Homily: July 26, 2015

Pentacost 9, YEAR B; Rev. Phil Boelter, Vicar Nuff for all.

 

This was the theme of summer camp at Good Earth camp

in southern Minnesota

When I attended there with my ELCA youth group in the 1990’s.

 

All week long we studied and lived and breathed

Recycling

Zero waste

Care for the earth

Sustainable agriculture.

 

If I EVER see another compost heap full of camp meal leftovers,

It will be TOO SOON.

 

Because we were pastors,

and we had cars,

we clergy could escape into the nearby town of Preston at night.

We made daily runs to the Dairy Queen,

for non sustainable

french fries and burgers and blizzards.

 

But that week did teach us all

how we all could take concrete steps to irradicate hunger.

 

“Nuff for all”

could also be the theme of our gospel reading this morning.

 

Jesus pushes the disciples to feed the hungry thousands themselves.

All they can produce is a boy’s lunchbox-

the famous five loaves and two fish.

 

Jesus takes the little that they have on hand and blesses it.

Then they give the snack sized meal out to the thousands of men women and children

who are gathered on the hillsides.

 

Low and behold:

there was Nuff for all!

 

Can it really be true?

 

What’s at stake here

is not just a one time food miracle

to feed hungry followers for a day.

 

But something much bigger lurks behind these verses.

 

Could there be such abundance everywhere in creation?

Could Jesus and the disciples be tapping in to some hidden reserve of unknown resources,

something the rest of us hungry fools only dream about?

 

Paul's prayer sets this concept of abundance in a world context.

 

In our second reading this morning the Apostle asks God

on behalf of the Ephesians to whom he is writing:

 

“I pray that you may have the power to comprehend,

with all the saints,

what is the breadth and length

and height and depth,

and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,

so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

 

It’s not about what you and I have individually

On our dinner plates or in our bank accounts

that makes up abundance.

 

It’s the FULLNESS,

the richness which God has given to everyone that marks

a real difference between abundance and scarcity.

 

How can this be?

 

Three insights occur to me from our two readings today.

 

First,

When producing Nuff for all

God always uses what we have.

 

Jesus asked the disciples what they had.

They opened the lunchbox and found five loaves and two fish.

 

It wasn’t much.

But it was what they had.

 

The first step to abundance for them

was to hand over what they had to Jesus,

So he could take it and bless it.

 

Jesus didn’t create something out of nothing-

He took the very stuff of the disciples’ lives-

Something as practical as a boy’s lunch.

And God used it to create Nuff for all.

 

The Second step-

Is that God puts us in community.

It is there where we find Nuff for all.

 

Note that the focus in the story moves from the individual lunch to the larger group.

 

Jesus has the group assemble, expectantly,

As if something important is going to happen.

 

God produces abundance not through the lone ranger

But through community.

 

Remember the fall of the Berlin Wall?

For years people had been wringing their hands,

Proclaiming in speeches-

Pointing at the wall

And saying it should come down.

 

But it was when the thought moved from solitary lives

into the larger community

That the walls of separation fell,

And Berlin became a city reunited.

 

In turn,

That simple event,

Led to the reunification of Europe after decades of separation

And deprivation.

 

In terms of our story,

We move from the individual lunchbox

To the smorgasbord-

With a lavish table laid out,

A community table,

A table for all the people to pull a chair up to and dine.

 

When I was a child,

On very special occasions

My parents would take our family to a Swedish smorgasbord restaurant

In Dallas called “A Little Bit of Sweden.”

 

We all marveled at the lazy susan turntables

which revolved around from kitchen to dining room-

always laden with really good things-

Meats. Cheeses

Swedish meatballs and pastries.

 

That is my image for God’s abundance-

Always moving, changing, being refilled and replenished

And we are the welcome guests at this table

Of God’ abundance.

Nuff for all.

 

When we ponder the height and the depth

And the width and the breadth of Gods creation

And God’s generosity in making all this for all of us

What happens to us?

 

The divine generosity motivates us to generosity,

The sharing of our resources one with another

Sharing of money and time and talent-

But even more of spirit.

 

This is how God’s generosity moves from a single lunchbox to lavish table-

Through our own hearts

And own resources being shared.

 

Paul captured this vision perfectly

When he ended his prayer in this way:

 

Now to him who by the power at work within us

is able to accomplish abundantly

far more than all we can ask or imagine,

to God be glory in the church

and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

 

The greatest barrier to abundance is not simply insufficient

food, water, fertilizer- stuff

Although all that is very real.

 

It's also our own attitudes.

 

We can't always control stuff

But God has so constructed us

That -

barring mental illness or physical mental spiritual abuse

we do have control over our attitudes.

 

Thomas Aquinas called it the citadel of the will-

And he said it was the core of God’s image in every person-

The most beautiful and lavishly furnished room in all God’s realm.

 

With our will we can say yes to God,

To human relationships,

To faith hope and love,

And today

Yes to abundance.

Nuff for all.

 

That yes

makes acts of mercy more than charity-

it unites them with God’s very heart.

 

Everyone in this room is free to find and explore

The height depth width breadth of all creation

Under God.

 

This is the worthy example

Of the loaves and fishes.

A sign of God’s abundance in our midst.

 

But there is another sign I’d like to show you today.

 

It was found in the window well between the church and Gethsemane Center parish house

One morning before Church.

 

And I keep it in my office as a reminder-

Of the task set before us at Gethsemane.

 

(Read sign)

 

In a few days you will be receiving word of our capital campaign

Which will help move us forward in love

To be able to continue responding to needs like this

Here at the corner of 9th Street and 4th Ave.

Some will be able to give generousily,

Some less and some of us not at all.

 

But in every case

Brothers and sisters,

by the power at work within us

God is able to accomplish abundantly

far more than all we can ask or imagine.

 

Taking the five loaves and two fish of our lives

And making from it

And through this gathered faith community

Nuff for all.

 

Amen.