“Hungry God”: A Sermon From Pastor Bob

But, I want to suggest to you that not only are we as humans, as God’s creatures hungry for God, but that God is hungry for us. And, I would like to suggest an image for God that you perhaps have never thought of. What if there is a hole in God?

HUNGRY GOD

A sermon by Pastor Bob

October 23, 2011

Text: Mt. 14:13-21

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

–The feeding of the 5000 is a great story that is found not only in the gospel of Matthew, but in Mark, Luke and John as well.

–It is a story that is miraculous and terribly satisfying.

–As it says in our text, the crowds all ate and they were filled, or perhaps a better translation, they were “satisfied.”

–So satisfied that 12 full baskets were left over.

–But this morning, this story reminds us not only of God’s generosity and bounty, but perhaps most importantly, God’s hunger.

–Have you ever been hungry for something that nothing else could satisfy?

–Maybe you were on a camping trip for a number of days and towards the end, you would give anything for some French Fries instead of your freeze-dried food.

–Or maybe you have traveled in another country and you could not get the food you are used to eating and you would give anything for a fresh salad or grilled steak.

–Hunger can come not only from an empty stomach, but from an aching heart.

–Have you ever hungered for the presence of someone?

–Someone that makes you physically ache until you can be with them.

–This is a strange paradox of love.

–It is painful and joyful at the same time.

–For in falling in love, we begin to recognize what is lacking in our own lives.

–A lacking that we could not, nor would we want to see.

–For it is only in the filling of that hunger, that we see the hunger in the first place.

–This is something like what it means to be hungry for God.

–It is to recognize the hunger that is deep within us.

–A hunger that persists as we try to fill it with other things.

–It is as if God made us with a hole inside of us that only God can fill.

–And it is in the filling of that hole, that we suddenly can look as our selves as complete, as whole, w-h-o-l-e.

–Sometimes, we catch glimpse of that hole, h-o-l-e.

–Sometimes we see it when something positive happens to us, like when we suddenly grasp the infinite majesty of creation.

–A sunset of unimaginable colors.

–A flower so perfect, we must touch it to see if it’s real.

–The birth of a child as it takes its first breath.

–But, most often, we clearly see the hole when we lose the things that we have been subconsciously trying to cover that hole.

–Either the loss of work, or things, or most especially the loss of relationship and the loss of a loved one.

–When we come upon this hole in us, it can be unnerving because it clearly shows how fragile we truly are.

–It is a vulnerability we are not prepared to meet directly.

–Yet this hole, this hunger, this something that beckons to be filled and satisfied.

–And ultimately…this is also opportunity.

–For there is one who can fill this hole.

–There is one who can satisfy our hunger.

–That person is the one who created us in the first place.

–Our Lord. Our God.

–Now of course, you knew that.

–Like every children’s sermon, the answer is always either Jesus, God, or some combination with the Holy Spirit.

–But, I want to suggest to you that not only are we as humans, as God’s creatures hungry for God, but that God is hungry for us.

–And, I would like to suggest an image for God that you perhaps have never thought of.

–What if there is a hole in God?

–Now, I don’t mean a physical whole or even a lacking that we experience in our own hunger, but something else.

–Jewish scholars many centuries ago struggled to understand how God could create the universe, and one group suggested that God created a space within God’s self.

–A space that was not God.

–A space in which God could freely create our universe.

–And the universe could freely experience God.

–These Jews called this “zimsum”

–The zimsum, the hole in God, is therefore not a negative thing, for it allows God to be God and for the world to exist in freedom.

–And most importantly, it allows God to truly love us.

–Now if we put this idea together with the reality that there is a hole in us, we may comprehend a most astonishing thing:

–Just as the hole in us is filled by the love of God.

–So the hole in God is filled by our love for God.

–I suspect that God aches for us and for our love in a similar way as we ache for God.

–Why else would God persist in loving us at all costs?

–Why else would God become in incarnate in Jesus Christ and experience the brokenness of this world?

–Why else would God give everything, even the death of Jesus on the cross?

 

–God is hungry for you and for me.

–This Christianity business is not just us deciding if we want to join a church or not, it is being caught up in God’s hunger, God’s love for us.

–A hunger that is relentless in its desire to know us and to be known.

–You need to know that God is not ever going to stop loving you.

–Not in your life and not in your death.

–The hole in us and the hole in God are inseparable, and this leads us to the conclusion that perhaps the hole that we try desperately to ignore or to cover up is in the end is what makes us fully human.

 

–The crowds that surrounded Jesus that day were not only filled by bread and fishes, but by Jesus’ word and most importantly, by Jesus himself.

–The crowds came out of hunger for the one who would fill that hole that they sensed in their lives.

–And Jesus, in compassion, love and his own hunger for them said to his disciples.

–“Do not send them away but let them eat.”

–For with God, there is plenty enough for everyone to be satisfied, and even to be left over.

–This morning in a short while you will be invited to Holy Communion.

–A meal in which God feeds us not only bread and wine or grape juice, but God’s very presence.

–God is hungry for you.

–Come and be filled by God’s hunger for you.

–By God’s love and peace and joy and faith.

–And be filled and satisfy the hole in you.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

    I have enjoyed every single one of Pastor Bob’s sermons. They are extremely well written, thought provoking, and demonstrate love and respect towards the audience, while getting us to consider all that there is about God from a possibly new perspective. I can only imagine if the church was inundated with such style pastors.

  • vj

    Reminds me of ‘Mr God, This Is Anna’, in which Anna asserts that everything she loves is ‘in my middle’, but that in order to know God we have to be in His ‘middle’…

  • http://www.poesies.com Gina Cirelli

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Last night, like many other nights, I was acutely aware of this hole within myself. And this sermon certainly made me feel better.

  • LSS

    now every time i see someone write G_d i am going to remember the zimsum in the middle there where the underline is.

  • http://transparently.ca Lisa

    I know this sermon had nothing to do with the parable of the prodigal son, but I could not help but think of the mental picture of the Father running to his son when he saw him approaching in the distance. The father had a hole that could only be filled by this lost son. It’s not difficult, therefore, to imagine God has a hole that can only be filled by us….how amazing and how beautiful a picture.

  • Donald Rappe

    Thank you for your sermon Pastor Bob. I have lost the ability to drive for a few months and my wakeful hours are very irregular, so this part of church is available to me here. I appreciate it. I hope you will continue with it.

  • http://theaspirationalagnostic.wordpress.com Eva

    I’ve often considered my hunger for God, but never God’s hunger for me. Now I’m thinking off all the ways that this may have manifested itself without my realising it….

  • http://flamidwyfe.wordpress.com Sandi

    I so enjoy reading your sermons. I’m living in China and finding a home church has proven difficult. As an evangelical Christian, I often found myself not “meshing” with the ideas of a lot of people I went to church with, but loving them all the same.

    It is nice to have an online “church” family who’s beliefs are well aligned with mine.

    God Bless You.

  • relevantpreach

    John, thank you for sharing this sermon. It is one of the best ones I have read in quite a while. i was impressed with the mention of zimsum. I mentioned that concept a few months ago, and prior to that not heard hardly any pastors ever mention that ancient thought. I know that I give you grief sometimes, but wanted to also give you encouragement. Thanks for sharing this.

  • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

    A wonderful message indeed. There is so much to preach from in this story. I have probably heard a dozen or more messages from these passages, with no two the same and all pulling out practical spiritual truth, good stuff!!


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