God Provides

This morning, we have one of the most famous stories in all of scripture:
Jesus miraculously feeds a crowd of about 5 thousand people.

Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 echoes the miraculous feeding performed through Elisha, as read in our Old Testament text.

These stories had me pondering a common phrase heard: “God provides”.

Although it is true that God provides for all our needs, we still bear witness to people who go without clean clothing, food, or shelter in our world. We struggle to reconcile this, because we also desire to distance ourselves from the need; thus, limiting our notion of how God provides for us and neighbor.

Perhaps, the most infamous statement of Pope Francis to date is:

You pray for the hungry. 
Then you feed them.
That is how prayer works. 

God provides abundantly.
We, humans, are stewards of those gifts with the responsibility to ensure all in need have access to and receive the necessary basics: clothing, food, and shelter.

Due to the abundance, it is easy to question why homelessness and hungry exists. 

On Facebook, there is a relatively often shared post that basically reads:

I thought about asking God why God allows evil to exist,
but I am afraid that God would ask me the same question.

 So, let us pose the question with a slight edit:

I thought about asking God why God allows homelessness/hunger/poverty to exist,
but I am afraid that God would ask me the same question.

God provides abundantly.
We live in a country and world of abundance.
We live in a country and world where people are still in need.

Jesus noted the large number of people.
Jesus asked how the disciples and he could provide enough food for the hungry crowd.

Philip is overwhelmed stating that 6 months worth of wages could not buy enough food.
Andrew notes a boy who has 5 loaves and 3 fish, which would not be enough food.

Jesus takes the loaves and fish.
Jesus blesses the food.
The disciples and Jesus distributes the food into the crowd of five thousand.

After the crowd ate, their bellies were full and the fragments of bread were collected.
It was 12 baskets in all. THAT is an abundance.

Although it is not particularly clear in this gospel account, the other gospel accounts of Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the 5,000 has the disciples recognizing the need of the hungry crowd and bring their concern to Jesus the Christ. Then, he responds.

As followers of Christ, we are called to have eyes open to need in our world.

As followers of Christ, we are called to have open hearts for the Holy Spirit to work in, among, through, and even despite us in order to care for ALL people, ALL creatures, and ALL creation.

The open eyes to need and the open heart to respond was central in this week’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) program. We invited the youth and their families, as able and so moved, to donate non-perishable food items or change to purchase meals for the hungry in our world. In addition to the non-perishable food items we collected enough funds for 529 meals (1 meal = $0.25)*.

God provides abundantly.

We are beginning a five-week series about Jesus the Christ as “the Bread of Life”, which teaches that we do not need physical bread that fills our bellies alone, but also the spiritual bread that is the Bread of Heaven, the Bread of Life, and the Living Bread. This bread is Jesus the Christ, which can provide for the whole world.

As we begin this journey, I am asking you to ponder bread and its sustainability for us not simply physically in our daily tasks but also the bread at Holy Communion that strengthens us in grace for our baptismal calling to seek justice, to act with compassion and mercy, and to love and serve ALL people.

May we find the bread that sustains us, physically and spiritually, to be in abundance. Amen.

*The loose offering also went towards these meals, which ultimately equaled 800 meals. 

Scriptures were 2 Kings 4: 42-44 and John 6: 1-21.
Originally Preached on July 29, 2018 at Trinity Lutheran (Union City, Indiana).

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