Summary: A sermon about trusting in God.
“What are the odds?”
On August 31, 2005, the FEMA Regional Director emailed the Director regarding the situation in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
“Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical.
Here are some things you might not know.
Hotels are kicking people out, thousands are gathering in the streets with no food or water.
Hundreds are still being rescued from homes.
There are dying patients at the Disaster Medical Assistance Team Tent.
Estimates are that many will die within hours.
Evacuation is in process.
Plans are developing for dome evacuation, but the hotel situation is adding to the problem.
We are out of food and running out of water at the dome, plans are in the works to address the critical need.
Staff is working in deplorable conditions.
Phone connectivity is impossible.”
The director responded, “Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?”
It’s as if the director wasn’t even listening.
There can be no doubt that most of us have different levels of awareness as to the enormity of need in this world.
In their book Justice In The Burbs Will and Lisa Sampson write, “The suburbs seem particularly designed to avoid facing the bigger issues of life.
It almost feels as if these communities were designed to avoid interruption by anything unpleasant or uncomfortable.
Planned developments have ways of controlling who comes near.
And electronic garage door openers seal the deal…
…the burbs are safe, but they are safe at the price of keeping out questions of need, questions of poverty, questions of insufficiency.
In fact they are designed to maintain an illusion of a particular life, the American dream, where no one is needy, where there is a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage…
…Let’s face it,” they write, “we don’t want to be bothered by those in need.
It would be too disruptive.”
The feeding of the 5,000 in the Gospel of John speaks to our temptation to shrug our shoulders in the face of human need.
And let’s face it, there is so much human need that it can seem like a paralyzing situation!!!
In our Scripture passage for this morning we are told that “Jesus looked up and saw the large crowd coming toward him.
He asked Philip, ‘Where will we buy food to feed these people?’”
And Philip must have thought Jesus was out of His mind!!!
“More than a half year’s salary worth of food wouldn’t be enough for each person to have even a little bit,” he told Jesus.
Talk about overwhelming need, and very scarce resources to deal with it.
Andrew comes up and says, “A youth here has five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that for a crowd like this?”
And as we look out at the great need in our community and in our world, we may very well say something similar to what Andrew has to say, “Our resources are so scarce, the need is so great; what good is what we have for a crowd like this?”
It’s so easy to come to a place of despair where we just shrug our shoulders and do nothing.
Our church gets phone calls every day, probably half a dozen a day from people asking for help to pay their light bills, their rent, to pay for hotel bills, gasoline for their cars.
There is so much need.
Thankfully, we have a food pantry.
And you know, that food pantry is used all week long.
There isn’t a whole lot of selection in there…
…just some canned goods and peanut butter, but folks are desperate enough to come and get what they can.
Jesus asked, “Where will we buy food to feed these people?”
Jesus didn’t ask, “Where will we find the money to buy food to feed these people?”
That was Philip’s reply.
And Andrew’s reply was that “we don’t have enough.”
Yet, as Jesus points out, “not enough” is not the final answer.
Because, when placed in the hands of Jesus, human weakness and finitude become more than enough!!!
Do we believe this?
An African proverb says, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night in a closed room with a mosquito.”
In 1946, when Mother Teresa came face to face with the masses of suffering and dying people in Calcutta, she didn’t shrug her shoulders and turn the other way.
Instead, she experienced what she called the “call within the call,” which she described as a call from God to serve those suffering the most.
And she answered that call.
Certainly her knowledge, her wealth nor her wisdom was going to be enough to fulfill God’s calling on her life to serve the poorest people on the earth.