Experiencing Sunday.

Homily 272 – 8th Sunday after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
July 30, 2017

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

We hear about the feeding of the 5,000 this morning. I have heard this story so many times, I confess that I may be a bit numb to it.

What can I possibly say that hasn’t been said before?

The answer is nothing. Everything has been said. And, for the record, it isn’t necessary to say something new and novel every time.

The message of the Gospel has never changed. The message of the Forerunner, and of Christ has not changed. Repent, for the kingdom of God is here.

That is the message underlying every single sermon and service we have.

But, on occasion, we can find that the meaning of particular passages change over time. The passages don’t change – but we do.

So that requires us to be present – to hear the Gospel, and not just listen to it.

The service books say “Listen” to the holy Gospel. But I say “Hear” the holy Gospel. Those that have ears to listen should hear.

And so that is why this service is more than a weekly performance of an act that only changes slightly. That is why this is called “leitourgia”, the work of the people.

We are asked to listen – and not just listen, but to hear.

It is part – not all – but part of our participation.

To walk away from our gathering with a bit of contemplation. What is the message to me, today? What is the message to us as a community?

What change do we need to make, individually and collectively? For that is the meaning of repent – to change.

So what do we think about the Gospel this morning? What might we hear, as we listen?

As I look at the passage, the first reaction I have is one of hope. That I, as a follower of Christ, need only worry about following Him, and not about the necessities of life.

The crowds surrounding our Lord seemed unconcerned about the acquisition of food, of clothing, and of shelter.

It would seem the only thing they were hungry for was the words of our Savior. And He gave them the words of life – and the manna to eat.

How many of us live such a life? Devoted to our Lord, unconcerned about our own wants and needs?

Certainly not me. But I have met a few people. And you have, too. We do well to emulate them.

The second reaction is a bit of warning – as I see myself in the Apostles and Disciples advising Jesus to send the crowd away, to find food.

Because, you know, “I care for them, Jesus. I don’t wish for them to be hungry.”

Then, Christ confronts me with my obligation – you feed them. Yes, you.

It is a bit of an interesting depiction of how we cooperate with God in all things – God supplies the material, we supply some small portion of the effort.

Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes – and the Apostles and Disciples distributed them.

In a similar way, God provides everything to reconcile us to Him, and save us. But we have to accept it. Kind of like God giving us a suit of clothes, and we have to actually put it on.

And then, the tricky part, we should be thankful. We should think about where we were – hungry for salvation, hungry for every word of Christ.

And thankful that he has satisfied that hunger.

We used to be separated from God – cut off, alone. Searching for true joy – searching for Truth. We were lost, wandering, trying things. And nothing worked.

Some things worked momentarily – but nothing worked to fix the problem.

And now, it does. It works. I’m not hungry, I’m not wandering, I have a purpose – and a home, and Love.

Love of family, love of friends, and although I am not worthy of it, the Love which is from my Creator – God.

Everything I do – everything I say – everything I think.

Is in response to that Love.

Everything I am is in response to that Love.

This day, this moment, Jesus stands before us, seeing our hunger. What do we have to offer? Can we – will we – offer it?

For if we do, our hunger – and the hunger of all those around us – will be satisfied.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.