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Delivered By
Pr. Lovett
Delivered On
July 22, 2012
Central Passage
Mark 8:1-9
Description

 

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
 
There is a connection to daily life that this holy gathering has that has been lost on us. The connection is the connection between this gathering and our daily bread. God gives daily bread to all people without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray that He would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.
 
No one goes home from this gathering with money in his pocket. In fact, some of us go home with less money than we arrived with. No one goes home having eaten to satisfy our bellies. In fact, sometimes we check our watches to see if the hunger we feel matches the time. If so, then pastor has preached too long. No one goes home from this gathering with more clothes for their back or for their children. No one having arrived homeless goes away having received a home.
 
But this was not always so.
 
There was an occasion when a multitude followed the Lord to hear His word and promise of the kingdom of heaven and they went away satisfied in their bellies as well as in their hearts. They went away to their homes rejoicing over the word heard and the food shared. Those who had – even though it seemed not enough for everyone – gave, and it was more than enough. And if they were strangers or even enemies before the Lord’s gathering, they went away friends and brothers so that one’s home was the home of another and one’s table was the table of another. For the Lord provides. He binds up and feeds and strengthens.  He puts the lonely in families and gives bread to the hungry when they call.
 
But this isn’t theological mumbo-jumbo. And I’m not referring to the feeding of the 4,000, not directly. But the miraculous feeding of the 4,000 is a picture, a living parable of the kingdom of heaven. It describes in actions instead of words what the gathering of the Lord is and looks like and what it does.
 
I’m referring to the congregations of saints. The gathering of the Lord hears the words of the Lord. The gathering of the Lord follows the Lord on the way to eternal life. The gathering of the Lord is fed by the hand of the Lord the way the Lord fed the congregation of the Israelites manna in the wilderness. The gathering of the Lord binds those who gather to the Lord so that when they go away they are no longer strangers or enemies or unknown faces in a crowd. They are brothers and sisters. They are sons and daughters. The fathers and mothers. They share their bread and their homes. They give what they have so others may eat and be clothed, even if they don’t think that what they have is enough to go around. The Lord will provide.
 
We often chalk this up to poetic theology. But there was a time when saints of God, that multitude following Jesus on the way, would gather around the servant of the word, the servant of Jesus who is the Word, and they would bring their food and clothes and other worldly goods. The pastor would take these things and having given thanks, he would break them – he would divide them up – and they would be distributed first to those who were without among the gathering. They called this the offering. And the leftovers that were gathered would be collected up and given to the poor outside the gathering. And those who received would be told that these things – this food and these clothes – are from the Lord who loves them and cares for them and welcomes them to His gathering and into His kingdom.
 
The followers of Jesus would set aside food and money and other such things to be brought to the gathering. Not to give to the church or to God who does not need or money or our clothes. But they brought them so that the Lord would bless them and give them out according to His will and purpose to those who had need. This is how the saints of God continued to care for this fallen garden once called “Eden”.
 
In that gathering of the Lord’s catechumen, the Lord’s followers, the pastor, the servant of Christ Jesus, would receive the offering and having given thanks, that is, having blessed the food and money brought, he or the deacons would then distribute to each as he had need.  Everyone would eat. Much like we do with out pot luck suppers. Far from being relics of the ‘50’s, these meals together are holy relics of the days of the apostles.
 
But a portion of the bread and wine brought would be set aside. This sacred – for that is what sacred means, to set aside – this sacred bread and wine would be blessed not simply as food for the belly, but it would be blessed by the word of Christ that it is His very body broken in death for you and raised again for you, and His very blood shed for you and poured out for you and poured over and sprinkled on you. Of this there was nothing left over. All of this consecrated bread and wine was consumed because it was for those who followed the Lord. It was not for outsiders as the other offerings were.
 
From this holy gathering, then, people received not only the word of the Lord, His blessing, and His sacred and holy meal, but they also received their daily bread and even some money from the hand of the Lord. Many went all week waiting and looking forward to this gathering because here they heard from the Master the blessing of His kingdom and His love and compassion for them, and His Father’s love and compassion for them. And here they received from the Lord both food for the stomach and food for eternal life. They were strengthened in body and soul by the Lord.
 
This is the Lord’s gathering. And from His hand you receive that which you need for your body and for your soul. The Lord provides. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. That why you gather the first day of the week to the Lord, to seek Him first. That why you give the first of your income, to seek Him first. And He adds to you all that you need to support this body and life, sustaining you unto life everlasting.
 
Our Lord took bread, and having given thanks, He broke it and He gives to you today the same bread that He broke 2,000 years ago; the bread of heaven, the bread of righteousness, His Body. For you are following Him to eternal life, and unless He gives you something to eat for the journey, you will faint on the way. You are hungry and have no money to buy the righteousness for which you hunger. The Lord provides. He provides the food broken for you on the altar of God, the cross. He provided the Lamb to be slaughtered and served to His people He brought out of the land of slavery. He provides the bread of heaven that is given in this wilderness and desert of sin so you may eat without toil and be satisfied.
 
The Lord sits you down on the green grass of salvation and having heard His word of life and of His Father’s love for you and all creatures, He feeds you His with His Body and Blood. But not just you, but the whole multitude gathered to Him. All the saints in the four corners of the earth are fed this day on the Lord’s day from the hand of the Lord. We are given the bread multiplied over and over throughout the centuries, never running out and always more to come. We eat from the bounty of the Lord and are satisfied.
We are satisfied because to a starving man, a bit of bread and little wine is a feast. Blessed are you who eat bread in the kingdom of heaven.
 
In Nomine Iesu
+ Amen +