Trinity Episcopal Church
Year A - Proper 13 - August 3, 2014
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Almost the whole month of July, we heard stories of sowers and seeds, and fields, pearls of great value and fishing nets… all the images that Jesus uses in his parables to describe what the kingdom of God is like...
Last week, Sara even took us through a wonderful litany of what the kingdom of God may be like… and then challenged us to think about what the kingdom may be like for us, in our day and time… We have heard a lot about what the Kingdom of God may be like – but I like to think of the kingdom as the very best thing that I could ever imagine, actually better than the best thing I could ever imagine.
Jesus takes us away from his parables and descriptions of the Kingdom, away from the phrases ‘the kingdom of God is Like…” to a place away… he gets into a boat and withdraws to a deserted place by himself. He goes off to get away in order to rest and recuperate.
However, Jesus has gained a reputation as a great healer and the crowds don’t leave him alone. They follow him on foot to the place where he is, and he has compassion for them and heals their sick. We need to understand that this was an enormous crowd, almost of an unimaginable in size = five thousand men plus women and children.
It was getting late in the day, so the disciples came to Jesus and told him to send the crowds away so the people could go and get something to eat in the nearby villages and towns… but Jesus, does the unimaginable and tells the disciples not to send them away, but for them to give them something to eat.
The disciples scurry around and gather up what provisions they can find among themselves. The disciples come up with 5 loaves and 2 fish… barely enough for the 12, let alone a crowd of thousands. And then, in a very simple act, Jesus takes what is given to him, gives thanks, and distributes it among the multitudes.
There was no show… no lightning bolts from heaven or booming thunder. Just a simple act of thanksgiving and then giving…
When we studied this scripture this week in our clergy Bible Study on Wednesday morning, I asked the question. “what is the miracle?” I was trying to go deeper into the scripture and take a story that seems so familiar and try to understand what Jesus wants us to learn…
The miracle could have been just that Jesus simply took what was given and made it enough to satisfy everyone… Or it could have been that Jesus caused more bread and fish to appear… Or it could have been that the gesture was so bold, that Jesus and the disciples were so willing to give everything that they had for the benefit of others… that people gave of themselves to provide for others. Thereby causing the miracle of the breaking forth of the kingdom of God.
However, what I think actually happened is irrelevant. The truth in the act of the feeding of the multitudes was that enough was made out of very scarce resources. Enough for 5000 men, and women and children. Enough, that after it was distributed and everyone got their fill, 12 baskets of scraps were collected.
In the previous weeks, we heard a lot about what the kingdom of God is like… but this morning, we actually get a glimpse of that very kingdom breaking forth into this world.
The Kingdom of God is right here in front of us and we get a very vivid picture of what the world should be as the Kingdom of God breaks forth… and everyone has enough regardless of who they are. There is no more ‘the kingdom of God is like…’Because we are living it and experiencing it through the account of Jesus feeding the multitudes.
The people are gathered together… there, in a deserted place, unknowingly seated at the foot of the creator of the universe… and he makes no claim to his authority or majesty, but he gives up everything he has in order to feed the others around him.
That is what the Kingdom of God is. The kingdom of God is a Kingdom where the compassionate king gives all for us… The king gives up his food so that we might have enough to eat. The king, full of love, gives up everything, even his life, so that we might live and have everlasting life.
Today we leave the parables of the kingdom behind for a preview of the real thing. And once we have experienced the kingdom, once we have encountered God, we are like Jacob, and we are forever changed.