Loving on people with food

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9th Sunday after Pentecost

July 29, 2012

John 6:1-21

Shera Nesheim, DM


Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


It must be a Garrison thing. Or maybe it’s just a North Dakotan thing. But the women I know from Garrison, ND – my mom, my grandmothers, Pastor Renee…. ALL of these women show their love for others in the language of : FOOD. Yes, you heard me. They love on people by feeding them. Holidays with my family, include an abundance of salads, hotdishes, cookies, pies, you name it – there is always more food than people. Each time Pastor Renee has a meeting, you can bet that you will leave well fed, even if you ate before you came! And if I know this church, I know that the quarterly meeting potluck today, will feed many people and we’ll have plenty to share. Also, I think you students can attest to the fact that Easter Breakfast here is pretty much amazing!


When you go to Grandma’s and she’s got warm cookies fresh from the oven waiting for you, when you move into the neighborhood and the family across the street brings you a loaf of fresh bread, or when friends gather for a BBQ and share their best recipes. Sharing food is a way we show our hospitality. 


There’s the small but healthy garden here at YCC that produces around 1500 pounds of potatoes, sweet peas, green beans, corn, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes and other amazing fresh produce that YOU grow and YOU cook to eat together as a community! You share the work of weeding and harvesting, and you share the bountiful healthy meals at the cafeteria with Ms. Monica! Enjoying a meal with one another is a way that we share the harvest of our gardens, it is a way that we share 50 year old recipes that have been traditions in the family, it is a way that we savor the goodness of life – the blessing that things taste beautiful.


Have you noticed, though, when you leave the table, your tummy isn’t the only thing that’s full? But your heart feels full too? Often times it is around the table we find fellowship and friendship. When I was growing up, it was a priority for my mom, my dad and 2 sisters and myself to have supper together as often as we could. We would share stories from our day – adventures we had, highs and lows. We would share in laughter, and talk about tough issues. Our relationships with one another strengthened and grew by passing the bread and green beans. 


That’s why, when I worked at camp as a counselor, one of our requirements each night during the evening meal as a cabin was that we sat for 45 minutes to eat together, talk with one another and have some quality time together. It is important for all people, at some point in their lives but especially as children, to gather around a table with people who they care about and have some great food and great conversations. It could happen around a cafeteria table, your family table, or at a restaurant. It could even happen on a grassy hill, like in our Scripture, today.


He wasn’t from Garrison, or from North Dakota, but maybe Jesus shows his love for us, and for these people, by feeding them. Jesus was like the head chef who took a measly 5 loaves and 2 fish, and managed to feed thousands with it. I wonder what it would have been like to be on that grassy hillside, sharing a meal with thousands of others. These were people who didn’t pack a lunch, they just left their homes and followed a man said to bringing healing and hope. Strangers, came together and sat with one another as they listened to Jesus give thanks before the meal. Each of them, guests at Jesus’ table, were served a taste of grace that could be savored in the saltiness of bread and flakiness of fish. They were forced to slow down, enjoy the sunshine and their company and eat food with one another. They had the opportunity to learn about each other, develop relationships, talk about this man named Jesus they were following as they passed their food around.


For generations, God has had a history of feeding God’s people. Hungry Israelites in the dessert awake to find fine flaky manna, bread from the Lord on the ground. It’s definitely not caramel rolls, but hey, it’s breakfast….and lunch….and dinner. (Exodus 16:13-18). These one hundred we hear about in 2nd Kings are all fed, and even have left-overs. The Psalmist testifies, “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:15-16).


Here today, We sit, gathered together at the feet of Jesus to share in the Lord’s Supper together. We come, to be nourished by bread, and more importantly by the life giving power of our resurrected Lord and Savior. We are hungry for more than bread. We are hungry for healing. Jesus who is the one who heals us. We are hungry for feeling whole again. Jesus makes us whole. We are hungry for a second chance, Jesus gives us new life. 


But often times we find that we are hungry for distractions. We are hungry for nicer clothes, a newer car, a bigger house, for status, reputations, power or money. But these things just feed us with jealousy, hate, a false sense of security and anger. They leave us empty. They do not give us life or make us whole again. They do not satisfy the real hunger in our lives. Much like eating greasy fast food hamburgers, your hunger is satisfied right away – it tastes good to begin with, but later, when your stomach turns sour and you’re left feeling hungry within a couple of hours, that’s when you realize that you filled yourself with empty calories. Jesus is the only bread of life that is just that – life. Jesus, Son of God, gives grace that abundantly fills us with forgiveness and mercy. We need to fill up on more Jesus, and less junk. 


I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the summer Olympics have started. Olympians train their bodies for peak performance, and to do so, they eat right. The put food into their bodies so that they can be as healthy as possible.  What if we were on God’s team in the Olympics? What would we hunger for and fill ourselves with? Grace and forgiveness? We would surely need to fill ourselves with things that give us energy, sustenance and life. Surely we’d need the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ to satisfy us. For whoever comes to him will never hunger, and never thirst. And so thanks be to God – let the Olympian training begin!  Amen.