Sermons 2006

"Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15

Home | "Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18 | Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006 | "What then shall we do?", Advent 3C , 17 December 2006, Luke 3:7-18 | "Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31 | Which Jesus? Proper 29B 2006, 26 November 2006, John 18:33-37 | Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23 | "The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44 | "The Commandments to love God, Neighbor, One Another" Proper 26B, 5 November 2006, Mark 12:28-34 | "Sight -- and Seeing" Proper 25B, 29 October 2006, Mark 10:46-52 | "Baptism: Overwhelming Washing", Proper 24B, 22 October 2006 Mark 10:35-45 | "God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31 | "Divorce", Proper 22B, 8 February 2006, Mark 10: 2-9 | "Hard Sayings and Sharp Words", Proper 21B, 1 October 2006, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 | "First or Last?" Proper 20B, 24 September 2006, Mark 9:30-37 | "Unintended Consequences", Proper 19B, 17 September 2006, Mark 8:27-38 | "Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37 | "Rituals", Proper 17B, 3 September 2006, Deuteronomy 4:1-9; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | "Choices." Proper 16B, 30 August 2006, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-25; John 6:60-69 | "Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59 | "Do not be afraid." Proper 12B, 30 July 2006, Mark6:45-52 | "General Convention and Jesus' Compassion", Proper 11B, 23 July 2006, Mark 6: 30-44 | "Basics for the Journey", Proper 10B, 16 July 2006, Mark 6:7-13 | "Jesus and Rejection", Proper 9B, 9 July 2006, Mark 6:1-6 | "Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43 | "Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41 | Mighty things from Small, Proper 6B, 18 June 2006, Mark 4:26-34 | Trinity, Pentecost 1, 11 June 2006, Exodus 3:1-6; John 3:1-16 | The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23 | "That they may be one" General Convention 2006, Easter 7B 28 May 2006, John 5:9-15 | "Friends, friendship, and love" Easter 6B, 21 May 2006, John 15:9-17 | Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21 | "Interesting, this Good Shepherd!" Easter 4B, 7 May 2006, John 10:11-16 | "How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48 | "Do you believe because...." Easter 2B, 23 April 2006, John 20:19-31 | "He goes before you to Galilee...." Easter B 2006, 16 April, Mark 16:1-8 | "Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47 | "Sir, we would see Jesus!" Lent 5B, 2 April 2006, John 12:20-33 | "Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15 | "Rage, Rampage, and Outrage", Lent 3B, 19 March 2006, John 2: 13-22 | "Images of the Cross", Lent 2B, 12 March 2006, Mark 8:31-38 | "Baptism, Temptation, Redemption," Lent 1B, 5 March 2005, Mark 1:9-13 | Ash Wednesday , 1 March 2006, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | ""Nanny McPhee' and transfiguration", Epiphany Last B, Mark 9:2-9 | "Jesus, leprosy, and the law of Moses", Epiphany 6B, 12 February 2006, Mark 1:40-45 | "Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39 | "Haints, Unclean spirits, and demons" Epiphany 4B, 22 January 2006, Mark 1:21-28 | Epiphany 3B, 22 January 2006, "God's Call -- and Our Response", Mark 1:14-20 | Epiphany 2B, 15 January 2006, "Call and Response", John 1:43-51 | Epiphany 1B, 8 January 2006, "The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours", Mark 1:7-11 | The Holy Name, 1 January 2006, Luke 2: 15-21

Lent 4B 2006 John 6:14-23

One summer, a drought threatened the crop in a small town. On a hot and dry Sunday, the village parson told his congregation, "There isn't anything that will save us except to pray for rain. Go home, pray, believe, and come back next Sunday ready to thank God for sending rain."

The people did as they were told and returned to church the following Sunday. But as soon as the parson saw them, he was furious. "We can't worship today. You do not yet believe," he said.

"But," they protested, "we prayed, and we do believe."
"Believe?" he responded. "Then where are your umbrellas?" (1)

We modern people sometimes have great difficulty with miracles. We are surrounded by miracles become so ordinary we hardly notice: marvelous treatments for cancer, artificial knees and hips, just to address only two categories of ordinary medical miracles now routine in our time.

Think about other things we take as routine: The first electric toaster appeared in 1909. It toasted one side at a time and required constant vigilance: when the toast was done, you pulled the plug. The first automatic electric toaster was designed in 1919 by Charles Strite, a man sick and tired of burned toast. From 1922 to 1930 toaster sales tripled, from 400,000 units to 1,200,000, thanks in part to the introduction of sliced bread by Wonder.

Some people thought that pre-sliced Wonder bread was about the neatest thing they had ever heard of ” so the phrase, "That's the greatest thing since sliced bread." . Our lesson today is about bread. Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever." John devotes the entire sixth chapter of his Gospel to this one theme: Christ is the bread of life. He is nourishment for our hungry souls.

(in The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread, Collected Sermons, King Duncan, Dynamic Preaching, 2005)

An Armenian Christian once told a Westerner that Westerners do not understand what Jesus was saying when he said, "I am the Bread of Life." In the Middle East, bread is not just something extra thrown in at a meal. It is the heart of every meal. They have those thin pieces of pita bread at every meal. Some strict religious people there would not think of taking forks and putting them in their mouths. To put an object in your mouth defiles it. You certainly would not take a fork out and put it in again and go on defiling yourself like that. Instead, you break off a piece of the bread, pick up your food with it and eat it. Indeed, the only way you can get to the main dish, he said, is with the bread. (2) Jesus was saying that the only way you can come to life is through him.

I myself struggle with the Feeding Miracles. Not that I don’t believe that Jesus, God Incarnate, couldn’t have done it. It’s the whole question of miracle that causes me to think.

Take the matter of the feeding of the five thousand. Some – along with others more skeptical, have analyzed the report of such miracles in the Gospels and have produced differing ways of thinking about them.

One is that this story is about one thing only; Jesus Christ. He is the bread of life. The feeding of the multitude with material bread is purely symbolic, and tends to get in the way of the true "spiritual" meaning of the story.

A second is that this story is very simple and earth bound and there is nothing "spiritual" about it. People in this world are hungry. J esus gives them food. The only message is go and do likewise. The hungry people of the world need calories not sermonsand any food at all, no matter how it comes to them, is for them a miracle.

A third is that once the boy produced his fie loaves and offered them up to be shared, everyone else in the crowd pulled oout their bags of travel fish and bread – the normal wayfarer’s meal there and then, and shared them all around. (3)

And the last is that the miracle occurred exactly the way it is reported in the Gospels. You can take your choice, I suppose, but this last one is the one I really want to believe.

During Operation Desert Storm 16 years ago, Al and Barbara Davis, a retired Virginia couple, read that soldiers in the field weren't getting enough potassium and protein. One problem was that bananas, an excellent source of potassium, spoiled before they could get to the soldiers.

So Al and Barbara had an idea: why not make banana-nut bread and send it to the soldiers overseas? Their bread-making operation became a daily task: they made 100 loaves every morning, which they mailed to soldiers in the Middle East. Since 1991 when they first began their bread- baking, Al and Barbara Davis made and mailed over 35,000 loaves of bread to U.S. troops. It was like manna from heaven. (4) Indeed, a miracle of sorts.

So how could this tiny crew of 13 men respond to the needs of thousands of people? None of the Twelve could figure it out at first. But finally they got it. Do what Jesus said. They made the people sit down and wait. And all were fed, with twelve baskets of food left over.

A great Christian once wrote: "Christianity is not a voice in the wilderness, but a life in the world. It is not an idea in the air but feet on the ground going God's way. It is not an exotic to be kept under glass, but a hardy plant to bear twelve months of fruits in all kinds of weather. Fidelity to duty is its root and branch. Nothing we can say to the Lord, no calling Him by great or dear names, can take the place of doing His will. We may cry out about the beauty of eating bread with Him in His kingdom, but it is wasted breath and a rootless hope unless we plow and plant in His kingdom here and now. To remember Him at His table and to forget Him at ours, is to have invested in bad securities. There is no substitute for plain, every-day goodness." (5)


1. Steve Goodier, “Bring Your Umbrella”, One Minute Can Change a Life, Life Support System Publishing, 1999, p.24.
2. As told in “The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread”, Collected Sermons, King Duncan, Dynamic Preaching, 2005
3. Selected Sermon for Lent 4B 1997,
4. As told in “Bread from Heaven”, Collected Sermons, King Duncan, Dynamic Preaching, 2005.
5. Quoted in Faith-based Living, Collected Sermons, King Duncan, Dynamic Preaching, 2005)

Wicomico Parish Church
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Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579