Sunday, March 18, 2012

May Miracles Never Cease

Today we departed from the conventionally assigned Gospel reading for today, John 3:14-21
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’
There was an obvious linkage between this and our Old Testament reading, Numbers 21:4-9 which contained the story of the snake on a stick.

I cannot explain the deviation from the norm, but I will keep my eyes open for further such occurences.

Instead we heard John 6:4-15, the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand.

This reading served as a basis for today's sermon.

I am glad our preacher put to rest the lie foisted upon us by previous preachers that explained away the miraculous by suggesting that the people may have had food hidden in their cloaks, and after hearing Jesus, they gave of what they had been hoarding in order to feed their neighbors (the old social justice gospel). Interestingly, only a few people raised their hands to indicate that they had heard that lie before (thank the Lord people weren't paying attention back then).   Overall it was a good sermon that put the miracle from God back in the story.

On hearing the story of the feeding of the five thousand again, I was struck by the words (not highlighted in the sermon),
"Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all."

It was the simple description of the place, a place with a great deal of grass, that made me think, "Of course! Where else would the shepherd place His flock but in a green pasture." I chuckled to myself thinking that Jesus does not adivise the hungry flock to eat grass, but instead feeds them the unexpected, in this case: bread and fish.

And today, we were treated to the unexpected.

May miracles never cease.


  1. Dave H12:11 AM

    The old Episcopal lectionary (in the BCP) had this John 6 reading for 4 Lent B. This is echoed in the collect, with its mention of bread.

    Not sure why your rector decided to use it with the RCL's OT reading, though. The old one was from 2 Chronicles.

  2. Anonymous3:50 AM

    You know where that Lection came from, right? I discovered the answer just a few days ago, myself.

  3. Dave H,

    Yep, I am not sure of the reasoning, and I wonder if this is common practice around TEc (to mix and match lectionaries). That's why I called it unconventional and a deviation from the norm.

    I see that the collect worked also with the O.T. reading from Numbers where the people complained about the food.

  4. Rob+,

    Having done my homework, I was expecting John 3:14-21. I guessed the preacher was using one of the other lectionaries, but I didn't have time to look it up during the service. An announcement of the switch would have been helpful. An announcement in the Thursday newsletter would have been even better!

  5. I, for another one, never heard the "hidden food, share with others" version.


    Must be my Baptist literalist upbringing, I guess.


  6. Randall,

    And you probably never heard the alternative explaination of the "great deal of grass" either.

  7. Anonymous1:14 PM

    Real miracles apparently ceased in our Anglican-Episcopal Church (I am Episcopalian), when we broke away from the Church Christ founded. As far as I know, he never authorized anyone--Luther, Calvin, least of all Henry VIII--to start another. I greatly fear we Protestants committed an error of imponderable proportions. Miracles are rare in the Catholic Church, for it, too, is sin-infested, but the few that occur--appearances of the Virgin, healings by the likes of Padre Pio, exorcisms--do so only in the Catholic Church. Protestant priests are unable to exorcise strong demonic entities. Only specially trained Catholic priests can do so. Bottom line: We should all repent of our petulance and return to the True Church, following the example of Henry Cardinal Newman. The Church needs us and we need it. I intend to go back to Mother Church.