2nd Sunday After Pentecost, June 3, 2018
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
How many of you were told when you were little to â€œclean your plate?â€ or â€œDonâ€™t take more than you can eat?â€ or even, â€œDonâ€™t waste food.â€
We have all seen kids and adults waste food, take more than they can eat or leave behind good food in their plates. I am from the generation that heard frequently, â€œClean your plate. There are children in India starving. Donâ€™t waste food.â€ So I grew up and passed the same information on to my children, not about children in India, but children here in the United States, and people here in general. Hunger is an issue in this world and even here, in the country that boasts itâ€™s the best in the world and yet has 41 million people who face hunger, 13 million of which are children, and 5 million of which are seniors.
In our gospel lesson for this morning, Jesus is on the hot seat again with the Pharisees. On the sabbath, Jesus and the disciples were going through the grain fields, and the disciples were plucking the heads of grain to satisfy their hunger. The Pharisees complain to Jesus. â€œWhy are they doing what is
not lawful on the sabbath?â€ Jesus responds to them by saying, â€œHavenâ€™t you ever read what David and his companions did when they were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, and ate the bread that priests made for sacrifice to God, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions?â€ Then Jesus said to his critics, â€œThe sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the sabbath.â€
Jesus is right you know. The sabbath was made as a day of rest, a day when humankind rest from their labors.
But the leaders of Israel had so over interpreted the law and hung on it so many more legalisms, that the law had become both burdensome and heartless. They were saying, â€œYou cannot feed the hungry on the sabbath because that is work.â€ Jesus response is that the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath, and they are not. If he says it is right, and generous, and good and even necessary to care for those who are hungry, those who are in need even on the sabbath, how can they turn them away? How can they ignore the hardship in their midst? They cared more for the law than they had compassion on their brothers and sisters in the world.
The theme for this years Lower Susquehanna Synod Assembly was â€œEradicating Hunger One Relationship at a Time.â€ Our keynote speaker was Mikka McCracken who is the Director for Planning and Engagement for ELCA World Hunger. She was such a warm and engaging speaker as she unpacked our theme for us. She explained that the word â€œEradicateâ€ means â€œto get rid of or destroy completely.â€ It is most often used in reference to diseases like smallpox, which was declared eradicated in 1979. To eradicate hunger would be an amazing thing.
There is enough food produced in the world every year to feed every person in the world. Itâ€™s getting the food to where it is needed that is a problem.
She also said, â€œEradicating hunger is a daunting, not hopeless. As the church, we are powerful because of Jesus Christ. Friends, we act like we have forgotten this.â€ She went on to say, â€œMoney is only part of the equation. Have you heard of the feeding of the 5,000? If they wouldâ€™ve said, we donâ€™t have enough money to feed all of these people, we would have missed that miracle straight up.â€
Sheâ€™s right. While the disciples complained about not having enough, a boy with five small loaves and two fish gladly gave them to Jesus, and through the faith of one boy and a miracle of heaven, 5â€™000 would be fed, and the leftovers gathered up afterwards.
It would be so easy for us to say, we are too small, what can we do? We can and do great things. Here in Marion, we help to find children at risk for hunger on the weekends. We help with Brown Bag. And we helped gather food for the Central PA Foodbank which we took up to synod Assembly. We have members who consistently give to the ELCA World Hunger program. Remember that the world in World hunger, included the US. We are after all, a part of the world.
Feeding the hungry is an act of faith. It is our faith in the blessings and grace of God and the fulfillment of the command of Christ to love one another, and to even love our enemies.
In the days and weeks ahead, think about ways in which we might continue to fight hunger here in Franklin County, and in Pennsylvania as a whole. What ideas do you have of things we might do here at Salem to feed the hungry?
Think about these things, and even more so, pray about them. Pray that God would showÂ us a way to feed the hungry in our county. Feeding the hungry is a response of faith. We feed because we have been fed by Christ.