of Christ
    4. The hands and feet through which God’s work is done in the world
    5. God does not work alone but through people
    6. Like you and me
    7. Like Nellie as she grows in love and faith
    8. To follow Jesus is to express our faith in concrete acts of love, justice and compassion toward others
  1. And the third point is that God will give us what we need
    1. When we need it most
    2. God will give us the power to work for good in the world
    3. That God gives talents and skills to each of us
    4. We can’t wait to see what talents and skills Nellie has
    5. What God has planned for Nellie’s life
    6. A reality many of us have discovered when faced with situations we were not sure we could manage
    7. When Jesus told the disciples to feed the people
    8. The disciples thought that it was impossible
    9. The needs were so great
    10. And the resources so few
    11. Have we not felt the same way?
    12. However, when the disciples worked together and followed Jesus
    13. They had more than enough
    14. This is not the only time that disciples have discovered the power of the Holy Spirit to do great things when Christians join together in unity and faithfulness to God’s good purposes for the world
    15. The promise of the story of the feeding of the five thousand is that if we join together in unity and faithfulness
    16. God will be with us
    17. It is not a promise of the absence of struggle and pain
    18. Jesus even had to go the way of the cross
    19. But a promise that God will be with us

And that God’s intention for love, peace, and justice in the world will ultimately prevail.

  1. As familiar as this story is to most of us
  2. It is a story we are called to tell Nellie
  3. I believe that the message is still new and important
  4. The message of God’s love for every single one of us
  5. Can not be stressed enough
  6. God loves you, unconditionally, always and forever
  7. And God calls each of us to be disciples
  8. To be God’s hands and feet in the world
  9. And when we join together the power of God’s love can break through even in the most unlikely places
  10. When we work together seeking God’s good intentions for our world
  11. The feeding of the five thousand on that hillside in Galilee two thousand years ago was a miracle for the people assembled there that day
  12. But the deeper miracle is God’s love for the six billion people on our planet today
  13. And the miracle that each and every one of us is called to be a partner with God
  14. So that God’s love is a reality for everyone.
  15. Thanks be to God
  16. Amen