The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
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email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Seventh Sunday after Trinity, 2016. Mark 8:1-9.
The Feeding of the Multitude - Warning and Consolation



The Seventh Sunday after Trinity, 2016
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson



The melodies are linked in the hymn title. 
The lyrics are linked in the hymn number.

The Hymn #9                                     O Day of Rest                                        
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #427                    How Firm a Foundation                  

Warning and Consolation


The Communion Hymn #313         O Lord We Praise Thee  The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 199                    Jesus Christ Is Risen Today                 


KJV Romans 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

KJV Mark 8:1 In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. 8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY

Lord God, heavenly Father, who in the wilderness didst by Thy Son abundantly feed four thousand men besides women and children with seven loaves and a few small fishes: We beseech Thee, graciously abide among us with Thy blessing, and keep us from covetousness and the cares of this life, that we may seek first Thy kingdom and Thy righteousness, and in all things needful for body and soul, experience Thine ever-present help; through Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Warning and Consolation

KJV Mark 8:1 In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.

We often think of having enough food in the winter, because our bodies need it to be warm. But that is just as true in the heat, because the body strains to keep cool. Now when we work out in the garden, late in the day or in the cool of the morning, I warn our helper, "Drink water before you get thirsty. We did that in Phoenix because drinking when thirsty was too late. And when someone is dehydrated, thirst disappears. Then people get confused. My mother and her friends did that and one went to the hospital for sitting on a rock - not knowing she was being burned."

In this miracle, the people were following Jesus for three days, so they had used up all their food. Notice that they did not worry about water, because there were places to drink fresh water. Nothing is quite so disappointing as to drink water on an empty stomach. It only mocks our hunger.

Luther makes the point that He did not spend much time on material issues or the government, because His work was to rescue lost and condemned sinners from eternal destruction. His work was entirely spiritual, which meant that He did not secure riches and security for His followers. They experienced just the opposite.

And yet He had compassion on them, knowing that many could not even survive a walk back to their distant homes. They followed Him in faith and now He would take care of them.

4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 

I often hear from those who work on false assumptions, like these disciples. They were logical positivists - how could anyone provide enough food for this great multitude in the desert? If they cannot see the food stands or the fields filled in ripened grains, it could not happen. 

Doubtless they knew about the Exodus and wandering in the desert. God fed them miraculously with manna and even with birds they could catch. But that was then - this is now. 

Likewise, pastors without a call look for a solution within the organization that tossed them unjustly. I have said many times, "Start a Bible study. Give that time. If they want to call you as pastor, you have a congregation." The last time I trusted a denomination we ended up with a place to worship, then a chapel (not even rented!), and then an international outreach. Who would have predicted at that time that live streaming video would allow inexpensive broadcasting to anyone with a computer?

And how could someone stay alive under such uncertain circumstances. Luther said there are two great woes for the Church - poverty and riches. Lutherans are facing both at the same time, and both are destructive. How can anyone afford college and seminary for a position that promises so little, where the DPs gleefully kick out pastors, without cause - only for not going along with the current destructive programs. So other clergy figure false doctrine is the path to success, no matter how much they harm the congregations.



And - on the other hand - the rich old churches are so comfortable in their endowments that nothing is done to feed the congregation spiritually. One staffer said, "Our meetings are often about how to make more money on the endowment funds and also how to get offerings to increase." The ushers club had $6,000 in the bank and so did the youth and the women's club - and they closed the church (merged) and turned the property into apartments.

Rich old denominations have rationalistic clergy and sect leaders. Give them a "study" that shows what is successful, and they will try it. But basic Biblical doctrine makes them uncomfortable. Wealth increases this problem, so they fake with with such phrases as "the mind of Christ" and "the Easter faith of the disciples." If one of these Lutherans is asked about Luther's doctrine, he says, "We don't worship Luther." Of course, that is a clumsy change of subject, answering a question that was not asked.

In Connecticut we visited former Congregational churches, enormous buildings with plenty of money and few members. They kept going with their endowments. The old seminaries are the canary in the coal mines. They are so rich in funds and so lacking in students that they are moving and merging to keep going in some way.

God is not lacking, but faith in God is.

For if each will consider the welfare only of his own house and seek how he may maintain himself and no one inquires how the Word of God and the office of the ministry are to be perpetuated, then will God also say as he said in the prophecy of Haggai 1:4-11, where the people also left the house of the Lord desolate, neglected God’s Word and the service of the temple, so that the priests and servants of the temple had to resort to work as farmers and learn to do other things, by which they could support themselves because nothing was given for their office and service.

Therefore he speaks thus: “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your ceiled houses, while this house lieth waste? Now therefore thus saith Jehovah of hosts: Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith Jehovah of hosts:

Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith Jehovah.

5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 

This is not a communion lesson, but the multiplication of loaves teaches against objections to the Real Presence. How can Christ give His body and blood for centuries? If someone denies the Real Presence, he is also rejecting this miracle. If he rejects this miracle, he is also rationalizing about the Real Presence. In the long run, this leads to rejection of the Holy Trinity, then God, until finally there are clergy with MDiv degrees who believe nothing at all - serving denominations where this is not an embarrassment - 
  1. The Ethical Society, 
  2. Unitarian-Universalists, 
  3. Episcopalians 
  4. and all the mainline denominations, every one following the path of the first two. Thus there are some believing Episcopalian clergy, but the apostates rule and barely tolerate the believers.
This verse shows how the bread was blessed with thanks, broken, and distributed through the disciples.

7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them

Bread is very satisfying when people are hungry - and quickly turns to starch into sugar. Nothing is quite so inviting as bread, especially when fresh or heated or toasted.

But fish really makes this a fine meal for the multitude - protein, fat, and minerals for the starved people. With the water available at the oasis, they had an excellent meal to take them home again. Like the miraculous catch of fish, they received spiritual food first and then saw the miracle of miraculous abundance - before their very eyes. 



8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

They were all completely satisfied, and yet the 4,000 had baskets of fragments left, each one greater than the original amount. 

Lenski offered that saving the fragments in the baskets is a sign of taking care of what God has provided. I see that happen with the bird feeders. A variety of birds (and squirrels) work through the platform feeder to get their meals. The young squirrels eat like teenage boys, but they do not eat everything. Each type of bird eats for a time and leaves. They are a bit sloppy, so some feed at the platform, others on the ground. What they miss grows into new plants to feed even more animals - if all goes well.

Sassy and I walk past blocks lined with garbage. We do not dumpster dive for food but we check over the cardboard and tree supplies, bags of leaves especially. Some treasure I can take home in my arms - large lumps of rotten wood. Others get picked up in the Town Car. God turns scrap cardboard into improved soil - through mulching - and rotten wood feeds various animals while slowing feeding the soil.

17. We are, to be sure, thus familiar with the fact that corn grows yearly out of the earth, and through this familiarity we are so blinded that we do not esteem such work. For what we see daily and hear, that we do not regard as miraculous; and yet it is even as great; yea, if one should speak correctly, it is a greater miracle that God should give us corn out of the sand and the stone, than that he should here feed a multitude with seven loaves. For what is the dry sand but crushed stones, or a stone other than sand and earth welded together; but how can bread which we eat come out of stones, and yet it grows only out of the sand of the earth? In like manner everything that grows, and all the animals give to us, each according to his own nature; whence does it come but out of the earth and dust?

18. These are even the miracles which have been established from the beginning of the world and daily continue, so that we are entirely overwhelmed by them, without our eyes and senses feeling them, since they are so common that God must at times, as he does here, perform not a greater, but a special miracle, which is extraordinary by which he awakens us and through such an individual and special miracle he shows us and leads us into the daily miracles of the whole world.

As I point out in the Creation gardening posts, these continuing miracles are not only one of Creation itself, but also the engineering and management of God. I stood with my eyes a few inches from the Crepe Myrtle blooms yesterday. The flowers look like big, pink Christmas trees. Although the wind was blowing, the finy Ichneumon wasps were working the flowers to feed themselves, create families, and protect me against insect pests. Also hovering were various bees who wanted pollen and nectar. Each plant is created and engineered for certain jobs, just as each creature is. But the best part is the software management programs built into them, where each one balances the others.

Miraculous Abundance Comes with Thanksgiving to God
The Jehovah's Witnesses cannot understand how Jesus, as God, prays to God the Father, and gives thanks. One JW said, "I can't understand that," meaning Jesus cannot be God. I said, "Neither can my dog."

John's Gospel explains this with great clarity - often. The Son and the Father work together in perfect harmony and this is witnessed by the Holy Spirit. I could not preach this without the Holy Spirit, and you could not comprehend it without the Holy Spirit.

When people are angered by sound doctrine, they lack the discernment of the Holy Spirit. They may be believers in some way, as tepid Lutherans are, but they need the conviction of the Holy Spirit that they do not utterly trust in Christ. John 16:8ff.

With thanksgiving, God makes a little into miraculous abundance. When we are bitter about the strife and uncertainty of life, God allows an abundance to turn into very little. I met a man who lost $20 million dollars. I do not think he ever recovered from the shock. We also met someone who lost everything in a food in St. Louis, his entire business washed away without any insurance. He said, "OK. Let's make it better than ever." We ate at his place, and we had to be there at opening time just to get a seat. Reason told him he was sitting in the desert alone. But faith told him he had another chance in life.

He told an interesting story where a prospective employee (who could make $50 an hour) was mouthy and unpleasant to him when she came looking for a job. She snapped at him several times, not knowing he was the owner. Once she realized it, she was so apologetic. Most would not hire someone like that. He did, perhaps because God gave him several chances - including a bout with bad health.

This is an old story, which is based on what I gleaned from Luther. I was asked to speak to a very hard-working but anxious colleague at the insurance agency. He was terrified of not making it financially. I asked him about all the basic doctrines of the Faith.
Do you believe God created the Universe?
Do you believed the Son of God was born of the Virgin Mary?
Do you believed in His miracles?
Do you believe He died for your sins and rose from the dead?

He answered "Yes" to all those questions.

So I asked, "Do you think this same God who did all these things cannot keep you and your family fed?"

He smiled while tears dripped from his eyes. He knew the contradiction which was plaguing him (the smile) and the reality of God's miraculous care (the tears). That lesson struck me first and I never forgot it, from a sermon 500 years ago, and it deeply affected him, as I heard from our boss too.

The multitude that followed Jesus into the desert were fed spiritually first. They would not have been there except for their faith in Him. And then, without them asking, Jesus fed them with great abundance, miraculously, graciously, to confirm their faith in Him and to care for their bodily needs.

We are facing terrible times in the US and the world. Let us never let go of that faith that took the multitudes into the wilderness where God cared for them.