The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Laetare, The Fourth Sunday in Lent, 2017. John 6:1-15.
The Feeding of the Five Thousand

By Norma Boeckler


Laetare Sunday, The Fourth Sunday in Lent, 2017

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #9           O Day of Rest and Gladness 
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 #316    O Living Bread from Heaven 

Our Daily Bread

The Communion Hymn #508    Thou Whose Almighty Word
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 # 50             Lord Dismiss Us 

KJV Galatians 4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

KJV John 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. 5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

Fourth Sunday In Lent
Lord God, heavenly Father, who by Thy Son didst feed five thousand men in the desert with five loaves and two fishes: We beseech Thee to abide graciously also with us in the fullness of Thy blessing. Preserve us from avarice and the cares of this life, that we may seek first Thy kingdom and Thy righteousness, and in all things perceive Thy fatherly goodness, through Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God world without end. Amen.


By Norma Boeckler



Our Daily Bread

KJV John 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

In this miracle Jesus displayed His ability to take care of a vast group of people when no help seemed near. People followed Him because of His miracles in healing those who were diseased. The Gospel of John consistently teaches that Jesus combined His teaching with His miracles to bolster their confidence in Him as the Son of God and Savior.

The people had been trained in the Scriptures for centuries and knew the Old Testament Promises. There were also current expectations, some of them false, some true. Those who looked for a material Kingdom of God expected a warrior king, little realizing how limited that was. Many warrior kings entered history and left an empire behind, but they are mostly forgotten and their empires are shrunken, even buried in the dust. No one would believe today that Portugal was a world empire with that most precious technology advance - maps of the ocean (perhaps from the Chinese).

Spain and Portugal battled for world dominance - now they are two of the PIGS - four countries known for debt problems (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain). Alexander conquered the world, 300 years before Christ. As LI said, "Alexander was the last notable thing to come out of Greece."

On the other hand, Messianic expectations could be realized in some ways. One hope was abundance, especially since the history of Israel involved great suffering and want. The Messiah would bring great prosperity to people, and that has been realized in the West - even if often forgotten.

By following Jesus into an area with no food, the people showed their faith in Him. Before they could ask or figure out what to do, Jesus provided an answer.

This is where Luther's view of the Bible is especially clear. The Word can accomplish anything, from the forgiveness of sin to the feeding of a multitude. When people modify the meaning of God's Word, they emphasize what is reasonable to them. I discussed this with a Lutheran last night. Calvin placed reason above the Scriptures, which leads to such notions as people sharing their hidden food after a boy shamed them by offering his. Of course, this explanation is entirely lacking from the text, but it is reasonable for rationalistic people.

But the Creating Word can change His own laws of Creation, since those laws are part of the ongoing management system engineered into every item of this universe, from the behavior of electrons to the mothering instinct of animals. This is the very definition of a miracle - going against the natural laws.

Yesterday, in the rain, I scattered borage seed in various areas of the garden, especially among the roses. This herb, nicknamed Bee Bread, has a special quality (besides feeding bees). When borage flowers, the population of beneficial insects increases. I count on good insects to protect the roses from aphids and other destructive creatures. I did not create, engineer, or set up the management of borage, bees, and beneficials. The coordination is miraculous for those who consider how difficult management can be. But this miracle goes far beyond what God shows us in life around us.

The response of the people is easy enough to understand. "If Jesus can heal diseases, then we can trust Him in the desert." The same thinking should motivate us. "If Jesus can feed the multitude in the wilderness, then we can trust Him to provide for us as well."

Luther:
1. In today’s Gospel Christ gives us another lesson in faith, that we should not be over-anxious about our daily bread and our temporal existence, and stirs us up by means of a miracle; as though to say by his act what he says by his words in Matthew 6:33: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” For here we see, since the people followed Christ for the sake of God’s Word and the signs, and thus sought the Kingdom of God, he did not forsake them but richly fed them. He hereby also shows that, rather than those who seek the Kingdom of God should suffer need, the grass in the desert would become wheat, or a crumb of bread would be turned into a thousand loaves; or a morsel of bread would feed as many people and just as satisfactorily as a thousand loaves; in order that the words in Matthew 4:4 might stand firm, that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” And to confirm these words Christ is the first to be concerned about the people, as to what they should eat, and asks Philip, before they complain or ask him; so that we may indeed let him care for us, remembering that he cares more and sooner for us than we do for ourselves.

2. Secondly, he gives an example of great love, and he does this in many ways. First, in that he lets not only the pious, who followed him because of the signs and the Word, enjoy the food; but also the slaves of appetite, who only eat and drink, and seek in him temporal honor; as follows later when they disputed with him at Capernaum about the food, and he said to them in John 6:26: “Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs, but because ye ate of the loaves,” etc., also because they desired to make him king; thus here also he lets his sun shine on the evil and the good, Matthew 5:45.


3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. 

What is the significance of going up on the mountain? Jesus spent time alone with His disciples. He did not need to see the multitude coming, but the disciples had a chance to see the multitudes from above, surely a breathtaking and scary sight. Many times when we look at a challenge from such a perspective, it is overwhelming.

Many saw the bad economy coming from a distance, and it proved to be even worse than expected. Add to that the changes in technology that make former jobs old-fashioned or obsolete.

This way the disciples could contemplate their doom with human reason. That vast multitude would die in the desert and they would be blamed for drawing them there.

The response of the disciples to the crisis suggests that, with how short or rude they were to Jesus.



 5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 

Luther:
2. Secondly, he gives an example of great love, and he does this in many ways. First, in that he lets not only the pious, who followed him because of the signs and the Word, enjoy the food; but also the slaves of appetite, who only eat and drink, and seek in him temporal honor; as follows later when they disputed with him at Capernaum about the food, and he said to them in John 6:26: “Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs, but because ye ate of the loaves,” etc., also because they desired to make him king; thus here also he lets his sun shine on the evil and the good, Matthew 5:45.

Secondly, in that he bears with the rudeness and weak faith of his disciples in such a friendly manner. For that he tests Philip, who thus comes with his reason, and Andrew speaks so childishly on the subject, all is done to bring to light the imperfections of the disciples, and on the contrary to set forth his love and dealings with them in a more beautiful and loving light, to encourage us to believe in him, and to give us an example to do likewise; as the members of our body and all God’s creatures in their relation to one another teach us. For these are full of love, so that one bears with the other, helps and preserves what God has created.


I put the responses in blue because they are a bit humorous in light of what we know, and they sound like so many council meetings I have attended. "How can we build an addition for cash?" Later we started a congregation with no money, no land, no chairs, no hymnals, and no building - and God provided. 

Our response toward trusting in God is often quite grumpy, as the disciples were. They were perfectly reasonable, if one omits the power of the Word, which was not an assumption in their argumentation. Nevertheless, Jesus remains friendly and simply begins the miracle.

They were in a grassy place, which means they had plenty of water from natural sources. This was an oasis, but one without food. Nothing is crueler to the stomach than drinking water with no food. It only makes the lack of food seem worse, as we discovered in school, waiting for lunch and having nothing but water fountains to fill our stomachs.

10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

The miracle begins with the giving of thanks, which reminds us of the Lord's Supper and connects both miracles. The first is a miracle for sustaining the body. The second is a miracle for strengthening our faith and the soul. Denying one denies the other, because if we cannot grasp the Word providing the Body and Blood of Christ for millions over the centuries, then we cannot comprehend Jesus feeding the multitude in the desert.

And thus it is, that man's reason quickly reduces the revelation of the Scriptures to nothing, as many eras have proven to be true. And if they is true, then man does not benefit from God's blessings but simply gets by on his own with positive thinking, management by objectives, and ginning up his self-esteem.

The efficacy of the Word is so important that it connects everything we know about the Christian Faith and God's revelation in the Scriptures. Children know this simple truth, that God's Word can do anything. Adults lose that child-like faith and harden themselves against it.

The tradition of the readings at the Easter Vigil service remind the congregation and ministers of all that God has done through the Word. His divine Word has not lost its power.

12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 

Everyone ate as much as he wished, and they were famished. Nevertheless, they gathered far more fragments than the original amount of loaves and fish. First of all, this demonstrates the miraculous abundance God provides by His Word, as Jesus suggested would happen. This way, the disciples and the crowd experienced it.

The gathering of the fragments shows that "nothing is wasted" in God's world. I try to show people that in this area. They rake up their leaves and put them neatly into bags. I grab them and spread them over my gardens. They like their pine needles but have too many, so I take wheelbarrows of them and make a soft blanket for various areas where I don't mind a more acidic soil or the scent of pine. This blanket of organic matter shields the soil from evaporation of the rain, from wind and water erosion. Then it slowly decays into the soil to be used by fungus, bacteria, earthworms, and ultimately tree and plant roots. Nothing is wasted. 

The miracle shows that no matter how much they used up, God provided even more, even though the disciples began by doubting how they could feed the multitude, even by buying food.

14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

The ending shows - and so does the rest of the chapter - that some believed and others were offended and dropped away. Jesus perfectly fulfilled certain expectations that were about before His public ministry, so they thought - "This is our anointed King. He will restore Israel." They thought they were believers, but their understanding was darkened and they did not understand Jesus' sermon on the Bread if Life.

He was re-enacting the miracle of manna during the Exodus, as clearly as possible, but they wanted man's dreams fulfilled, not God's Word revealed. This still shows His kindliness because the food was given to all, not just to those who believed in sincerity and truth.

 By Norma Boeckler


Significance for Us Today
This miracle should support our faith in the Real Presence. Many Protestants say they believe in the feeding of the multitudes by the Word, but they have trouble with This Is My Body, which is consecration by the Word. In fact, some "conservative" Lutherans still persist in saying the elements become the Body  and Blood of Christ when received, as if the consecrating Word has no effect.

Holy Communion is a great miracle, a sacrament to be valued and honored by all believers. 

Secondly, this miracle reminds us of how God provides even when nothing seems possible. For one thing, those who trust in Him and pray  for solutions to difficult problems will be guided by His Spirit in the Word to solve those difficulties or at least to take those difficulties from their hearts.

God sometimes answers in ways contrary to our wishes, but His gracious will is revealed in how He works in the end rather than at the moment. Paul Gerhardt's most difficult years were his last years, which no one would wish upon a great, sincere Christian leader and writer. But when people mention comforting hymns, his hymns come up first, and he wrote the best ones in his last years. Moreover, he is so known as Germany's poet that he continues to teach the Gospel to people even from their national or ethnic interest.

Christians do well because they do not have to have everything, that is, eat the entire feast for the 5,000 by themselves, as some would like to do. Nothing shows lack of faith more than wanting to pile up more and rob more people of the spoils to make a life seem worthwhile. 

That thankfulness and inherent frugality makes all the difference in what can be enjoyed. It increases the value of everything and makes those material things last longer and better. I told one man, who is addicted, "You must have a lot of money." He said, "No I don't." I said, "I can't afford to drink and smoke all the time. You have money for both but say you want to feed your children." Those addictions have eaten up thousands of dollars due to lost wages, fines, accidents, and injuries. It is not wonder the great and wise value addictions because they take everything from them and then give back 2% as charitable giving.