Sermons

This Week’s Sermon Transcript

 

The Giver                                           Isaiah 55:1-5,   Matthew 14:13-21                             August 2, 2020   

This week a photographer somewhere near Otter Cliffs in Acadia National Park put up a photograph on Facebook that my daughter saw and sent to me. He is a professional photographer who was out at 11:00 at night taking the Acadia night sky, and as he said, “The milky way was as bold and big as I had ever seen it.” It was quiet and dark, and he was alone feeling a bit overwhelmed by the wonder of what he saw. On the post with the photo “The Heavens and I”, he gives credit and thanks to a lone car passing by on the Park Loop road that helped illuminate Otter Cliffs. That lighting gives a unique and special wonder to what he captured. My first thought was that I probably would just have sat and looked at the lighting coming by and moving on and never been quick enough to take the shot that he did. That is why he is the professional, the photographer catching the wonder. But there were a lot of posts that mentioned the wonder, the beauty of night without other lights around, and a few that spoke of God.  

The prophet Isaiah speaks words of hope and consolation into exile time for the people of Israel. Exile means people cut off from their homes and   caught in political situations that are oppressive. Somehow, the prophet
places the experience of the exiled people into God’s plan and their covenantal relationship with God, which means that God has not abandoned them. 

It also means and calls into today for a deeper reflection on human valuation beyond social class, wealth, and even education. Isaiah’s words are: “Come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.” (vs.3).
It is ongoing- out of the past into what is now and what will come.

It is about human needs for all people, particularly people on the margins, on the edges of society, who have physical needs and spiritual/ emotional/mental needs, too. There is such need for what truly satisfies for each life to come into wholeness. People in covenant with God are in a mutual relationship in which they become witnesses to the power of God signaled ever by generosity and caring, even and especially in the troubled times and circumstances like today. Generosity that knows God makes a way out of what seems like no way. It goes beyond bread and fish into belief and trust in the power of a God who loves and gives what makes for hope. For there is a cost in our loving commitment to God’s covenant, which is the true feast of what satisfies the life into which we are invited ever by God’s mercy and grace.

Scattered and exiled communities abound in our world today. Refugees   have no home, and are now, in this land, where what reigns may well be consumerism, prejudice, and selfishness. A modern Babylon in some ways. And we need ever ask how our energies are spent and lived that reflect our deepening covenantal relationship with God, out of which we have mercy and hope in this time in this country and world.

It means finding new, safe ways that work and care alongside those who suffer. It means being a light with those who survive who then become a light, too. Abundance is found in breaking down the walls that divide a society, keeping it from being a whole and healthy community.  

Isaiah’s prophecy is one of restoration, which sees a return to the land, and a living relationship that helps all life flourish through realistic hopes and that means often finding new possibilities. Mercy is key as there is ever a new way as there is forgiveness and love to try a new way that moves us out of the old unseeing into what brings a glimpse of God’s kingdom in this world. And it is also offering from ourselves what we have found in our faith to others.
 
Key are the words “everyone who thirsts”, which is inclusion for all who have what? A passionate yearning for what comes from God, often found through others’ experience and sharing of a divinely inspired life. It is thirst for the real water and the spiritual water. We share the word through our relationships and our own mercy and caring that follows the compassion of Jesus. It is a lived love out of our covenant with God, which means a living faith shares the word in some way. How does our faith live?
         
Jesus withdraws after learning of the death of John to a place apart for some time alone and closeness to God. That death had an impact on him. But as the many follow him he lets them be, they need not go away. He cures some who are ill, some are anxious, some are hungry. Compassion reigns. And when compassion reigns you give, which speaks to commitment and trusting that whatever you have is enough, if you bring it to me, Jesus says. How we give, care and follow is to trust God will make it enough. We do not as church, as followers, as disciples do it alone.

Jesus directs those there to sit on the grass. It is the shepherd and they are the sheep and he says to feed my sheep. Jesus guides and models ever the way we are to be and follow. It is to lift to God, to bless, and to give what is needed blessing in the giving. Being fed and filled… so many by so little and so few. Miracle! And with leftovers, there is always more than enough with God.   
And Jesus goes up the mountain by himself to be with God in the quiet. The way of being who we are as his, lived out before the disciples, for us to know.  

Maybe “The Heavens and I”(that Acadia night photo) are what we cannot ever explain only listen for, catch a glimpse, and know the wonder and how the human shines into the dark and lights up something that lifts up the beauty and the wonder of it all.

Miracles happen. There is so much beyond us and much with us if we but see it and give credit to it as the wonder lives in our lives in whatever way each shines a bit of light into the world around us. Jesus gave it all, and listened deeply in the alone, the quiet as he teaches us. It is in the words of the prophet: come and listen. It is in his words: come and bring what you have to me. Jesus always pointed beyond himself to God. And when we come, listen, bring ourselves and what we have then something will point beyond us to the wonder and the beauty of God. The word made real in a needed way will bless on earth and in the heavens from which comes the power and the glory forever. Amen.