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
Care for the earth
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.
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.
That simple event,
Led to the reunification of Europe after decades of separation
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-
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
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,
Yes to abundance.
Nuff for all.
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
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.
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.