Dedicating his new anthem to those who lost their lives to Covid-19, Tom Shelton, director of Princeton UMC’s Youth Choirs, took all the precautions against the disease. Recording outdoors at Veteran’s Park in Lawrenceville, the singers wore special “singers masks,” and Delaney McCarty’s flute had its own mask. Bill Gardner managed the recording.
On All Saints Sunday, November 3, 2019, Pastor Jennifer Smith-Walz preached a sermon titled “I Like Giving: Ripples.” The Scripture for the week is John 6:1-14.
As she continued her focus on acts of generosity,she looked at the story of Christ feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes. There was this boy ready to share a little, and in the hands of Jesus, his act of generosity produced ripples that continue to this day.
Do you ever wonder about this boy with the five loaves and two fishes? Did he have grandparents who taught him generosity? Or was it his idea? How did he get that food in the first place? Did he catch the fish himself? Or was it packed for him lovingly to go on this journey? What did he imagine would happen as he handed his food to Jesus? What did he think when 12 baskets were collected? What difference did his act of generosity make? His life most certainly was changed that day. The miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand changed these people’s lives on that day. They all ate and were satisfied but most importantly, they must have told the story to many others who also recounted it to still others and impacted their lives as well. Might our presence here right now in these pews be a ripple effect of this little boy’s offering 2000 years ago?
That day reminds us of repeated scenes in our lives too. Look around and see the enormous need in the world. Hungry people. Unending gun violence. Countless people without homes. Refugees. Far too many children in orphanages and foster care. So many homes destroyed by fires, hurricanes, earthquakes.Desperate people have given to despair. What are we going to do about them? When we lift our need to God, God is asking, “what do you have?” We reply, “not enough.” The end of our human understanding, knowledge, resources, is the beginning of love’s understanding and knowledge. Love’s knowledge multiplies our seemingly meager resources and makes a way where there doesn’t seem to be a way. Love’s understanding is enough to feed all the people and with leftovers. When placed in the hands of Jesus – hands full of love’s knowledge – our gifts, as limited as they might be (even generous giving can feel like a drop in the bucket) become abundance, more than enough.
God calls us to is not just generosity, but generosity as Ministry, as an act of love. Ministry is about multiplying resources in the hands of love, Jesus’ hands, so that what might’ve been just a social hand-out becomes a revelation of God’s amazing Grace, leaving behind transformation, healing, restoration, life, justice. God’s love changes people and societies.
As we come to the Table today on All Saints Day, let us bring, with thanksgiving, the memories of the saints who taught us not only generosity but how God multiplies resources? Let us remember that at the end of our understanding, love’s knowledge takes over.
The sermon is a podcast on this webpage under the category worship. Here is the link
For the complete video of the November 3 service, found on Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page, click here