Year C Proper 27 WEDNESDAY, 13 November 2019
St. James the Less Ashland, VA
“Eating Elephants and Other Impossibilities”
Collect: O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain, where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?’ Jesus asked them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ They said, ‘Seven, and a few small fish.’ Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children. After sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.
"Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel." Jesus did the impossible.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It is an old joke, and could not be more true.
Anything worth doing takes commitment, time, effort, and love. Mostly love. When Jesus looked out at the crowd he had compassion. Jesus loved them. It is the only way we can accomplish anything as the body of Christ. In fact, most often when people are burnt out and tired I find that they have lost the love that drew them to whatever it is in the first place. When you set about to eating an elephant, you really have to like elephant.
Tonight we formalize our relationship, permanently, blessed by the Bishop. It is a good thing that I love you all. It is a good thing that you love me. As our Presiding Bishop says, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God.” Churchill can have all his blood, sweat, and tears, but underneath it all I trust he loved the UK to make all the other worth it.
As you may have heard me say before, I am pretty enamored with St. Francis. His radical devotion to Christ has always struck me, and if there is a way forward in the times we find ourselves in, I think it has to be just that. Radical, all-consuming, all-engaging, heart-swooning, never-ceasing love. With that as the undercurrent, let us listen to the words of Francis for when we are faced with insurmountable tasks.
“Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” -St. Francis of Assisi
When Jesus fed the thousands, I have to remember that. He loved them. He saw the necessities of those he loved. He took inventory, doing what he could, even if it was only 7 loaves and three fish. With love, with God, that was enough and all were filled.
He fed 4,000 that day. We are lucky, only three and a half thousand people are supposedly heading this way in a week and a half. And even then, ESPECIALLY THEN, We Do It In Love. Love for God, Love for this Church, Love for all those who will Bless US with Their Presence. We do what is necessary, then do what is possible, and St. James the Less is then doing the Impossible. Amen
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