This was the homily from this week’s worship service, delivered by Hugh Hollowell. The text was from Matthew 14:13-21.
If you grew up in church, you probably know this story really well. And honestly, that’s a problem.
Because with stories we know really well – like this one – we edit the stories in our head. We have heard them told so many times, and every time it is told, it comes with a preacher or a Sunday School teacher who tells you, “The important part is X”. So when we remember the story, we focus on X, and edit out the other parts.
Like in this story – we remember there wasn’t enough food. We remember that there was bread and fish. We remember that there was a miracle, and everyone was fed.
And because we remember the story that way, the next time we encounter there not being enough food, we think, “Oh, I know this story. What we need is a miracle!”
But that isn’t what the story says. It says that when the disciples told Jesus there were people who were hungry, Jesus said, “Give them something to eat.”
That was Jesus’ plan – share your food. If the people are hungry, feed them.
It was only when what the disciples had to offer wasn’t enough that a miracle was needed.
But that really isn’t where we are today. Today, we say to Jesus, “They are hungry.” And Jesus still tells us, “Give them something to eat.”
But now, instead of only having fish and bread, we live in a country where we throw away 40% of all our food. Where, on the remaining 60% of the food, more than one in three of us are obese. We live in a country where people are routinely dying of over-nutrition, while others starve.
The problem with serving a God who performs miracles is that we expect them, and we respond to the pain of the world by waiting on a miracle.
People are hungry, and Jesus tells us to feed them. And this time, we have the food – we just need to do the self-criticism and hard work necessary to do it.
God sees the pain of the world
just like we do.
God hears the prayers of the brokenhearted
and the cries of the oppressed.
God is paying attention
and God is faithful.
God has a plan.
God has a plan to solve hunger
to fill the bellies of dying children
to right the wrongs that have been perpetrated
to recognize those who have been neglected.
God has a plan. God’s plan is us.
See, it is not we who wait on God to act, but God who waits on us.