Monday, August 8, 2011

The sermon I actually gave...

You may remember that last week I posted the sermon I wrote on Jacob wrestling that I had every intention of giving, had the church where I was preaching actually used the Genesis reading. Instead, and to my shock, I found myself presented with Isaiah 55 ("Ho, everyone who thirsts,come to the waters;") and the feeding of the 5,000--lovely readings both, but I had no intention of preaching on them. In fact, I had clearly chosen not to preach on the gospel because I felt I had absolutely nothing more to say about the feeding of the 5,000. But then I found I did. Here's what I ended up preaching as best I can recall:

I had a really good sermon for today. Unfortunately, it was on a reading that you didn't hear so I'm going to give a sermon that I made up in 5 minutes in the sacristy before the service instead. It will be very short [at the 10:00, someone clapped, which I made sure to point out].

One of my tasks as the managing director of Confirm not Conform is to post things regularly on their Facebook page and Twitter feed. A couple of weeks ago, I found a quote from Annie Lamott that really struck me. If you know Anne Lamott, you know she is a writer who has written extensively about her life, and especially her life of faith. This particular quote came from the commencement address she gave at UC Berkeley in 2003. In it, she details how she came to be successful at her chosen profession, only to find that it didn't provide her the satisfaction she had expected.

She put it in this remarkable way that has stuck with me ever since:

Fake doesn't feed anything.

Isaiah says that too when he says,

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Fake doesn't feed anything. In fact, I realized when I thought about it, fake requires energy. So many of us put up a persona of the person we think we ought to be: competent and cool, spiritual, or savvy. And the thing about that is, to keep up the persona requires energy. It doesn't feed anything; instead, it requires feeding.*

In the gospel today, Jesus tells his apostles to feed the multitudes. "All we've got is 5 loaves and two fish," they tell Jesus. But it is no coincidence that using the little food that they have turned out to give them 12 baskets left over--one to feed each of the apostles.

Fake doesn't feed anything.

That's all I got. I hope that feeds you. Amen.

*it is probably around this point that I started crying--quite a horrible feeling; however, given that the whole point of this message was that "keeping up a persona of competence requires energy," the very emotion itself proved the point. I hate it when God does that.

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