Posts Tagged ‘Meeting Needs’

What I Need or What I Want 7-19-15

In this sermon I explore Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 as Jesus meets the needs of various individuals. Within the sermon I explore how our wants don’t always match up to our needs.

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/what-i-need-or-what-i-want-7-19-15

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Last weekend, Emily and I, along with my older brother and sister and their respective spouses engaged in a tradition going back a few years that we have joking named “Wino weekend.” We travel around an area, making four or five stops at various wineries where we sample their wares…and purchase a bottle or two before packing up and heading off to the next one.

We’ve done this in a few different general locations, and this time around we hit 4 of our local wineries here in the SW portion of the state. 1 was amazing…2 were pretty great…and the final one…which will remain nameless…well from the moment we drove into the parking lot…it was a little lacking.

It didn’t get much better as we went inside to sample what they had…but the most memorable part of that single location was when my brother asked for one variety…only to have the gentleman behind the counter reply with “Umm…I’m gonna go ahead and recommend that you…not…try that one.” We were all a little dumbfounded…but once the guy explained his reasoning…we understood. (pause)
Has that sort of thing ever happened to you before? As I think about it…I think I’ve bumped into this sort of thing the most when I’m in a restaurant of some sort…and the server takes it upon themselves to make a suggestion…they make a recommendation based on their opinion.

Now this same sort of thing actually just happened to me on Friday at lunch time…I was sitting in my office, as I usually do, working on the sermon…and it got to be lunchtime…and so being too lazy to walk across the parking lot and attempt to scrounge up something to eat…I hopped in my car and buzzed out to Subway…and once I made my request, I got the normal question of “So would you like that toasted?” And as I almost always do…I responded by saying no, I didn’t want it toasted…and then the girl behind the counter just sorta gave me this look…and then she responded “Well sir…when you get flatbread…we ALWAYS recommend that you get it toasted.” (pause) My response…well, okay…go ahead…which she did…and then she finished my sandwich, I paid for it and walked out the door to the car. And as I was driving back into town the thought went through my head “Now that was pretty smug…how does she know the proper way that I like my sandwich? What makes her think she knows best what I want, or what I need? (pause)

Ever fall into that trap? Ever found yourself questioning the motives of another person, who may or may not really be looking out for your best interests when they make a suggestion…when they make a recommendation…or when they simply seek to do what they consider to be the best way of serving you? (pause)
There’s a similar situation going on in today’s gospel lesson…as Jesus takes on the role of this proverbial waiter…making recommendations for what people should or should not being trying. (pause)
To set the scene…our lesson today opens up with the disciples returning to the complete group along with Jesus following the unknown period of time that they engaged in the two by two mission…which you may recall was featured in our text from a couple weeks back…They’ve been out actively doing the ministry…proclaiming the gospel…performing miraculous healings and exorcisms…all in the name of Jesus.

And because of this work…this ministry that’s been going on for a while now, both through the disciples as well as with Jesus specifically…word is getting around…again, we’ve been seeing evidence of this throughout our various gospel lessons for quite a while now…and because of the incredible popularity of what Jesus and the disciples have been up to…the crowds are flocking. It would seem that Jesus has the makings of a pretty good mega-church at this point…and here today, we see that this trend continues…because as the disciples come back together into the complete group…the crowds are pressing in on them…hounding them…constantly coming and going keeping them so busy that they don’t even have time to eat.

And Jesus recognizes the toll that this seems to be taking on the disciples…and so he makes a recommendation…Come away to a deserted place…all by yourselves…so that YOU may rest for a while.” And the disciples must like this idea as they all hop in a boat and strike out across the sea…and yet, the crowds see them heading off…and apparently they must have listed their travel plans because the crowds seem to know exactly where to find them…and promptly beat them there.

And so we see as the boat lands and everyone hops out…there are great crowds…yet again…so much for the disciples vacation time right? (pause) But as Jesus looks out upon these crowds, we hear his compassion for them…for he recognizes that they are like sheep with a shepherd…milling around…lacking direction…seemingly with no idea what to do with themselves. (pause) And once again…seeing a need…Jesus meets it…but what does he do? (pause) He taught them…Jesus seemingly sits down for a theological lecture…maybe its Sunday and he’s leading and adult forum…who knows…but the need that Jesus meets this time around…is the need for learning…and we don’t know exactly what he’s teaching them…Mark doesn’t give us that detail but given his track record…he’s likely teaching them about the kingdom of God. (pause)

Now at this point in the story…we jump ahead…we fast forward about 20 verses…which I can understand from a “length of the gospel lesson” standpoint…but by doing so…we also miss out on a couple of really important stories…and we miss a couple more opportunities for Jesus to meet the needs of the people.

The first of these two stories is the feeding of the 5000…a well known story that involves this very crowd that Jesus is teaching…for after a full day of teaching…its late and the people are hungry…and Jesus…miraculously takes care of this physical need…and then…after this amazing thing has happened…Jesus puts the disciples in the boat once more and sends them out, while he stays behind…And as the disciples are crossing the water…another storm comes up…and Jesus, seeing that they need some help…doesn’t let this little thing like water stop him, and he walks out to them…and calms the winds so that they are able to safely cross the water.
2 important stories…2 more times when Jesus recognizes the true needs of the people and meets it. (pause) And then from there we move into the last half of today’s lesson…as yet again…the crowds gather where Jesus is…and not just once…but we hear that where ever he goes, the people rush around the countryside…finding those that are sick and in need of healing…and they carry them to wherever Jesus is supposed to be…all of them having heard the story that Jesus can heal you if you only touch the edge of his cloak…and it happens over and over again.

But as I was thinking about this smattering of stories…and the crowds that always seem to flock around Jesus…I’ve found myself questioning their motives…Why are they there? Why do they flock to him? (pause) Just what do they hope to get out it? What benefit?

Are they there because of what he is teaching? Perhaps…we tend to hear mixed responses to his teaching though…sometimes people appreciate it…other times it is difficult and drives them away. Are others there for a blessing…or for a healing? Do they desire to be in the presence of God…or are they just there to beat a disease and then they’ll go on their merry way? (pause)
I’m not sure just why I found myself asking those questions this week…because it really seems like Jesus genuinely cares about the people…all the people regardless of who they are or what their story is…but admittedly…in situations like this I’m often cynical…questioning the motives of people…and wondering if they really know what it is that they are looking for…wondering if they really know what they truly need. (pause)
Perhaps this is telling of the state that we find the world in these days…and the place that all too often God get’s demoted to…Ok God…things are pretty good at the moment so you just sit up there on the shelf until I need something…and we go our own way…until something goes wrong and we need some magical Jesus powers to solve it for us. (pause) Ever been guilty of that? Ever found your prayer life to be centered around that which we think is the right answer…what we think, is what we need?

And I wonder…how often are we really right about that? How often do we actually know what we need? And I wonder, how often do we place things in the hands of the Lord to provide that which we actually need, even if its not what we want.
Because truly, there are times when the answer that God provides doesn’t feel like the best answer. Sometimes we ask God for healing for an individual…and the outcome is death…Sometimes we ask God for help with our finances only to open up the mail and find yet another unexpected bill…sometimes we ask for a healing of a breach in a relationship only to have it end.

And in those times, perhaps we are asking the question of whether or not God really has our best interests in mind…and we wonder if God has made these things happen…or if not, why God will just sit back and let this broken reality continue to smack us in the face. (pause)

That’s a hard place to be…it’s a hard place to find ourselves in and typically when we’re there the last thing that we want to hear or admit to ourselves is that these hardships and strange turn of events might just be the best thing for us in the long run. (pause)
But now as I say that, please don’t think that I’m trying to say that suffering is good…and that God makes it happen for a reason…because that’s not what I’m saying…all I am saying is that this is a part of our broken reality…this is part of our flawed world…and I think the first being to mourn this broken reality is God…who walks alongside us through these times whether we recognize his presence or not. (pause)
And so as I’ve thought about all these things through the week I began to ask the question…just what do we need from God? Not what we want or would like to have happen…but what do we need?

I think this is a question that we should also stop and ask ourselves…what do I need from God…that maybe…just maybe God is already providing and I’m taking it for granted. (pause)

Take a big deep breath…everyone, do it now…feels good doesn’t it? Who do you think designed your body to be able to do that? (pause)
Take a look around at one another…whether you realize it or not, you are in relationship in one way or another, with every single individual that you are looking at right now…and this is made possible because we were made in the image of a God that already existed in relationship. (pause)
There were two more things that occurred to me as things that I need from God…because I recognize that I cannot provide them for myself…and both of these things are a part of our worship service each and every week. The announcement that through the power and authority of Jesus Christ, ALL my sins are forgiven…and then the announcement God will bless you and keep you…even if I don’t quite get just what that’s gonna look like.

There are times when the service that is “recommended” for us seems like the very last thing that we want or need…that’s what I thought as I drove home with my freshly toasted Subway sandwich on Friday…but then I got home, and unwrapped that sandwich, and took my first bite…and DARN IT…wouldn’t you know it…it tasted pretty darn good…I guess the girl behind the counter knew what she was doing after all didn’t she?

And maybe, just maybe…God knows what he’s doing too. Amen.