I was down at the lake yesterday. You might have heard my story about the Blue Heron that decided to try and steal the bass I caught a few weeks ago. Yesterday he was back (the thievin', trashy thing!). He saw me fishing and expected to get something to eat ... to be fed.
One time when Jesus was teaching up around another lake (the Sea of Galilee) he got some bad news (Matthew 14). John the Baptist had just been beheaded by Herod and Jesus withdrew in a boat to be by himself. But the crowds followed Him. Jesus had compassion for them and cured them but it got late in the day. The disciples were worried about who would feed this many people (there were 5,000 men, not to mention women and children). In one of His miracles Jesus fed the people with a little bread and a few fish after healing their sick.
Here is what I was thinking yesterday. How many of us are like that heron, coming down to expect a meal? We go to church expecting to be fed and we even expect how that feeding will take place. When the food is different than we expect, when the feeding fails to meet our expectations, I wonder ... do we fly away like that heron, looking for food somewhere else? The heron is just a dumb bird, but I wonder ... as God's people and God's church, are we so caught up in how we are fed, the kind of music we hear, the style of worship, the expectation of what we want, that we sometimes fail to graciously receive the meal God desires to give us?
I don't know what the crowds of Matthew expected, but in the Gospel accounts the crowds are not presented positively ... because they always seemed to want what they expected. When that "want" was not met (the teaching got hard) John's Gospel says, many fell away from following. In Africa thousands of people will stand for hours in the hot sun to hear God's Word preached. Maybe we can learn something from them.
God desires to give us what we need ... not what we want. This week many churches in the Alabama West Florida conference of the United Methodist Church will receive new preachers. I won't chime in on my thoughts about our process except to say this. Maybe people in our churches should ask God to send them the pastor they need ... not the one they want. May we all go faithfully to our church of choice Sunday (or whatever day we worship) and listen for God to give us exactly what we need in the sermon and the music. We should be thankful for a God who sees and meets our needs, even when we fail to know them ourselves. Randy