Sunday, July 31, 2011
There is no such thing as a free lunch. Not anymore.
Two dogs got away with it.
Bummer and Lazarus lived in Old San Francisco, before the Great Earthquake and Fire.
Lazarus got hit by a freight truck but he lived to wag his tail. Bummer - was the king of the moochers. He was always bumming a meal. And his friend Lazarus tagged along.
They went from bar to bar in the old Barbary Coast. And there was a free lunch.
The idea of the barkeepers was to lay out a spread - or maybe pickled eggs and franks - so that folks would come in and buy a drink. Mostly it worked.
Unless you were a dog - and a teetotaller.
* * *
Isaiah says, come and eat. Come and get it. Your money isn’t good here. There is no price. Come and eat and drink to your heart’s content. Receive the fullness of God’s grace.
His mercy is without limit or fee. You cannot pay for it. You could not afford it.
* * *
Jesus went off by himself for a while. Seeking a little peace, perhaps. He went to a deserted place. But the people followed him. Moved with compassion he went among them, healing. They were a hungry crowd, hungry for grace, hungry – for dinner. And they were in a deserted place.
His disciples saw a lack of resources. Send them away – so they can fend for themselves. They can go buy something in a village somewhere.
They don’t need to go away, Jesus responds. You give them something. Here.
You have something to give.
And it will be enough for them. It will more than satisfy. It will be an abundance of good food, the stuff of life.
But we only have this here, here in the desert, enough for ourselves.
Nonsense. Bring them here, here to me, in God’s presence.
Here and now.
What Jesus gave them was an experience of the bountiful goodness of God.
When have we been like the crowd? Hungering, in need of compassion? Thirsting for what only God can give?
When have we been like the disciples when they were lost in a sense of their own limitation and need?
When have we been like the disciples when they take the bread and give it to the people?
May we take the bread from heaven and make it bread for the world.
* * *
Jesus gave them an experience of the bountiful good ness of God.
He did not shame them, or say, “What! That’s all you got?? What good is that to me?”
No – he took the offering, and he gave thanks to God.
One true God who created all things: blessed are you – your reign is eternal. You bring forth bread from the earth.
He broke it and shared it out.
The bread they offered, the bread that came from God, bread from heaven, became bread for the world.
All are welcome at the Lord’s Table, and receive abundance there.
For his grace takes what we offer, and makes of it a miracle, a sign of God’s everlasting faithfulness and steadfast love.
The staff of life, in the hands of the source of life, is made a gift that transforms those who give it.
Once small in faith and doubting they now in faith step forward and take the bread and give it out.
Growing in confidence, they see God’s hand at work in the world through them! Through the gift they had made – from five loaves and two fishes.
All they had, they gave. God shows, in this moment, that his love is more than enough.
Humankind lives not by bread alone but by the Word of God. The Word of God – he who is before them, honoring them in the Gift.
What they gave is not wasted. It is gathered up in its abundance.
When have we been hungry, seeking, reaching out for healing and compassion?
Surely at first this was the disciples’ state too. We all need that comfort, that compassion, and that love.
When have we been like the disciples, uncertain of our offering, of its adequacy?
When have we been like the disciples, astounded by what God does with what we bring to the table?
And perhaps, rejoicing by now, we take the transformed offering and share it out.
Bread from heaven indeed – now bread for the world.
* * *
May we take the bread from heaven, the manna in the wilderness, that is the true word of true God, from whom all things depend, and make of it a gift, of holy sustenance, bread for the world.
May we not stint, but share it out in confidence, knowing that he is faithful who called us to the task. He is loving, who gave his own life that we might live. He is the foundation of our hope. He who was raised and is glorified and remembered, may we remember him, every time in the breaking of the bread. Amen.
APentecost7, Proper 13, Isaiah 55:1-5, Psalm 145: 8-9, 15-22, Romans 9:1-5, Matthew 14:13-21