The End of the Sidewalk

2020-08-02 – Year A – Proper 13 – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas

Nehemiah 9:16-21; Psalm 78:14-26; Matthew 14:13-21

  • The end of the sidewalk – unsure of what is next, can’t see where to go.
  • There are lots of things that can make us feel like we have reached the end of a sidewalk: Coronavirus, loss of income, political fears, health circumstances.
  • When we get anxious about our present circumstances, we develop a feeble memory for God’s blessings in the past.
  • This is nothing new, we see it so many times in the Scriptures and throughout history.

Our Lack of Faith

  • Imagine that you are one of the Israelites in the wilderness. A group of men has just returned from spying out the promised land. “It’s occupied by giants!,” they say.
  • Upon hearing of the size and strength of the people in Canaan that they would have to fight they complained and rebelled. Numbers 14:1-4
    • This wasn’t their first rebellion. There were many! Exodus 16:2-3 (no bread)
    • Numbers 11:4-6 (they wanted meat)
  • Matthew sets up a parallel between the Manna in the wilderness and this miraculous feeding of the 5,000. Notice, the event in Matthew takes place at a desolate place (Matthew 14:13).
    • The disciples encourage Jesus to send the crowd home.
    • Jesus tells his disciples to feed the crowd, and all they can see is their lack of resources in the face of so many hungry people (Matthew 14:17).
  • Have you ever faced a lack of resources? How did you feel?
    • I have faced many of these situations in my life and I have often felt anxious.
    • I have often scrambled to find practical solutions to my problems.
    • God has always been faithful to provide.
    • The more I have seen him provide, the more I have been able to trust him.

God’s Abundant Provision

  • Manna and water in the wilderness
    • All the Israelites needed to do was cry out to God, and he was able to supply them with bread, water, and meat in the wilderness.
    • God used Moses and his faith as he cried out on behalf of the people.
    • All throughout the time in the wilderness, God sustained his people and gave them a visible sign of his presence with them and leading them. (Nehemiah 9:19-21)
    • When I hear of God’s faithfulness and visible presence in the midst of Israel, I wonder how they had such trouble trusting him.
    • On the other hand, I know that I, too, forget God’s history of provision for me when I get anxious about my situation.
  • This has not been an easy year for our finances as a church.
    • We knew that entering the year. We made significant cuts and reduced staff salaries and even still we knew there was likely to be a deficit.
    • And then the Coronavirus came on the scene and we had to suspend meeting together as a church.
    • Many churches have faced a significant decrease in giving while not meeting.
    • I was so encouraged to see checks continuing to come in from so many of you. This was God’s provision for our church.
    • Payroll protection loan

The Glory of God Around the Corner

  • Let’s return to Jesus, his disciples, and the crowd in that desolate place
  • As the disciples bemoan their lack of resources, Jesus responds by simply saying “bring them here to me” (v. 18).
    • He takes the loaves and fishes, looks up to heaven and blesses them, and then has his disciples pass out the food to the hungry crowd.
    • When they were finished, everyone was satisfied and they took up an abundance of extra. God didn’t just provide enough, he provided more than enough.
  • When the disciples found themselves at a dead end, they wanted to send the crowd home. They didn’t realize that God’s glorious provision was just around the corner.
  • I would love for things to go back to normal! In some ways, I can understand the Israelites who wanted to return to Egypt, who wanted to return to what they knew.
    • And yet, I wonder what God is about to do. What new things might he be calling us into as a church? I don’t want to miss what he is doing right now as I look back over my shoulder to what was.
  • So what are you concerned about right now?
    • I can’t tell you exactly how God will bring his glory into your situation, but I know he has always been faithful to me in the past, and I know this isn’t the end of the sidewalk for you.
    • Remember his faithfulness in your life and trust him.

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