The “Blessing Track” comes all the way from West Point… Not ours, but New York’s! Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon, Princesses Jasmine and Mulan) sings “Via Dolorosa” with the Cadet Choir of the Military Academy. Enjoy! https://youtu.be/67XrqXXTceM
Today the Sermon is, appropriately addressed to our youth…
The Fish and Loaves: The Gospel of an Unsung Hero
Today, I would like to talk about the unsung hero of the story about the fish and loaves.
Human story as well as the pages of the Bible tell the tragic reality that through all generations and in all cultures, children have been considered “dispensable.”
Although loved by the mothers and fathers, children often have to carry the burden of working from sunrise to sunset to help their families in scrapping a living. Even the “enlightened” industrial revolution was made possible on the back-breaking work of children. And, what to say about the horrible and sad stories of the abuse suffered by children – even, sadly to this day.
In our Lord’s time it was not different. When it was expedient to fit his own political goals, King Herod ordered the killing of hundreds, perhaps thousand of children. When children tried to squeeze in to have a closer look to Jesus and what He was all about, his disciples tried to shoo them away.
In our gospel story – which is one of the few that appear in all the four gospels – we learn that somehow the disciples produced a basket of fish and loaves. How the got some the basket, we do not know, yet the disciples used that meager lunch to deride the idea of feeding the multitudes.
It is only in the gospel of John that we find that it was a child with his offering what made the day. I wonder why either Mark, Matthew or even Luke did not consider the child’s offering wordy of mentioning. Well, it was just a child, after all!
I can imagine this little boy of girl, hanging around Jesus and his “senior staff” speculating about the feeding of the multitudes. And perhaps, out of his or her innocence, a basket with some fish and loaves was offered. And I can imagine the disciples dismissing the offer, – “What’s the use of your small lunch? Go away! This is a matter for grown-ups.”
But Jesus received the offering of the child not considering its tininess but appreciating the magnitude of his faith. I can imagine Jesus looking at the child’s with eyes full of love and with a melting heart took up the offering. Perhaps recalling this incident, Jesus would teach later that not even the offering of a glass of water would remain unnoticed and unappreciated by God.
There is no question that as adults our challenge is to learn to live with the unencumbered and liberating faith of a child.
But today is Youth Sunday. For many years, here at St David’s the first Sunday of the month has been dedicated to our youth. So today, this message is primarily addressed to them.
Hundreds and hundreds of years before the events near the Sea of Galilee, a teenager had big dreams. He dreamed that one day he would lead a great nation, and many would come to respect him as a wise leader. For having such big dreams, his siblings took offence and sold him into slavery. Despite betrayals, he continued to have faith in what God had implanted in his heart. He refused to compromise and continued doing what was right. Eventually, his dream came true, becoming the overlord of the greatest empire of his time. The name of the young dreamer was Joseph.
Hundreds of years after, another young man was side-tracked and belittled by his siblings. Even his father had reservations about his future. His elder brothers dismissed him just as a simple go-getter. But one day, when the nation was a great risk, he offered all the he had – a slingshot and some river rocks. With a well-aimed rock – a skill learned in keeping the wolves away from his flock – he defeated Goliath and saved the hour. The little “go-getter” turned up to be King David.
Like many other girls of her time, a young teenager was looking forward to her big wedding day – food, preps for guests, perhaps a new dress. One evening like no others all her plans fell apart. Before her big day, she would bear a child. Afraid and doubtful, she could have refused or opted even for death before dishonoring her fiancée. Yes, trusting in God her Savior, she offered all that she had – Mary’s body was the first home for Jesus.
Joseph and Mary offered their own lives to pursue God’s call. David and the boy or girl in our gospel story offered all that they had, a river stone or a basket with snacks. They all were dismissed as dreamers, inept, failures or irrelevant. But because they persisted in their dreams and convictions, they went on to transform the world.
Our younger generation is facing challenges not of their own making. Both the handling of Covid-19 and the social upheaval we are facing is – let’s reckon – ours and our past generations “gift” to them. Cancelled proms and graduations; dreams of college placed on hold; summer and long-term job prospects limited, and the burden of the economy is all on the shoulders of our cockiness, “our” dreams and fears, and our “we know better” attitude.
But here is the good news for our youth – Yes! You guys! Offer to God all your dreams, your life, your “slingshot on your pocket” or your “basket with snacks.” I know that if you do that, God will use it to transform the world around you, and make you grow into all that He has destined you to be.
Don’t let naysayers – or the present circumstances – turn you away from all the good that it is in you and God has in store for you. Be faithful. Be brave. Don’t compromise. And the grace, the power, and the joy that it is in Jesus will be with you now and evermore. Amen.