Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

2771 Delaware Avenue
Kenmore, NY 1427

(716) 875-7600

A website for Kenmore Presbyterian Church in Kenmore New York.

Pastor's Pages

"Three Challenges We Face: Hunger"

David Randall

Matthew 14: 13-21

Sermon Preached by the Reverend Dr. Howard W. Boswell, Jr.

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, August 6, 2017

Kenmore Presbyterian Church

Kenmore, New York

 

It is rare to find a story told by all four evangelists.

Yet, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell the story of

the feeding of the five thousand.

Each version has its own take on what happens.

For instance: John has Andrew bring a boy with

five loaves and two fishes to Jesus;

Mark gives more dialogue between the disciples and Jesus

and offers more detail as to how the miracle happened.

 

Miracle may create an obstacle to understanding for many of us.

Growing up with a modern mindset,

we assume a miracle is something science has yet to explain

and we look upon them with suspicion.

We assume that God needs to work within the limits we set,

but miracles have a way of outdoing what we think we know.

Yet, to appreciate miracles, we need to know one thing:

Miracles always point beyond themselves to the one who causes the miracle to happen.

 

Anyway, to understand the feeding of the five thousand,        

we need to pay attention to the first five words in Matthew’s telling,

“Now when Jesus heard this…”

What had Jesus heard?

Well, he heard Herod Antipas had John the Baptist beheaded.

While I won’t go into that story,

it appears Jesus took this news hard,

since the rest of Matthew 14:13 says,

“He withdrew from there to

a deserted place by himself.  

But when the crowds heard it,

they followed him on foot from the town.”

 

Maybe, we can appreciate what Jesus tries to do.

When bad news hits us, we want to take some time.

Yet, we also accept that life goes on and people need our attention.

 

When Jesus sees the crowd, waiting for him, Matthew says,

“He had compassion for them and cured their sick.”

Mark gives us a clear image of Jesus’ compassion, saying,

“He had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”

So, there in a deserted place, in the wilderness,

Jesus showed compassion by healing the sick until the day was over.

 

Now, the disciples have what some of us may think is a sensible suggestion.

They think that Jesus should send these people away,

so they could go and get food to eat.

It’s a sensible suggestion, even today.

I remember the cover of a CROP Walk resource.

It showed many people with thought bubbles above their heads, wondering,

“What can one person do about hunger?”

 

We face a challenge to our faith in hunger.

Like the disciples, we don’t believe we can do anything about it.

Some of us even believe it’s not our responsibility to feed the hungry. 

We place the problem at someone else’s feet—

the government or not-for-profit agencies, like the Food Bank.

Yet, every night, in Buffalo, in our neighborhoods, in our nation, around the world,

millions, maybe even billions go to bed hungry.

We wonder, “What can one person do?”

 

I think Jesus’ answer to that question stays the same,

“They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”

Like the disciples, we don’t see how

five loaves and two fish can feed five thousand men and

as little as twice as many women and children.

You see, like the disciples, we buy into a mindset that says there’s not enough.  

We assume that there’s not enough food to go around.

We see resources as scarce.

 

Yet, it is not true.

We have enough and more than enough to go around.

We live in a land of abundance.

Yet, even as people go to bed hungry in Buffalo every night,

we know tons of food go out to the dumpster.

Even as people go to bed hungry in our country,

we know the government pays farmers subsidies to not grow or even destroy crops,

so that the market remains profitable.

Even as people die from hunger in the developing world,

we know supplies stay in the hands of corrupt officials and

people don’t know how to grow food to feed themselves

          and even to make some money.

 

Yet, Jesus takes our meager resources and

does something amazing through the disciples.

With five loaves and two fish, they feed as many as ten thousand or more.

Now, I don’t want to be accused of explaining away a miracle,

but here’s what I believe happened on that day.

After Jesus had the crowds sit down,

he took the five loaves and two fish, blessed them,

and gave them to the disciples to distribute.

I imagine this act of compassion and generosity inspired

those in the crowds to see what they could offer.

As the disciples passed out the five loaves and two fish,

other gifts appeared in the twelve baskets,

until when all was said and done,

everyone was full and the baskets were too.

 

If we hope to follow Jesus in our day, we need compassion and generosity.

With Jesus, we need to look upon those in need with kindness,

offering them gifts from the abundance we have.

With Jesus, we need to be willing to give everything away,

trusting that God will provide more than we can imagine.

 

I ran across a prayer by John Slow, called, “As Jesus Did.”

I hope it can become our prayer as we face the challenge of hunger.

Let us pray:

 

Loving God,

help us to be Christ to all those

whose lives touch ours.

 

May we see others

as Jesus did,

with eyes of compassion.

 

May we listen,

as Jesus did,

to the cries of broken hearts

and a broken world.

 

May we reach out to others,

as Jesus did,

with healing and hope.

 

May we serve others,

as Jesus did,

with no strings attached.

 

May we break bread with others,

as Jesus did,

that the hungry may be fed.

 

May we celebrate with others,

as Jesus did,

your abundant provision.

 

Loving God,

help us to be Christ to all those

whose lives touch ours. Amen.

 

©2017 Kenmore Presbyterian Church

Text here