On Christ We Feed and Flourish
Wednesday of Pentecost 26
21 November 2018
A couple of weeks ago while I was at the gym working out, I saw the most interesting tattoo. Across the shoulders of one weightlifter there were the words emblazoned, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." And on the outside of the quote there was an abundance of dollar bills. Apparently, this well-muscled young man was afraid that the abundance of his possessions might separate him from his Lord. It is not an illegitimate concern. It is certainly one addressed by our Lord Jesus Christ as He watches the offerings being placed into the temple treasury (Mk 12:41-44). He comments on one widow.

The widow in the temple, though the poorest of the poor, was richer than all people in Israel. She put in the treasury only two grains of the mustard seed and yet from them grew a plant large enough for the birds to nest in it. Her two coins were like leavening to the lump of dough. The yeast is but a few tiny grains and yet it causes the loaf to grow and expand and overflow the pan. Those two seemingly worthless coins become cherubim standing at either end of the ark of the covenant; a true holy of holies where God is among his people. Those two pennies become the two testaments of her faith. They sing praise to him who is thrice holy. They are a double blessing for her to give. Her God "has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty" (Lk 1:52-53). How I desire to be among those who are of humble estate and who are hungry. I want to be like her. She gives away everything. Yet she possesses everything. She has nothing; and yet has everything.

We who possess the kingdom have everything. We who possess the body of Christ in our mouths have food for eternal life. We who drink of the cup of the Lord which He gives us from his altar possess a life-giving drink. We whom the Lord feeds from the nourishing food of His Word will never hunger. In Him and in His gifts, we have everything.
In ourselves, we have nothing but spiritual starvation. Death is our lot. But he will never leave us there. Where is our next meal coming from? How is His next gift coming to us? How can we possibly sustain ourselves? We must despair of ourselves as did the widow of Zarephath (1Ki 17:8-16) and the widow in the temple. Only on Christ will we feed and flourish.

New Orleans is full of fantastic restaurants. My wife and I have very fond remembrances of eating at Brennan's in New Orleans on our fifth wedding anniversary and on a stroll down memory lane again at our 34th anniversary. The food is fantastic! New Orleanians always say that they live to eat. They do not eat to live. We Christians live on both sides of that divide. We will never live without eating what the Lord gives to us out of grace and mercy. And as we live we will live only to eat what the Lord gives us. We both eat to live and live to eat. The widow was living in confidence of what Jesus says: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh" (Jn 6:51).

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"The truly humble look not to the result of humility but with a simple heart regard things of low degree, and gladly associate with them. It never once enters their mind that they are humble. Here the water flows from the well; here it follows naturally and as a matter of course, that they will cultivate humble conduct, humble words, places, faces, and clothing, and shun as far as possible great and lofty things. Therefore, David says in Psalm 131: 'O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high' (Ps 131:1). And Job 22 says: 'When they are humbled you say, 'It is because of pride'; but [God] saves the lowly' (Job 22:29). Therefore, honors always come unexpectedly upon them, and their exaltation is a surprise to them; for they have been simply content with their lowly station and never aspired to the heights. But the falsely humble wonder why their glory and honor are so long in coming; their secret false pride is not content with their low estate but aspires in secret ever higher and higher.

"True humility, therefore, never knows that it is humble, as I have said; for if it knew this, it would turn proud from contemplation of so fine a virtue. But it clings with all its heart and mind and senses to lowly things, sets them continually before its eyes, and ponders them in its thoughts. And because it sets them before its eyes, it cannot see itself nor become aware of itself, much less of lofty things. And therefore, when honor and elevation come, they must take it unawares and find it immersed in thoughts of other things. Thus, Luke tells us (Lk 1:29) that Mary was troubled at the angel's saying and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be, since she had never expected anything like it."

Martin Luther, The Magnificat, 1.48
Luke 1:46-55

And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

"And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.

"He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever." (ESV)
O Lord, make me like the poor and dispossessed that with them I might inherit all the treasures of heaven You assure to your people. Lead us to hunger for the body of Christ in our mouths as the food for eternal life. Let us drink of the cup which you give us from his altar so that we might possess the life-giving drink. You have fed us from the nourishing food of Your Word and therefore we will never hunger. In Your gifts, we have everything. Keep giving us these things, even though we have never merited them. Amen.

For family gatherings that will occur tomorrow, that these would be cause of joy and celebration

For the abundance of the land, that our Lord God would continue to grant us these precious gifts

For Ileene Robinson, that she would be strengthened in body and soul and granted confidence in the power of Christ to heal and give life
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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