On this last Saturday of June 2018, as the sun beat down on an hotter than normal day our neighbors who are lined up in our parking lot to receive from our church sponsored food pantry. Every month, we fill their trunks with a variety of groceries -- fresh produce and nonperishable food items. Over 2,000 individuals will be fed this year!
Feeding our community is a central mission of our church because it was a central part of Jesus ministry. Scripture records time and time again where Jesus provides food. There is a good reason why Jesus feeds folks, and it is not just because they are hungry. (Though, that is reason enough!)
Jesus is living out what the Kingdom of God is supposed to look like and he does it in contrast to the Kingdom of Rome.
In the first century, the Roman Empire demonstrated the beneficence of the emperor by distributing grain to the people.(1) Under oppressive rule that kept down the poor and marginalized, the empire had to toss some crumbs to the people to prevent them from rioting. Another tactic used to keep the population under control was to offer them free entertainment. Emperor Caligula’s greatest spectacle involved floating connected ships across a three-and-a-half-mile span of the Bay of Naples and riding his chariot across the water. Quite a site for a first century person. Juvenal satirized the emperor’s means of influencing the populace by writing that he offered them panem et circenses, bread and entertainment.(2)
Not to be outdone by the outlandish ways of our world, Jesus feeds 5,000 with only five loaves of bread and two fish then sashays across the Sea of Galilee without the aid of a span of boats (John 6). In doing so, Jesus was resisting the way of this world and declaring himself as the bread of life and offering entertainment that is life giving. For Jesus, feeding the poor and offering spectacle was not a way of controlling people, but a way of freeing them to live an abundant life.
But how exactly does offering a meal and providing entertainment bring us a permanent peace and an abundant life? How is it that, what the empire offers is fleeting but what Jesus offers is life changing? Over the next couple of Sundays, we will be looking at the sixth chapter of John and explore these concepts together.
Sunday, July 29th we begin with the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 as some of our Youth help lead the worship service. Then on Sunday, August 5th our worship moves to the fellowship hall where we will worship around the lunch table and celebrate communion together. On Sunday, August 12th we continue exploring what it means for Jesus to be the bread of life and conclude on August 19th with our Rally Day, officially welcoming back the choir and kicking off another year of Sunday School and activities for our youth.
Invite your friends and family to come worship with us! These unique worship experiences are a wonderful opportunity to introduce our church to those for whom you care.
The sermon series is a good reminder that we need to practice what we preach. Now, I invite you to come experience God’s love and abundance first hand. Help us feed our neighbors during our monthly food pantry. Mark your calendars for August 25, September 29, October 27, November 17, and December 15. On these Saturdays we gather at 8:30 AM to unload the food truck and pack up the food into bags. We serve our neighbors from 9:00 AM to 11:00 (or until the food runs out).
We are not just providing food but hope and love, which is the bread of life.
1. Cicero, Sest. 103.
2. Juvenal Sat. 10.81