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Stewardship Sunday

Pentecost 23, Common Lectionary Year C

Luke 9:12-17; Malachi 3:10-12, Isaiah 55:1-3

©Rev Elisabeth R. Jones

Ridiculous, Scripture, isn’t it? Preposterous. Outrageous. Incredible?

A Dream of God where the thirsty, hungry, work-worn slaves in Babylonian captivity can drink cool water, where the penniless can buy a meal that will fill their bellies for days….. where tens of thousands of displaced refugees get to go home, and live on a land miraculously free of locusts and crop failure, filling the temple storehouses with a bumper harvest Monsanto can only lust after…. And where there’s so much left over, there’ll be enough to feed the nations! That’s some Dream, God!

This is the Dream, the son of Mary grew up hearing, only he didn’t think it was ridiculous, or preposterous, or outrageous, or incredible.

He believed it.

Despite the fact he lived under the boot of the new empire of Rome, and even though he knew that most of the food produced in the Galilee was carted off to feed Rome’s armies, he believed God’s preposterous, incredible Dream to be true.   He left home, livelihood, family, to live that Dream, to put his own flesh and bones into making this it real for himself, and for those who would join him.   “Do you not see, the kingdom of God this Dream of God is already here?!” he would say, day in, day out. He spun his own tales of the Dream of God made real in widow’s coins, and mustard seeds, and lost children coming home to a banquet. He made the Dream of God real in a healing ministry where the blind get to see, the untouchable one is hugged whole, the silenced are given speech, and the hobbled get to dance.

And he made the Dream of God real the day he fed the hungry. Those hungry ones, temporarily displaced in the wilderness outside the towns of Galilee, fed, enough to fill their bellies. And, yes, Gospel says, there was enough left over to fill 12 baskets! 12, the number of the tribes of Israel, of the disciples of Jesus, 12 is Bible or Godspeak for “everyone”, “all the nations,” “the world.” God’s Dream. Isaiah’s Dream, Malachi’s dream made real in  five loaves and two fishes.

But did you notice how Jesus did it?

12 disciples, the closest ones, the dedicated Church Board, the faithful congregation, the followers of Jesus….. They looked out over a hungry hoard, fathers, and mothers, and children and aged ones, sick ones, and hard -working ones, and sloughers, and beggars, everybody, each with a craving for hope, a longing for a glimmer of dignity, hungering for an ounce of justice, a handful of mercy….

A multitude of need, longing and unfulfilled possibility….. desperate for the Dream of God to take on flesh and bones.

And they said “What can we 12 do? How are we going to help them all? We can’t possibly respond to their needs, they are too great for us! And we can’t afford to buy them food to feed them?! Send them away, Jesus!” To which Jesus, the Dreamer of God said, says. “You feed them.”

“Sit them down, get them ready to eat. We’ll raise what little we have in thanks and blessing to God our Creator, and we’ll feed them.”

You see that’s the most crazy, preposterous, incredible thing about this Dream of God. God ‘s 17 billion year old, incomprehensibly expansive creation is God’s universal love-gift for sharing! Sharing the making of it, and the tending of it, and the mending of it. Creation by God involves, at its most intrinsic level, partners. God doesn’t do this Dream alone. Never has, and never will.

So, preposterous though it was, of course Jesus said to his followers, “You feed them.”

God has made enough, more than enough loaves and fishes for all. We know this. We know the world is capable of producing enough food for all who inhabit it. We know there is enough room on the planet for a sustainable community of species, We know that we could harness renewable energy resources in sustainable ways if we could just wean ourselves off our addiction to fossil fuels….. God is right, there is enough  – more than enough to go round. But it is us who must learn to share it, care for it, tend it, mend it, replenish it, It is our flesh and bones with which God will feed the multitude.

Which is why we are here. Cedar Park United is a place where this crazy Dream has taken hold of our lives. It’s a place where we’ve  said yes to God’s invitation to be stewards, partners with God in creation! It’s a place where we’ve decided to follow Jesus, and to make his preposterous message of abundant life for all real. It’s a place where we’ve chosen to gather in worship to experience God the Dreamer in our lives. It’s a place where we’ve decided to live the Dream of God by welcoming people,  be they gay, straight, wheelchair users or able-bodied, young, old or in between, of all nations, languages, into the fellowship and company of God because that’s what God in Christ would do! It’s a place where we’ve  chosen to partner with the healing ministry of God through our pastoral care and healing pathway ministries. It’s a community where we choose be fuelled and fed to live the Dream of God in our daily lives,  at work and school and home, through programmes of  discipleship teaching and learning for all ages. It’s a place where we’ve been called by God in Christ, to work for God’s justice and equity through our social justice ministries with the working poor, with CAC, and Dix Mille Villages and the Care apartment and Plan Canada, and Montreal City Mission and St. Columba House….  and in our new dream to create meaningful partnerships to invest in the wellbeing of First Nations neighbours…..

“You Feed Them.”  He said.

That’s what this is all about (hold up pouch). Because of the choices we’ve made to be partners with God in creation, in tending and mending, welcoming, and feeding, and teaching and witness, in crying out for justice, in serving the world’s needs near and far, we together need to put our flesh and bones to the task of sharing God’s loaves and fishes.

“You Feed Them.” He said.

We need all of us, together,  to bring what we have, what we can, what we can do, all we can be, time, talent, treasure, yes money, together so that we can live God’s Dream for us.

And here’s the most amazing, preposterous thing of all….. Remember God’s words in the prophet Malachi?  “If you bring offerings to the storehouses of my Temple,” Then just watch! I will open the windows of heaven, God’s abundance will pour through this place, in blessing to the world chooses to love, through us. “You feed them.” He said. And they were fed. May it be the same through Cedar Park United.  Amen.

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