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Sermon for Matthew 14:13-21   -   Our Lord's Abundant Table
Proper 13
           

Charles Swindol tells a funny story about a nine-year-old named Danny who came bursting out of Sunday school like a wild stallion. His eyes were darting in every direction as he tried to locate either mom or dad. Finally, after a quick search, he grabbed his Daddy by the leg and yelled, "Man, that story of Moses and all those people crossing the Red Sea was great!" His father looked down, smiled, and asked the boy to tell him about it.

"Well, the Israelites got out of Egypt, but Pharaoh and his army chased after them. So the Jews ran as fast as they could until they got to the Red Sea. The Egyptian Army was gettin' closer and closer. So Moses got on his walkie-talkie and told the Israeli Air Force to bomb the Egyptians. While that was happening, the Israeli Navy built a pontoon bridge so the people could cross over. They made it!

By now old dad was shocked. "Is THAT the way they taught you the story?"

Well, no, not exactly," Danny admitted, "but if I told you the way they told it to us, you'd never believe it, Dad."

With childlike innocence the little guy put his finger on the pulse of our sophisticated adult world where cool skepticism reigns supreme. It's more popular to operate in the black-and-white world of facts. . .and, of course, to leave no space for the miraculous.

And so when we read the story of the feeding of the five thousand, we tend to focus our attention on the question, "Did it really happen?" There have been a number of attempts to "explain" the miracle. One attempt says that the people were so moved by Jesus' generosity and the generosity of the little boy that they brought forth the food they had hidden under their clothes and in their traveling pouches. This way everyone was satisfied. Another theory says that the story is not really talking about physical hunger but spiritual hunger. When the small amount of food was passed around everyone tore off a minuscule symbolic fragment. In this Jesus is said to have satisfied the thirst of the soul not the stomach.

I think these questions say more about us than they do Jesus. If Jesus is the Messiah, and I believe he is, then there is no question but that he performed miracles, and on a regular basis. The point of the story of feeding of the five thousand is not to prove that miracles happen. The point of the story is to teach us three things:

1. Jesus is the Fulfillment of the Word.
2. We Are to Serve at the Table of the Lord.
3. We Can Use Our Abilities in Service.

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