Homily – Ninth Sunday after Pentecost 8.2.20
Posted on August 5, 2020
We have to talk about the food we are eating. No, I’m not about to admonish you for the quarantine diet – or lack thereof – that you have been observing. In fact, I’ll confess, there’s been far more ice cream in my house as of late, but I’m using pregnancy as an excuse. No, when I say that we have to talk about the food we are eating, I’m speaking more about what we are *consuming.* The things that we are taking in and using to fuel our minds and souls.
There is a lot of unsatisfying soul food out there in the world right now. We have social media and a 24-hour news cycle to give us a fix whenever we want it. More readily accessed than even the ice cream in my freezer. But really, social media and the news might just be the cherries on top of unhealthy relationships, a lack of self-care or mental health care, or a myriad of unhealthy coping mechanisms that we’ve found during an impossibly anxious time. All of these things “fill us up.” But they fail to nourish us. They fail to give us the peace we crave. And in fact, most of the time it does the opposite. It makes us angry. Resentful. Anxious. Exhausted. Empty. How on earth could we feel empty when we put all of our energy into consuming?
Two pieces of scripture today give us that answer. The first comes from the profit Isaiah. Thus says the Lord… “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” God offers us a drink that actually satisfies our thirst, a food that is good to eat. That which can actually fill us can only be found in God’s promise. If we were to read on Isaiah, we’d learn more about that delicious promise. We’d hear that God’s promise that pardon is closer than we think. God’s promise that justice is closer than we think. God’s promise that healing is closer than we think. God’s promise that joy, yes even joy, is closer than we think. It’s the promise that God made to a people in exile and it fed them better than bread or wine. It’s the promise that God makes to us today. God makes a promise in Isaiah to fill us up with good things, if we only let him.
God makes us another promise this morning. Again, it’s about the food we are eating. We turn to the Gospel of Matthew’s account of the feeding of the 5000, plus women and children. It’s a familiar story to us all. Jesus realized that the crowds listening to him teach and preach would be getting hungry, so he told his disciples to feed them. They told him, we’ve only got a little food here and Jesus looks at it and says, “Yep, that’s enough.” And it was. All ate and were filled. And their were leftovers! twelve baskets of broken pieces. The promise here is that God’s food isn’t simply filling, it doesn’t merely satisfy us. It is abundant. It is overflowing. There is enough for me and enough or you and enough for those that need it. There’s enough for those that don’t need it. There’s enough of God’s real nourishment to be given to those that don’t deserve it. There’s enough for those that will turn their back on it. There’s enough for those that don’t believe it. God’s promise to nourish us with pardon and justice and healing and joy is even there for those we consider to be our enemies. Because if anyone needs to start consuming some healthier “food”, it is those that hate us.
God’s food is filling and abundant. But perhaps most importantly, it is what God wants for us. When Jesus saw the crowd in Matthew, he was moved to compassion. Jesus wasn’t simply a logistical genius. He had an emotional connection with his people. It is the connection that God has with all of creation. God wants to give us good and healthy things. Not just to watch us thrive, but because God loves us that much. Because when God gazes upon a starving body, that love creates food. Creates a promise that goes beyond what the world can give us.
If you find yourselves starving, having only consumed the garbage food the world has given you to eat, you have a chance to start a new diet. One that still includes ice cream, but does cut back on social media or unhealthy coping mechanisms. This morning, God is offering you a new buffet of promise. The things that will truly nourish you are right around the corner and they are plenty. You can have them if you seek them. You can have pardon, you can have justice, you can have joy. They are yours.
And for those of you that have been on this diet already, if you’ve been experiencing God’s promise even in exile, even in uncertain times… Now is the time to share that food. Share that story. Let a starving person know that there is something truly filling to be found, but that it won’t come from the world. There is no shortage of hungry people. There is no shortage of hungry people IN THIS CHURCH. Give others a taste of God’s promise. There is more than enough for all of us.