NINTH SUNDAY after PENTECOST
“Five Loaves & Two Fish” Sunday
PRAYER OF THE DAY
Heavenly Father, your blessed Son came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world. Give us this bread, that he may live in us and we in him, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
FIRST LESSON Isaiah 55:1-5
[God invites Israel to a great feast at which both food and drink are free. God also promises to make an everlasting covenant with all peoples, with promises that previously had been limited to Israel. As David was a witness to the nations, nations shall now acknowledge the ways in which God has glorified Israel.]
(The Lord said) "Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, My steadfast, sure love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for He has glorified you."
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
SECOND LESSON Romans 9:1-5
[This begins a new section in Paul’s letter in which he will deal with the place of Israel in God’s saving plan. He opens by highlighting how Israel’s heritage and legacy include being God’s children, having God’s covenants,
being given God’s law, participating in worship of God, and receiving divine promises.]
I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears witness in the Holy
Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that
I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen
according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the
patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all,
blessed forever. Amen.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
HOLY GOSPEL Matthew 14:13-21
[After John the Baptist is murdered, Jesus desires a time of solitude. Still his compassion for others will not allow him to dismiss those who need him, and he is moved to perform one of his greatest miracles.]
Now when Jesus heard [about the death of John], he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
HOMILY More Than Enough
Text: The Gospel Lesson Pr. Jim
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
In today’s Gospel we have accounts of two very different dinner parties. The one dinner party is obvious … Matthew’s take on the Feeding of the 5000 … a miracle story so very familiar that people who have never walked into a church’s sanctuary on a Sunday morning can repeat it. But we also have an echo of an earlier dinner party that reverberates through the text even though it is only alluded to in today’s reading. That dinner party sets the conditions that surround the feeding of the 5000, and lays out for us the difference between human self-centeredness and divine compassion.
Our reading begins with Jesus “withdrawing” to a “deserted place” after hearing the news that Herod had beheaded John the Baptist (14:1-12) at a dinner party probably arranged to celebrate Herod’s birthday. You remember this one … right? … that ended with the infamous dessert course, which was John the Baptist’s head carried in for all to see on a silver (presumably) platter. Herod Antipas … tetrarch or king of Judea … was married to Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife who had divorced Philip in order to marry his richer and more powerful brother. That was a definite “no-no” for the religious establishment … a violation of Mosaic Law … that had been papered over to avoid upsetting Herodias … who held a vicious grudge against John the Baptist who was a constant and loudly vocal critic of the marriage and of Herodias herself.
So, Herod had imprisoned John the Baptist … in part to get him to shut up and maybe in part because he was too afraid to kill him outright since Israel saw John as the prophet he was. Herodias sent her 15 year-old daughter to dance for what was probably an all-male event. Salome so pleased her step-father that he foolishly offered her whatever she wanted … even up to half of his kingdom. Herod … after chugging a few too many jars of wine … was probably plumping up his ego in front of the movers and shakers in his kingdom. Taking advantage of the situation Herodias told Salome to go back to Herod and beg for the head of John the Baptist. In other words, she told her daughter to request the assassination of one of her mother’s critics. Salome returned to the dinner party, made her request of her king, and we are told in Matthew 14, verse 9 that, “The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in prison.”
None of which should be a surprise if we read history. This is what kings have always done; it’s their nature and the nature of earthly kingship. But it’s not the nature of the true King of kings, nor of his rule over the kingdom of heaven. Divine compassion is our Lord’s nature, and we are reminded of it again in the first lines of today’s Gospel. We read that when Jesus heard of the death of his cousin John the Baptist, “he withdrew from there to a desolate place by himself.” Jesus took himself away from his disciples and the crowds that followed him so he could grieve the death of family without the needy presence of hundreds of people bearing down on him. But they were needy, those people who followed Jesus to hear of the kingdom of heaven and to be forgiven their sins and healed of all their diseases. They were lost sheep whose shepherd had found them, and so they followed him to where he went. And although our Lord wanted to be alone in his grief, “he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
But our Lord’s compassion didn’t end with healing the sick. There were many in the crowd that day … 5000 men as well as the women and children who accompanied them into the desolate area between towns to be healed and to hear Jesus preach about the coming of the kingdom of heaven in his person. I have no doubt that sinners that they were … most of them were there for their most immediate need … to escape illness, disability, and death. They might not have much wanted to hear the preaching at all, even though God’s saving Word can heal even death. The Word of God comes first, the healing and even the miraculous meal to follow are the means by which the Word is made manifest in the world. They are the exclamation point that ends Jesus’ sermon.
You see, the most miraculous aspect of this event is not the wondrous multiplication of loaves and fishes. It is God’s continued faithfulness … faithfulness that endures forever. Daily, God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, offers us the sustenance of his Word. The goods of the kingdom are received as a gift. They come with Jesus’ blessing (v. 19): meaning they come free of charge with no strings attached. His death and resurrection offers us a new start … free for the receiving. Weekly he feeds us for our growth in his grace with his own body and blood. Like the best-ever host of the best-ever dinner party, we are invited to sit with our brother Jesus, and receive from his own hands the bread of heaven and the cup of salvation. He calls us to follow him … to be his apprentices in the faith, formed and reformed by his Word and living under the shelter of his compassion.
Jesus asks us to yield up to him our self-absorption with our own place in our families … our worksites … or even this church, so that we might together be more compassionate and caring for others. “Don’t miss the need,” Jesus says. “See it and act on it.” Jesus desires and wants our participation as co-workers in the kingdom. He would have us be good hosts of his Word and Sacraments, that through us his saving work may done.
There’s more than enough for everyone … the Gospel reminds us. The simple eloquence of 12 baskets of leftovers speaks volumes. There was more than enough for everyone. Here at this communion table our souls are fed with tiny pieces of bread and little sips of wine. In the bread and wine, the very body and blood of our Lord … there is more than enough for each of us … enough strength … enough courage … enough patience … enough consolation … enough hope … enough company … enough love … enough to eat … enough to share … more than enough to share!
On this 9th Sunday after Pentecost, we might as well give all these away today, since we can’t have tomorrow’s strength, patience, or love anyway. (until tomorrow)
Fill us with your love, O Lord, and make us content with the richness of your banquet. Through us distribute a goodly share to all the world for in you there is more than enough. Amen.
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
PRAYERS of THE CHURCH
With the whole people of God, let us join in prayer for The Church, the world, and all of God’s creation.
Lord of all, your bountiful creation offers sustenance and life for all creatures. Protect the well-being of all. Reverse the damage we have caused your creation. Replenish ground water supplies, provide needed rains in places of drought, and protect forests from wildfires. When your word is opened, it gives light and understanding to our lives. Guide the work of scientists and researchers in their pursuit of a vaccine to combat COVID-19 and bring an end to the pandemic and its effects. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Lord of the nations, you offer yourself to all the peoples of the earth, inviting everyone to abundant life. Bring the prophetic vision to fullness, that all nations will run to you and that nations who do not know you will find their joy in you. Direct the leaders of all nations to build trust with each other and walk the way of peace. Increase their desire for justice and equality. Bridge the chasms that divide us as a nation during these days of protests, violence, and civil unrest; bring calm to our anxiousness and bless us with the necessary healing and change that only you can give. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Lord of all care and hope, you open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. Hear the anguish of tender hearts who cry to you and satisfy their deepest needs and longings. Bring wholeness and healing to those who suffer in body, heart, soul, and mind. Open our eyes to see and attend all who are in need, especially your servants Sarah and Shari who are under doctor’s care, together with those we name in the secrecy of our hearts … brief pause … with your love, surround those of our parish who are homebound especially Sharon, Joyce, Richard & Doris, Rusty, Bonnie, Vernia, and Elma. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Lord of renewal, you freely offer the fulness of salvation. Give our congregation such a welcoming heart, that our words and actions may extend your free and abundant hospitality to all whom we encounter. Refresh us with new dreams of being your people in this time and place. As we meet in assembly this morning to discuss calling Patrick to serve as vicar during his studies leading towards ordination as our pastor, help us to discern your will for Patrick and for us so that in all things your good and gracious will may be done. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Lord of life, you gather your saints as one in your eternal presence. Strengthen us by their faithful witness and embolden us in our lives of witness until we, too, are gathered together with all your saints in light. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Receive our prayers, merciful God, and dwell in us richly, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Father who art in heaven;
hallowed be Thy Name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those
who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom
and the power and the glory
forever and ever. Amen.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and give you + peace. Amen.