Bring Me Your Nothing
This week at Trinity a mass of people walked through these doors. It was Vacation Bible School. We have left up some of the decorations and the stage today because we want to continue to celebrate the wonderful things that happened in this place this week. 75 children signed up this week. 31 of them were members of our church which leaves 44 as non-members. Sure some of them might have been members of other churches but there could have been others who were not. This week was a great opportunity, through the Fun Day last Saturday and VBS all week, to reach out to our community.
As you can tell Beach Party was the theme for this week and the kids learned their Be-Attitudes. These were five short phrases that helped them learn how to be better followers of Christ. The five were, if you know them say them along with me, Be Obedient, Be Kind, Be Forgiving, Be Bold and Believe. These are the attitudes that the kids were taught to have in VBS and outside these walls.
Dean is will be two this month but long before today Alycia and I realized that he was in the midst of that wonderful stage that we heard so much about, the Terrible Twos. Now if you have not experienced this phase in life before as a parent, you did as a child so let me remind you of what that looks like. The word no is used a lot. Tantrums are routines in your life and they can happen in different ways. Some children simply cry, and cry, and cry until they get their way. Some children perform the Limp Noodle or the Jell-O Move which means they simply fall to the floor and lose all their abilities to use their muscles. This makes walking impossible which is usually the goal of the child. There are many other attitudes that are shown and I have heard lots of stories about how different children act out during this growing independence stage of their life.
Everything that I have read about how to deal, as a parent, with these terrible twos revolves around the parent’s attitude towards the child. A parent must realize that the child is not trying to be defiant or rebellious (that comes later when they hit the terrible teens). They are only expressing their growing independence and lack the verbal skills to communicate their wishes. This means that the parents need to remember to be kind, be forgiving and believe that their child will grow out of it. If the parents have the right attitude then the terrible twos will be terrific, or at least tolerable.
Our attitudes towards life is extremely important to our well being. There is a movement started by a pastor in Kansas City. He passed out purple bracelets to his congregation. They are to wear the bracelet on one wrist. If the person says something bad about another person, gossips, or complains, that person is to move the bracelet to the other wrist. The goal of this exercise is to keep the bracelet on one wrist for 21 days. The pastor started this to change the attitudes his parishioners had and to try to achieve a complain free world.
How we face life, the attitudes we have says a lot about our character. Many of us are familiar with this story of the feeding of the 5000. But what I was struck by was where this event happens in the life of Jesus. We have been following Jesus talking to the crowds and the disciples. He has been telling them parables and then he went home to talk to the people he grew up around. They took offense to him and he left dejected by the people he love. Then Herod’s wife was able to get John the Baptist’s head cut off and John’s disciples came to tell Jesus his cousin was dead. “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.”
Jesus in the midst of his mourning then sees a huge crowd that came to hear what he had to say about this event. They were there waiting for him as he got out of the boat. “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” In the midst of his grief, in the middle of his pain and his personally suffering, he had compassion on the people surrounding him and he healed them. He was overwhelmed but he had an attitude of compassion, he was bold and kind and he believed he could do some good.
The disciples were on following Jesus and started to worry about the logistics of the day. I can understand where these people were coming from. I am a logistics guy. When I am doing event planning I am constantly thinking about how to get done what needs to be done. What is the most efficient and effective way to deal with the issues that arise. The disciples see a quandary in front of them and they are trying to figure out what to do in order to deal with it. It seems that around 5000 men have come to hear Jesus and to have him heal their sick. This means there is probably double or triple the number because it doesn’t count the women and the children. I don’t know why, it is the stereotypical reasoning that it was a male dominated society in which women and children were considered not that important so only the male numbers were counted. As anybody and it is the mom’s who usually drag the family to church therefore there had to be at least 5000 women or more there. I mean that is why mother’s day is one of the highest attended Sunday’s during the year and everyone sleeps in on Father’s Day.
The fact is the disciples see these thousands of people and know that they are bound to be hungry because it was getting late in the day. They do not have the means nor the money to be able to feed them so they urge Jesus to send them home so they can feed themselves. I play the same game almost every Sunday. I don’t have enough money to order pizza for all of you, thus we will be ending in or around 12:00 in order for you to go home and feed yourself. The disciples point out a major need and what is Jesus’ reaction?
“They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” HAHA isn’t Jesus funny. He has to have a sense of humor. Doesn’t Jesus know the predicament they are in? He sees the thousands of people around them and he knows they are hungry. The disciples answer exactly like we do. “Jesus, all we have is five loaves of bread and two fish. This is only enough for us each of us to have one fish sandwich for dinner. We aren’t hoarding our food, it just isn’t much. It is nothing really.”
We do the same thing. You all can see the graph on the wall near the kitchen. You all know the economic state we live in. It is hard to put gas in the tank, food on the table and a roof over your head. On top of that the church is asking for money in order for them to do the same. Look Jesus, all we have is five loaves of bread and two fish. We live in Thomasville; unemployment is up because all the factory jobs are in China. That means unless you own your own business you usually have to travel outside of town to have a decent paying job. If you do run your own business you understand that your customers are hurting which means you aren’t doing too well either. Look Jesus, all we have is five loaves of bread and two fish, we don’t have much. It is nothing really.
Jesus tells the disciples to bring him the five loaves and two fish. Then he tells the people to sit down. He takes the food, looks up to heaven, gives thanks and then breaks the bread. He then hands it to the disciples who take it out to the people. When all 10,000 or so have been fed and are satisfied, the return and collect 12 baskets of leftovers. The disciples had come to him telling him that people were hungry and Jesus tells them, “You feed them!” They offer him everything they had, had faith, and went and fed the people. Jesus created something out of the nothing.
That is one thing that the theory of evolution or the Big Bang theory can never answer. Where did the something come from? In both theories particles turned into something or exploded to create something else. But where did those particles come from? Only our God can turn nothing into something. Jesus asks the disciples to bring him their nothing and a miracle happened, people where fed, the blessings overflowed. Something happened out of nothing.
If we, Trinity UMC, have the right attitude, if we are obedient, bold and believe, Jesus is offering that option up to us today as well. Sure, we are in a tight spot financially. We may have limited volunteers. We may have unforgiving space to hold people. We may only have five loaves of bread and two fish, but Jesus is telling us, Trinity, bring me your nothing. Nothing was brought forward this week. Four months ago we had lack of funds, lack of help, and Amy and Crystal were a little worried about how they were going to pull off their first VBS. Nothing was offered and blessings were leftover. 75 children attended in one way or another this past week, 44 not from our church. 31 of our own kids brought friends, learned about God, and experienced the joy of learning, playing and Christian fellowship. Something happened out of our nothing.
What else can we offer up to God? In this parable, Jesus didn’t take the bread to the people, the disciples did. Jesus simply used what they had, their nothing. Christ is looking around this church today and knows what you can offer. Jesus looks at we think is nothing and is simply waiting for us to offer it up to be used. Let’s give God our five loaves and two fish and see what he can do with it. I have a feeling something special can come out of what we feel is nothing.
And all God’s people said…Amen.