Sermon: Welcome to The Family

We are simultaneously part of many different families. Some of them endure for generations, others exist only for a particular moment in time. At their best, they give our lives shape, meaning and purpose; at their worst, they drag us down into a pit of despair.

JudeanDesert
The Judean Desert near the Dead Sea

My Grandpa loved life, loved his family, and loved making others laugh. I remember sitting with him in the kitchen: he’d smile a big broad smile, and then let his upper denture drop – “Clunk.” We kids would respond with peals of delighted laughter. Grandma, sitting across the table, would inevitably say: “O, Earl!” – Which only provoked more laughter. They were both lovely people, and were both quite strong and wonderful characters.

We all have such “characters” in our families: some eccentric, some difficult, some amusing or endearing, sometimes a combination of all three! They are people who don’t mind living life a bit off from the norm. In fact, at least in my own experience, these same relatives are often seen as embodying a set of qualities – or oddities – that “run in the family” – traits that are usually good (I hope), but sometimes not. They might include patterns of behavior; health issues; physical traits and gifts; ties to a particular place, time or nationality, or a particular legacy, among other things. But, they identify us as “us”: they help us see how and why our family came to be what it is, what it stands for, and why we are who we are.

We are simultaneously part of many different families: our family of origin, the family we marry into, the family we create with our spouse, our church family, our work and school families. Some of these families endure for generations, others exist only for a particular moment in time. But, they all provide us with an identity, and a reason for being who and what we are. At their best, they give our lives shape, meaning and purpose; at their worst, they drag us down into a pit of despair.

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Fish in the Wilderness

We are those who followed Jesus and the Disciples out into that Wilderness: a wilderness in a country of Gentiles, a place where people have not yet heard or embraced the Gospel; and, a place where we will experience that renewal and that deepening of relationship with God we all need to fulfill the call upon our lives. So, why feed us bread and fish?

"The Miracle of the Bread and Fish" by Giovanni Lanfranco, 1620-23
“The Miracle of the Bread and Fish” by Giovanni Lanfranco, 1620-23

Sermon: “Fish in the Wilderness”
Delivered at ARK Community Church, Dalton MA
7th Sunday after Pentecost: August 3, 2014.

Scripture readings:
Isaiah 55:1-5 (from “The Message”)
Matthew 14:13-23 (from “The Message”)

Podcast: 

The “Feeding of the Five Thousand” is the only miraculous sign found in all four Gospels. What’s more, Mark and Matthew each have two variations, for a total of 6 versions in the Four Gospels.

Clearly, the early church saw this story as central to their faith, and therefore it is central to ours. Many ask “How did this Miracle come about?” And there are a number of explanations as to the “How” of this story. Some claim it is a true miracle, others say it isn’t, many say it doesn’t really matter whether it was a miracle or not.

But for me, the central question is not how (or if) this miracle happened, but “Why is it important?”

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