UPDATE 5/4/2020: Read the most recent statement by Bishop Mariann Budde, outlining a 4-phase plan, as developed by the Bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia. This plan goes as far as possible at present to answer the frequently asked question, “When will we be able to regather?”
Please note that many St. Mark’s gatherings, including Sunday worship, are now taking place online.
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13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:13-21
I have a sermon on this passage, I think I may have preached it before and there is a part of me that thinks come up with something else, tell another story, so I will tell this story. I was hanging out with some youth from my church, one of the churches that I served in Minnesota. It was Saturday night and they were doing an overnight in the church and I announced I had to go and finish my sermon.
One of the teenagers asked me if I was preaching what I always preached.
I asked what did I always preach?
He said, “you know, Blah, Blah, Blah, God loves you, Blah, Blah.”
SO a couple of things I want to point out about this passage, this gospel story…which is referred to as the feeding of the five thousand. Just to be clear it is the feeding of five thousand men. I refer to this as the feeding of the 20,000 because the last line of the text is “besides women and children.” I will as I always do, low ball this and say man + woman+ 2 children. = 20,000. So the first point of this gospel is that it is so much more an amazing feat to feed them all, and all means men women and children.
The second point is that the miracle is that Jesus got them to share their food, the miracle is that they ate food, that they were not sure was kosher; they ate food from an unknown source. They sat on a hillside and ate together. People in the Ancient Near East did not do that, they had to keep dietary laws that were religious in nature but also these laws kept them safe. Jesus out doing all day Jesusy things helped them be together, share, and eat together. That was the miracle
The question I have this morning is why? What Jesusy things was he doing that had them move to that point?
Well…. Not only did he teach with them, parable after parable, story after story he spent time with them, and he withdrew got on a boat and moved to another place in says in the text that, “Moved to compassion Jesus moved along them and healed them.”
Moved to compassion, what a great phrase. What a wonderful way to hear about moving through the world. What an amazing aspirational stance to take when you look at people. I looked at people and I was moved to compassion. We look at a group of people and we are moved to compassion. We look at each other and we are moved to compassion.
My zucchini plant has some weird bug that has bored into it and it destroying it from the inside out. The plant will die, yet if you build the dirt up near it, the stems will root down, and then the plant changes and cuts off the diseased part from its ecosystem and allow for new growth. That is what compassion can do for us.
Jesus moved into the crowd and filled with compassion he healed them. The crowd witnesses to this compassion got more compassionate and acted with compassion to and for each other. That is what happens, we can and should catch compassion for each other.
One of the ways that happen is that we gather as a church, we receive. It is a gift to receive communion and since March 15th we have not done so. Today we move into a more traditional service of communion.
Order wafers, we will bless and drop off or mail you a months worth, use bread and wine at home if you have, it is all good. We are working on doing a zoom communion for you all who are self quarantining. So that you can receive/ eat together. We are hoping that this is a way for you to be reminded of the compassion that Jesus brought with him into that crowd of people. There is more information in our electronic newsletter we send out on Friday.
One of the other ways that we attempt to be more than our base nature is when we baptize, no matter the age of the person we all affirm our promises in baptism. Every time we say these promises
Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
I will, with God’s help. And Perhaps we can say it corporately WE will with God’s help
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
WE will, with God’s help.
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
WE will, with God’s help.
We will with God’s help, show compassion
check in with each other
wear your mask
love one another
offer thoughts and prayers to each other
In this we act in compassion
we see compassion we continue to be compassionate
We put down different roots, and change, we embody productive, loving, and compassionate change.