The Rev. Joseph Peters-Mathews
29 July 2018
Proper 12, B / Pentecost +10
St. Joseph-St. John, Lakewood
This is week one of five
of John 6:
the Bread of Life.
Given that this bread that comes down from heaven
is why I’m an Episcopalian,
let alone a priest,
I am extremely excited about these next five weeks.
Buckle up friends!
John 6 is a work of theological mastery.
We’re not looking at Mark’s
hack and slash Greek,
not looking at a one-person play
about Jesus of Nazareth.
In John we have 40-50 years of being church
turned into story.
We’re hearing not just the life of Jesus
but how the church has lived
with the resurrected and ascended Jesus.
John 6 is a piece.
I’d encourage you to read the whole thing this week!
Today sets the stage for us:
feeding a multitude.
Jesus is getting a reputation
and crowds are following him.
He’s getting known as someone healing the sick.
We’re all looking for some kind of healing,
When Jesus goes up the mountain and sees a crowd
he's concerned that they be able to eat.
Not only does he want them to eat,
he wants his troupe of followers to feed the crowds.
The disciples scoff, “How are we going to do that?
Even six months’ wages
wouldn’t be enough
to feed this many people
even a little bit!”
Then Andrew says,
“Well, this boy has five loaves and two fish.”
That’s all it takes for Jesus to have the people sit down.
The people following Jesus
Jesus gives thanks for
what the boy has offered
and thanking God that bread and fish exist.
They don’t eat just a little
like the disciples were concerned for.
They eat until they’re satisfied.
They eat until they’re full.
Then Jesus has the disciples collect the leftovers
There was more than enough.
When I think about this multitude sitting down,
five thousand people John tells us,
I think about public parks
in places where the sun stays up late in the summer.
The image of a multitude
that is most firmly in my head
are the thousands of people who every sunny evening
line the banks of Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis
and the banks of the Seine opposite the islands.
Jesus works a miracle
by giving thanks for what’s offered
and seeing that everyone has enough.
It’s unlikely that no one following Jesus brought food
except for one little boy.
It’s also unlikely that anyone planned
to feed people other than their family.
Times were tough,
and you had to eat what you had.
Jesus has the disciples collect the leftovers.
There was more than enough.
I’ve seen a similar miracle
in the evening on the Seine.
A friend brings a sausage,
someone else brings brie,
someone else the baguettes,
and someone else the wine.
They have more bread than they can eat alone.
But no one brought a cork screw!
So they ask a neighbor…who forgot a cheese knife.
Someone else’s cheeseboard has extra room on it.
They make a friend if only for the evening,
they share their bread, wine, cheese and meat,
and no one goes hungry.
A group of three friends,
is now a group of eighteen sharing in common
and eating until the sun goes down.
We live in a world that values independence
That’s not new to the human condition
or even a specifically American contribution to life.
Yet on the Seine,
on the mountain,
relying on Jesus,
and eating together here
none of us stands totally alone.
This miracle of giving thanks,
feeding until everyone is satisfied
and there being to go boxes leftover
wasn’t a one-time thing from Jesus’ ministry.
We have boxes of bread
and send people home with food on Wednesday nights.
It may not be twelve baskets,
but it’s more than enough.
We have more than enough,
and when Jesus moves with us to share,
we see the extra
and we pass it on for others to use.
Jesus’ feeding the crowds and healing them
is the starting point for his talking about
the bread of life.
The bread that comes down from heaven,
the bread that lets us live forever.
We feed a crowd here.
The work we do and the leftovers we have
are miracles from God.
As Marilyn Haskel said in a fraction anthem,
“Broken bread to share with one another,
the Lamb of God the sacrifice.
When we share our bread with one another,
the Lamb of God will make us one.”
Boxes of bread and cucumbers.
There’s more than enough. Amen.