Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Daily Mass Sermonette

Here's what I just preached at Grace Cathedral's daily mass. 1 John 4.7-12 and Mark 6.30-44 were the texts.

I had a professor in seminary who didn’t really do much preaching at daily masses. The deacon or assisting priest would read the gospel, and Fr. Koenig would stand behind the altar, say “Let us meditate on the words of scripture, which cannot be improved upon,” and then sit down for two to three minutes.

There are only a few passages of scripture that come to mind that I’d think about doing this: John 1, “In the beginning was the Word,” and so on; the real, short ending of Mark 16 — the resurrection where the women run away from the empty tomb scared out of their minds because they just encountered an angel. It stops right there. And then there’s this passage from 1 John. “Beloved let us love one another. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”

I’m not much of a “plain reading” of scripture kind of guy. I grew up with that. I learned a lot in seminary about the Bible and how to read it and share it. But this passage from 1 John, “Beloved, let us love one another” is a time that I’m really, really, tempted to say, “What more is there to be said?”

But with passages like that, if I sit with them long enough — or not even too long, really — I ask myself, “So what?” Maybe they’re pretty or just make a lot of sense, but so what to living the Christian life? Beloved, love one another is pretty enough — and good, solid direction — but it’s easy to say that and let it not mean anything at all.

That’s where our gospel passage and our gathering today comes in to play. When the disciples wanted to send the following crowds away for food Jesus said, “you give them something to eat.” In this version of the story we don’t know where the loaves and fishes come from, but we know that someone gave what they had.

Whether the miracle of this story is a miraculous multiplication of five loaves and two fish to get twelve baskets of leftovers or that everyone together shared all that they had to make sure no one was hungry, this story tells us how to love one another by giving what we have and caring for those who don’t have.

The givers brought what they had, and there was enough for everyone to be fed. In this eucharist we bring our gifts of bread and wine and money and there’s enough for everyone to be fed. We’re not just the crowds following Jesus, hungry for his teaching and grace, though. We’re the disciples, too. When we want to send people away because they don’t have something or are different from us, Jesus, probably with some sass since this story is 2,000 years old, looks at us and says “You feed them.”

Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it, shared it, and there was more than enough. In a few minutes we’ll take bread, bless it, break it, share it, and there will be more than enough bread and grace — for us and for all the world.

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