Mark 8a: What’s the best sermon you’ve ever heard?

The first half of this chapter contains the second “feeding miracle.” The feeding miracles have occasioned some of the best sermons I have ever heard, so I thought I’d pose the question up in the headline to keep us busy over the weekend.

The first terrific feeding miracle sermon I heard was given by a young priest who had worked at the same summer camp where I’d been a counselor. He spoke of the surprising reality that when you broke your self up and passed your self around, there was somehow more of you when you pulled yourself back together again. It was an exhortation to a life of generous service, although delivered in a laid back unexhortative kind of way.

The second terrific sermon on this passage was not one I heard, but one I heard about. It related what I am told was a popular interpretation of the feeding miracle in African-American pulpits, although one I hadn’t previously heard. The preacher said that what happened when it became clear that Jesus and his disciples were willing to give away the only food they had for the sake of the crowd, everybody else felt moved to give as well. So, as the food came around, instead of taking something out of the basket, people put some of what they had been saving for themselves in.

To see the theme of this passage rendered with great cinematic power, just slip It’s a Wonderful Life into the DVD player. The last scene, in which George Bailey’s friends arrive with their small contributions to deliver him from ruin, is my favorite few minutes in the history of film.

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