Summary: A sermon that highlights why compassion is important in the church
In today’s readings from Matthew and Romans we see that compassion for others is a sign of the Christian faith.
Listen again to the dialogue between Jesus and His disciples, reading from Matthew 14:15-16.
14When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food."
16Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."
In some ways the disciples are a lot like people today,
they have a knack on being too narrowly focussed.
Of limiting what can be done.
Of limiting Jesus’ and limiting their responsibility.
On the surface the disciple’s approach appears to be a natural solution
a lot of people followed Jesus to a remote area,
they weren’t forced there,
they have the ability and the option of going to places to buy foo.d
And there is not much to eat and there are no McDonalds close by so why not send them back to the villages to buy food.
However there is one big problem to their solution.
And it is that it is totally their solution.
They attempt to tell Jesus what He should be doing.
Rather than asking Jesus how they can support Him in His ministry.
And this is a trap we can all fall into.
Each one of us is called to be part of Jesus’ ministry team.
The body of Christ.
However often we want to determine what boundaries and restrictions we should put in place.
Sometimes this is even done without spending time in prayer and bible reading,
where we seek His guidance on how we are to be part of His ministry here in Burnie/Devonport/Launceston.
It is true boundaries are necessary for everyone.
However when we set boundaries we need to have Jesus’ perspective on what the boundaries should look like.
This involves looking for ways we can help people remain close to him.
This involves tackling difficult situations so that rather than saying we can’t do something, we investigate and be creative in looking at ways to provide ministry.
And this involves not asking whether someone deserves ministry but rather, how can we be generous in ministering to all those who come in contact with us, especially those who are not part of our community.
Consider the story of Oswald Golter.
After ten years service as a missionary in China Oswald Golter, was on His way home.
His ship stopped in India, and while waiting for the connecting boat home he found a group of refugees living in a warehouse on the pier.
They were unwanted, so they were stranded.
Golter went to visit them.
As it was Christmas time he wished them a merry Christmas and asked them what they would like for Christmas.
"We’re not Christians," they said. "We don’t believe in Christmas."
"I know," said the missionary, "but what do you want for Christmas?"
They described some German pastries they were particularly fond of
So Oswald Golter cashed in his ticket home, used the money to buy baskets and baskets of the pastries, took them to the refugees, and wished them a merry Christmas.