Monday, July 27, 2015

Sermon for July 26, 2015: 5+2=plus sign

 This sermon was preached by Rev. Mark Peterson at Christ the King Lutheran church on Sunday, July 26, 2015.

Gospel: John 6:1–21
 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.  2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.  3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.  4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.  5When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?"  6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.  7Philip answered him, "Six months' wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little."  8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him,  9There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?  10Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.  11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.  12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost."  13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.  14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world."
             15When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
             16When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,  17got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.  18The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.  19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified.  20But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."  21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.
Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ,

We are a people Chosen To Proclaim. 
Chosen To Proclaim God's Love.
Chosen To Proclaim God's abundant creativeness for all people.
Chosen to Proclaim Jesus Christ, whom God sent into this world, so that all people may know God's love.
This is what we are chosen for, to show God's grace to others.

There's a trend in proclamations out there. People are making proclamations about themselves on their cars. Of course bumper stickers have been around for a long time, but in the past years, I've seen many more proclamations of mere numbers on these stickers. 

For instance, 13.1, which means someone in the car has run a half-marathon. Or, 26.2 - a full marathon. Or the one that I am going to get, 26.2 x 10, and I only have to run ten more marathons before I can put it on my car. 

The trend isn't just for road races. Maybe you'll see someone with a sticker that says 2181. Can you guess what that is for? It is a proclamation that the person has hiked the 2181 miles of the Appalachian Trail. 

And then there's the sticker for the rest of us. 0.0
These signs, proclaim things about us. Sure, not everything about us, but something, and it's why people put them up. 

In the book of John, the miracles that Jesus performs, including the one we read about today, where he feeds 5000 people with only five loaves and two fish, are referred to as signs. They are signs from Jesus, for the people, so that they may know he is truly from God, so that they may reveal, as John's Gospel starts, that he is the Light which has come into the world. The Light which darkness cannot overcome. These miracles are done so that the people around Jesus can see by whose authority it is, that Jesus is carrying out his ministry. They are there for the people to see some of the nature of God. They are there so that the people can see that Jesus is sent by the Father, that indeed Jesus is God. 

These miracles are signs, and if Jesus was around today, I thought about what kind of signs he might have on his car. Maybe one that said, my other car is...I don't need another car. 

Or perhaps he'd have a sign that said, 3.5. Yes, 3.5, but if people said that didn't seem like a great distance, he could say that it was all done while walking on water. 

Or, Jesus could have a sign that said, 5+2=5000. 5 loaves, plus 2 fish, is what the boy gave to Jesus, and with it, 5000 people had the ultimate fish fry. There was so much food, that all had there fill, and there was still 12 baskets left over. What a miracle, what a sign. 

As I thought about us, being Chosen to Proclaim, and what signs of proclamation we might have. I though, we could put 5+2=5000 on our cars, but that sets a pretty high bar. Proclaiming this Jesus who does these miracles, doesn't seem very realistic today. I'm not discounting that there are miracles out there, but we humans have little control over them, or have a real good sense of their timing. So, if we drive around with 5+2=5000, and someone says prove it, it might be a little difficult for us to bring to life, what we are proclaiming. 

As we read today, this story of Jesus' miracle, what is our proclamation of it, and the one who would perform this sign. What things do we see about God in this sign. One thing we see, is that God is a God of abundance. There were only 5 loaves and 2 fish, and so many people, in fact, there were probably more than 10,000 people there, because as they other Gospels tell the story of this miracle, they say that the 5000 didn't count the women and children. Yet, Jesus turns this small amount into enough food for everyone and this shows that God, is a God of abundance, that God is creative, and that God has created more than enough. God has created this life with abundance, so that we don't just need to get by on the scraps, or the measly portions, but instead, God has created enough for everyone to get their fill. That's one thing this sign shows. 

Another thing that this sign shows, is that God is a God of grace. God gives us grace freely, as Jesus wasn't up there with all that food, checking off who could and couldn't eat, or how much each person could have. Everyone received their fill, regardless of who they were. Our story doesn't just say that those who were worthy ate. No, it says that all were fed, and fed until they were full. 

So, how do we proclaim this abundant grace? What kind of sign should we hang in our cars. What about, a sign that simply says 5+2, not for 5 loaves and 2 fish, but for the 7 days of the week, 5 weekdays and the 2 weekend that we each have been given. This sign could be a reminder for us, that like the boy, who had the 5 loaves and 2 fish, that we should bring our lives to Jesus, and watch him turn them into lives of abundance and grace. Watch him use us, to meet the needs of so many with each day that we have been given. 5+2=7 days for
Does this license plate say more about God,
or its owner?

I thought that this could be our sign. Yet, if we put this sign on our cars, and then came across a bad driver and started to honk, or heaven-forbid make an inappropriate gesture. If our human nature got the best of us, while we were telling everyone how we'd given this day to Jesus, it might not be such a good sign or proclamation. Though it is good for us to give each day over to the grace and love of God found in Jesus, our proclamation isn't about what we do, it's about Jesus. Our proclamation is about the Thanksgiving that Jesus has over all things, and it is about merely joining in that thanksgiving. 

In the bask of the story of this great feast that Jesus prepared for so many, we will be reading the rest of the 6th chapter of John over the next few weeks, and we will be given a lot of imagery about who Jesus is, who his disciples are, and how people generally respond to Jesus. So, I invite and encourage you over the next few weeks to read over John 6, to ask questions, to God, to yourself, to each other, to me, or even the internet. 
Over the next weeks, the theme of John 6, will be about bread. It will be about the Bread of Life which has been given to us, and will be given to us again today. This is the bread that's given to us today, regardless of whether we woke up with joy in our hearts and dedicated it to the Lord, or if we woke-up, looked outside, saw that it might rain, and thought to ourselves that worship would be inside, and it would be awful. (Which it's not...but you may have been thinking that.) 

Our proclamation in these weeks ahead, and over everyday, is indeed found on this 5+2 sign. It's the plus sign, right in the middle. The Cross, the ultimate sign and proclamation of God's unending love for all of creation. Love that is given for us even though we sin, even though we might look out on the world as the crowd did at all those people, and proclaim, what good are 5 loaves and 2 fish with so much need. The sign of the cross shows us that in spite of our unbelief, that Jesus believes for us, and God continues to act on our behalf. The sign calls us to join in that belief of Christ, to join in the great feast of life that Jesus gives to us of his body and blood. The proclamation, our proverbial sticker, is the sign of the cross. 

Now, I invite you, to think about numbers in your life, and when you do so, to remember the abundant grace of God that is in them. For myself, perhaps it is 1,2,1 for my spouse, children, and dog. Or 34, which is the amount of baptisms I've presided at, the 34 Children of God that I have had the privilege to mark with the ultimate sign and proclamation, the cross of Christ. If you have any numerical, Godly insights, please share them, with me, or someone else, so that we can do what we were chosen to do, and proclaim our loving God, for each other, and all the world. 

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 

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