AGAPE LIFE (Part 3) Breaking Bread, Mark 6:30-44, Pastor Carey, November 11, 2017

A wise soul once said that kindness will influence more than eloquence.  We need each other in our world. C. S. Lewis writes in his book, Studies In Theology, “God seems to do nothing of Himself which He can possibly delegate to His creatures. He commands us to do slowly and blunderingly what He could do perfectly and in the twinkling of an eye.” A young woman was waiting for a bus in a dangerous part of the city when a rookie policeman approached her and asked, “Want me to wait with you? She replied, “Thank you but that is not necessary, I’m not afraid.”  The policeman said with a grin, “Well then, would you mind waiting with me?”

30 111217 Agape love transforms life – our life!  Because we have received agape love from Jesus and because we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are called to live out agape love in every part of our life: what we say and what we do.  Living agape life has incredible blessing and transformation possibilities whenever we live into and out of agape love with others.  Three weeks ago Mylicia shared that agape life invites us to serve Jesus by serving others in Jesus’ name – to wash their feet.  Last week we discussed how living and sharing agape life raises the dead.  Today let’s consider how breaking bread leads to re-discovering just how Jesus calls us to love others with compassion like he loves others.

31 111217Did you know that there are 180 different types of bread listed on one internet site?  Bread is a universal, world-wide food, not unique to any continent.  Each nationality has unique bread made with similar grains and eaten with regional foods.  Most bread is made from flour and water that is mixed into dough and baked.  There is nothing quite like the smell of fresh-baked bread in the air.  Hollins Mill Road in Lynchburg was the way we would travel to visit my Grandparents home.  That is where the Flowers – formerly Sunbeam Bakery is located.  And if we were lucky we would drive by about the time the bread was baking.  The aroma is still etched deeply in my memory and comes to life every time I smell it.  Bread is the food of life for so many in the world every day. No wonder Jesus used bread to illustrate himself and his ministry.

32 111217Jesus was very familiar with bread.  He was born in Bethlehem, Judea, a small town whose name means House Of Bread.  In John 6, Jesus proclaimed himself – the bread of life.  At the Last Supper Jesus referenced his body as the bread that was broken.  Over and over again, the Gospels share stories of Jesus eating bread with others at meals.

The expression, breaking bread has 2 main meanings, one is a very formal part of our faith practice and the other informal – both involve fellowship: 1) to celebrate Holy Communion, Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper; 2) to share a meal together with others.  (Breaking bread with God and breaking bread with others.)33 111217

Our scripture lesson today takes place in the midst of a very busy time.  The disciples had been sent out, two-by-two, to neighboring villages to minister.  They returned about the same time Jesus hears of the death of his cousin John, so Jesus and the 12 decide to find a quiet place to eat and rest.  But the people follow them and as he gets out of the boat, Jesus sees the crowd, and has compassion on them.  His disciples suggest that he send everyone away to neighboring villages to buy their own dinner, but Jesus used that moment to teach them then, and us today of how to see others like he sees them in the breaking of bread.

34 111217We break bread Jesus-style when we see another’s need and respond to meet those needs.  How well do we respond to others with compassion?  Two Cub Scouts, whose brother has fallen into the lake rushed home to Mom with tears in their eyes.  In between sobs they told her, “We tried to give him artificial respiration, but he keeps getting up and walking away!”
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It is so easy to pass off difficult tasks, especially when we are tired.  We may find ourselves saying, “Let someone else take care of them.” Yet, fatigue does not appear to be a valid excuse to avoid a neighbor’s need.  When the disciples see the crowd and suggest Jesus send them away, Jesus told THEM to feed the crowd!  What?  How?  Who is going to pay?  We don’t have enough resources!  So Jesus tells them to find what was available – 5 rolls and 2 sardines.  Jesus blessed and broke the bread and began distributing. The people were instructed to sit in groups of 100 or 50 and when all was said and done, there were 12 basketfuls of bread leftover – one basket for each reluctant and doubting disciple! The lesson for the 12 was that they (we) have a responsibility to compassionately meet needs, using Jesus resources to do it.  And Jesus always supplies plenty when we love as he loves and respond as he responds.

36 111217The natural rhythm of faith life is sleep and work; we cannot work as effectively if we are lacking sleep and sleep won’t be as good if we have not worked well.  The same is true in our spiritual lives.  We first spend time with God in worship, prayer, devotional and study time and then we spend time in the world.  We must always be careful to not be so busy that we miss out on God’s recharging our faith and strength.  And we must guard against letting time with God become an excuse to avoid serving others and missing the blessing of revealing Christ to others in our actions.

37 111217A pastor of a fairly large church took his young family to Chipotle for lunch after worship.  It had been a very busy morning and the pastor was ready for a good burrito and time with his wife and kids.  As they were walking in a young man butted in front of them and then turned and told the pastor that his name was Reid and that he was broke, stranded and needed money for a bus ticket to Florida.  The pastor told him that he didn’t have that amount of money on him so the stranger asked him, “Then can you buy my lunch?” Realizing he had been outsmarted, the pastor said, “Sure, glad to do that for you.”

As Reid went through the line, the first thing he did was order the steak burrito (most expensive) and then asked for double steak!  The pastor thought to himself, “I don’t get double steak – I don’t even let my wife or kids get it even if it were their birthday!”  As he got to the end of the counter, Reid asked for guacamole – another extra charge item on the menu and then got the large bag of chips and salsa – also an extra charge and a drink.

After paying for everyone’s lunch ($12 more than normal because of Reid) the pastor told Reid, “He I want you to know that I’m a Christian and I bought your lunch to tell you that Jesus loves you!”  Reid smiled and said, “OK, great.  Thanks!” and went to a table in the corner and ate lunch.  The pastor and his family sat on the other side of the restaurant. And with the episode with Reid still in his mind, he couldn’t enjoy his food.  He even snapped at one of the kids and was fretful for the rest of the day.

The next morning, during his prayer time the pastor told the Lord how he ministered to Reid in the Lord’s name, but was struggling with his sense of frustration.  He felt the Lord say, “You didn’t minister to Reid in my name or in the same way I would have.”  The pastor asked, “What do you mean?”  The Lord said, “I would have started the line by inviting Reid to order the steak, in fact order double, it’s really good here.  The same for the guacamole, I would have insisted he have some on his burrito because theirs was the best.  I would have made sure he ordered the chips and a large drink so he could refill lit on the way out.  But most of all, I would have invited him to eat with me and the family so we could get to know him better.  I would have showed Reid extravagant love!”

Living the agape life invites us to break bread with the Lord and to break bread with others – extravagantly and compassionately.  When we do, the Lord will provide what we need to “feed” others in such a way that Jesus, and only Jesus is glorified!  When we do, be sure to check your basket for leftovers!

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