Sermon for Trinity 18
Sunday 3 October 2010
Hungry Bellies have no Ears (John 6. 25-35)
My sermon today could be summed up in the words the former American President, Woodrow Wilson, “no one can worship God or love his neighbour on an empty stomach” or perhaps in the words of an old English proverb, “hungry bellies have no ears”. If you were all starving hungry, if you hadn’t eaten for days, would you be able to concentrate on my sermon? No. If your children were in danger of starving to death, would you be able to concentrate on my sermon? No. If you had no home because yours had been destroyed in a flood or a landslide would you be able to concentrate on my sermon? No. Although people can sometimes turn to religion in a time of crisis, they need to have at least the bare necessities of life before they can seriously engage with the preaching of the good news of Jesus Christ. Those who are desperately hungry are focussed above all on their need for food. So then, was Jesus a bit harsh when he seemed to criticise his disciples for following him just because they had their “fill of the loaves”? I don’t think so. After all he had seen their need of food in the first place and had provided it for them in the feeding of the five thousand. He realised that he couldn’t get his message across to people who were thinking about their empty stomachs. The noise of rumbling tummies would have drowned out his wise words. This is the reason why many Christian leaders in the third world are not only interested in bringing people spiritual well-being, but also physical well-being. They know that if they are going to care for people’s souls they have to care for people’s bodies as well. It is why we here today will auction some of our harvest produce for Christian Aid and give the remainder to people in need locally. Unless we feed the hungry and support the poor how can we expect them to hear and respond to the gospel? So please be generous today and every day as we pray that not only we, but that hungry people throughout the world may receive their daily bread.
Trinity 18 | Sunday 3 October 2010