Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Out of the Depth of Nothing" (Matthew 14:13-21)

The problem is not believing the miracle . . . the problem is living the miracle.  We know that the people are going to be fed.  We have all been to potluck dinners where it looked as if the people out numbered the food by a three-to-one ratio.  We looked over that spread of food and thought that there was no way; but when all the plates were removed and the dishes were washed there were plenty of leftovers for another.  Everyone had their fill, and if anyone left the table hungry . . . well, it was his or her own fault.  I have never been to a potluck when the masses haven't been fed.  It always happens, and I believe it always will. 

But, it is difficult to believe when you have nothing.  After a day of preaching and teaching everyone was hungry . . . the gathered crowd, the disciples and--I imagine, Jesus too. Of course, Jesus being the hospitable guy that he was, told the disciples to feed the masses--we're talking a couple of thousand folks bellying up to the table.  The disciples looked around and didn't see a Pizza Hut or Kentucky Fried Chicken anywhere around, and besides none of them had the money to pay someone to cater the meal in the first place--they were broke and empty handed. How in the world were they going to so many hungry people?

A child offers to them a couple of fish and loaves of bread--hardly enough to even feed the disciples, let alone thousands. This was the best that they could come up with when they approach Jesus with the news.  Of course this was good enough for Jesus. He told the disciples to while he blessed the food and then told them to get up and feed the people.  Despite not truly believing they did as they were told . . . they proceeded to feed the people . . . all the people. And, they were all fed . . . each and every one of them. At the completion of the meal there were many baskets if leftovers much to the astonishment of the disciples. Out of nothing came something . . . something of abundance.

It is not that the disciples didn't want to believe, because they really did; but in looking at the reality of their situation and the resources which they had--which was nothing, it was hard to believe.  Which brings us to the crux of the problem--how to believe from the depth of nothing.  How does one believe when he or she looks around and there is nothing . . . absolutely nothing . . . no resources, no help, no support, nothing . . . when it seems as there is nothing left to give or do.  How does one continue to believe?

Well, as strange as it sounds, it is out of the depth of nothing that belief is born. Janis Joplin sang in Me and Bobby McGee . . . "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."  This was something that the early Christian mystics learn long ago . . . to let go and let God.  In other words they learned--often the hard way, that it is only out of nothingness that God creates something.  They put it all in the hands of God.  God provides . . . God fills the nothing with something . . . God takes care of business.

Out of the depth of nothing, what do any of us have to offer to God . . . when we feel as if we are nothing, what do we give to God?  We offer to God what we have . . . which is nothing . . . nothing but ourselves . . . and, we believe. We believe in the gracious love of God.  We believe in the miracle.  And, we embrace the gift that comes from nothing.

We have to believe.  We have to believe because we are the children of God. We are created in the image of God . . . each and every one of are a chip off the ol' block. And, we were all created to be what and who God created us to be.  We have to let go of the world and society's ideas and views are . . . to let go and let God take care of business.

As ridiculous as it seemed, the disciples went out to feed the multitude of thousands with a couple of fish and loaves of bread.  Jesus took what seemed like nothing, blessed it, and offered it to God.  God did the rest.  Out of nothing came something . . . abundance.

So it will be for us if we offer ourselves and our lives to God. God will come through and we will discover the gift.  Out of nothing will come something . . . but that will not be the miracle.  No, the miracle will be when we can believe enough to let go and allow God's will to be. Thus it is that out of the depth of nothing there is something.  You've gotta believe!  Amen!

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