A, Proper 13 A Boy’s Gift
Matthew 14:13-21 The Rev. Blake Hutson
Prayer: Lord to see you is the end and the beginning. You carry us and you go before us. You are the journey and the journeys end. Amen.
Sometimes children give the most interesting gifts.
Once it was the end of the school year and a kindergarten teacher was receiving gifts from her class. A boy went first and handed her his gift. The boy’s parents owned a floral shop in town. The teacher shook the box and held it over her head, and said, "I bet I know what this is....some flowers." "That's right!" said the boy. "But how did you know?" She smiled and said, "Oh, just a wild guess.” Next a girl came forward and her family owned a candy store. The teacher held her gift overhead, shook it, and said, "I bet I can guess what this is...a box of candy." "That's right! But how did you know?" asked the girl. "Just a lucky guess," said the teacher. Finally a boy came forward whose parents owned a liquor store. The teacher held his gift over her head but it was leaking. She touched a drop of the liquid with her finger and asked, "Is it wine?" "No," the boy replied. The teacher repeated the process, touching another drop of the liquid. "Is it champagne?" she asked as she noticed the liquid between her fingers. "No," the boy replied. “It’s not a bottle of champagne.” “Well, I give up, what it is?" she asked. The boy replied, "It’s…a puppy!"
This morning’s miracle appears in all four Gospels. John’s Gospel tells us there is a young boy and he has a gift to give (John 6:9). His gift was five loaves and two fish. The boy’s gift is commemorated in two places in our sanctuary. During the sermon this morning, I invite you to look at the five loaves and two fish on our altar frontal and on the stained glass window to my left.
With his parents, the boy is part of a large crowd people. In a way, we’re like the crowd that gathered in this morning’s story. The individuals in that large crowd, including the boy and his parents, could have been anywhere else that day, but they chose to follow Jesus to that remote place. In a similar way, we could be a number of other places on this Sunday morning, but we follow Jesus, and we’ve followed him here to this place this morning.
That day the crowd was way out in the countryside, nowhere close to civilization. You might say they were out in what these Catalina Foothills used to be seventy five years ago when this church was founded. We get the idea that being in a remote place didn’t matter to the crowd. They wanted to hear Jesus’ wisdom and hear him teach, to be loved by him, and who knew? Maybe they would see a miracle or two.
If the story were written today, we would say that they were a long way from a fast food restaurant or a grocery store. A problem because, you see, it started to get late in the day and the boy and his family, and the other people in the crowd started to get hungry. As we know, part of the human condition is that when we get hungry, we get grumpy. At the very least, when hungry we squabble and fuss. As for the disciples, they didn’t want an unhappy, hungry, crowd on their hands.
The disciples suggested that Jesus send the crowd away so that they could get something to eat (Mt. ). You might say they wanted Jesus to wind things up and for their day to be over. I’ve always thought that the disciples’ suggestion was a bit curious. They want to dismiss the crowd and send the people on their way to fend for themselves. This is curious because maybe they had forgotten a few of Jesus’ recent teaching moments. Jesus had given them the parable of the Lost Sheep, the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. Sending an individual off to fend for herself wasn’t Jesus’ way, much less sending a crowd of several thousand.
Rather than sending them away hungry and empty handed, Jesus tells the disciples, ‘No, it’s time for you guys to step up. I’ve been doing all the work the last few months; you give them something to eat.’ Maybe Jesus was encouraging them to take responsibility for their own ministry; trying to nudge them into action, to see what gifts they might offer to meet the need. Maybe Jesus was putting them to the test.
Instead of one of one of the twelve Apostles, a boy stepped forward. We don’t know much about him--who he was, who his parents were, what they did for a living or where he came from. The boy offered to Jesus what he had--his loaves of bread and a few dried fish.
Notice what Jesus did and this is one of the crucial parts of the story. Receiving the boy’s gift, Jesus blessed it, broke it and gave it to the people. Blessing, breaking and giving: that’s what Jesus did with the boy’s gift. God’s power was put to work, the loaves and fish multiplied.
Not only did God's power produce enough food to feed five thousand people -- not counting the women and children () -- but there were twelve baskets of leftovers. One commentator said, ‘Twelve baskets, like twelve tribes of Israel -- in effect, this story tells us that there was such plenty represented in this feast that, there were enough leftovers to fill doggie bags for all of God's people (S. Breuer).
This morning, we have gathered to worship in this place and we are surrounded by our Christian family. Like the boy in the story, we come this morning having something to offer.
Like the boy in the story, we never know when we might be called upon; we never know when our gifts might be needed. Like the boy, it’s wise for us to be ready because every now and then, Jesus looks at his disciples and says, ‘I’ve been doing a lot of the work lately, why don’t you figure this one out.’
Blessing, breaking and giving describes Jesus’ actions in this story and also how God works anytime we offer a gift in response to a need. Whenever any of us step forward in ministry, God takes what we give, blesses it and uses the gift to bless others. Blessing, breaking and giving, describes one of the ways God’s grace unfolds in our midst.
We see this at Church every time put a gift in the offering plate. The ushers go from pew to pew; as we pass the plates from person to person. The gifts are brought forward up the center aisle and blessed at the altar. God takes our financial gift, whatever it may be, God blesses it. It is divided different ways, and used to change lives and support ministry done in this place.
Last month, I went with 10 of
our young people and several chaperones on our SPY
This morning Migrant packs are being assembled in the East Gallery. We offer those packs to God, we pray that our efforts will be blessed, they will be divided and distributed and our prayer is that lives will be saved in the harsh desert. Of course we have many ministries here at St. Philip’s. Whatever ministry you’re involved in—you give your gifts of time and talent ask we ask God to bless what you offer, to bless other people, and bless you through the ministry.
Finally, we see God’s grace unfold in our lives every Sunday at the Eucharist. The gifts of bread and wine come up the center aisle-symbolically coming from the community. On behalf of Christ, the Celebrant stands at the Altar. Bread and wine are blessed, broken and distributed to all. We experience Christ’s presence in the sacrament and we are blessed as we commune with one another and our Lord.
From time to time when you’re in this sanctuary, I invite you to look at the altar frontal and the stained glass window depicting the five loaves and two fish. Remember: It all started with one boy offering what he had to give. The miracle started with his gift.
Blessing, breaking and giving—are what God does anytime we offer a gift to God.
So, what do you have to offer? What needs do you see around you and how could you respond? May God give us generous hearts to share what we have; and may God give us the overwhelming joy of seeing our gift blessed, divided and used to bless others.