God’s Love For All

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July 29, 2018. The focus of Pastor Tom Schoenherr’s sermon today comes from Psalm 145: God’s love for all. Sometimes in our society we want to withhold God’s grace and mercy for only certain people. But God keeps reminding us that it’s for everyone.


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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


I need to confess that the reading of the psalm was my idea, in order that we might be able to see that in those short amount of verses, there are 14 mentions of “all.” Fourteen times I think — you want to count them to make sure? Fourteen times that “all” is used in that psalm. And it just spoke to me as an evidence of God’s multitude of his giving of his abundance. [Holding a paper] I know you can’t see this. This is the Pickles cartoon for this weekend. They’re both sitting on easy chairs in the living room. Earl is reading the paper. You know, the Pickles cartoon? It’s an older couple. There, okay. And then you hear the phone ring. It looks like it’s in his pocket. This is kind of a negative example. And he’s still reading the paper, and the recording is going on in his pocket. It says, “Hi, this is Earl. I can’t answer the phone right now, even though it’s in my shirt pocket. At the tone, you can leave a message if you’d like. But who are we kidding? We both know you’d probably have better luck putting it in a bottle and tossing it in the ocean. Have a nice day.” And then she looks at him and says, “You know you’re despicable, don’t you?”


As I said, a kind of negative example of what this psalm and this gospel lesson for today are about. Some of you may use a portion of the psalm as your meal prayer. “The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” What a wonderful prayer. And it is God’s love for all that is the focus of that psalm, and is the focus of Jesus’ feeding. It is that gift of God’s grace and mercy that we so desperately need in our lives and in our world that we receive from God in this special way.


Our world, including you and me, at times is very anxious. We live in an anxious time. People are kind of upset a lot, and into this world, into this anxiety, God gives a message that he has come to bring grace and mercy to all. And we want to withhold it for only certain ones. Or our society and our world do. But God keeps saying no, it’s for all. It’s for everyone. The words from the psalm are, “The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.”


Dr. Rachel Remen tells a story about a time when she was on an airplane and she was sitting at the bulkhead. She was on the aisle seat, there was an empty seat, and then there was an older man who was sitting next to the window. And he was just looking out the window. She sat down and she put her purse in that empty seat, and then she opened a book. She was going to read as much as she could on this flight. And then the flight attendants came along and they were giving out a snack to people (this is a long time ago) of a bagel and a pint of yogurt. Well, she went back to reading her book, and then she heard her seat mate gasp. She looked down, and he had spilled all of that yogurt on to the carpeting of the floor, onto his shoe, and onto a small carry-on bag that was under the seat. She waited, thinking that he was going to do something to try to clean it up, but nothing happened.


And so she looked and she noticed that he had a brace that was on his left leg. She thought, his left leg is paralyzed. She turned on her light for the flight attendants to come and help, but they were quite busy with the rest of the plane and plane passengers. And so when the flight attendant came, she was really quite upset with Rachel for asking her to do this little favor. But Rachel Remen said, “All I really need is if you would give me a wet towel, and I’ll take care of it myself.” Soon the wet towel came, and Rachel had it and he talked to her and said, “You know, eight months ago I had a stroke. And I don’t have any feeling from my fingertips to my elbows in either arm. And of course, my left leg is paralyzed.” And she said, “You know, I wear an ileostomy bag. And I have bad eyesight, and flying is not the easiest thing for me to do.” And so he looked and he saw that she had this wet towel. His right leg was tucked underneath the seat, and he brought it out and she said to him, “May I?” And she proceeded to wipe off his shoes and the floor and the carry-on bag. And then he bent down toward her and he said, “You know, I used to play the violin.”


This man was suffering. Bowed down. Broken. A person who was in need at that particular time. And she was there to do the simple thing of wiping up the mess, and cleaning up what needed to be done.


We are all suffering. It is suffering that describes us as human beings. It connects us to one another. None of us goes through life without having some suffering or brokenness of some kind in our lives. If we separate ourselves from one another, and separate ourselves from God and God’s ways, we may feel very much alone and in the darkness. It’s a very difficult thing.


Many believe we are living in a zero-sum game. That when somebody else gets something good, then we don’t and we lose something of our own. That’s not the way God works. That is not God’s way among us. For God’s gift is for all, and everything is given. He gives everything he has for all.


When Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, the disciples would have heard that story as they heard Jesus speaking. And given the division between Jews and Samaritans, they probably would have expected that Jesus would have said that the Samaritan went through the man’s pants pockets and took out his billfold and took out his credit cards and took out his money and his keys and walked away. But that isn’t what happened. The Samaritan had pity on this man, put him on his own donkey, and took him to an inn where they were both welcomed.


Isn’t that God’s way, even with those that we don’t feel very comfortable with? Jesus calls us to give all. God says give it all away. And yet we know that there are lots of people, or at least some, who would go through the pants pockets and take out the billfold and take out the credit cards and the cash and the keys and walk away. We know that that’s true.


So what do we do? How do we live? Do we want to live in that suspicion of everybody who is anybody apart from me? And those who are immediately around me are always going to be suspected of doing those kinds of things? God says that’s not a good way to live. And God continues to give and give and give for all, without suspicion of what the person’s motives might be or what they might do.


There’s an ancient form of Japanese art called Kintsugi. What it does is to take valuable possessions that are cracked and broken, and mend them with gold leaf. So that you see the big crack in the bowl that you normally might throw away in the garbage. But it’s valued and honored by the way in which it is repaired. And so you see all of that gold where those cracks and broken parts were, and it’s all put back together.


I wonder if that’s what God’s way is with us. We are cracked and broken people, whom he invites to the table again this morning. We come with all our cracks, all our our foibles, all of our fallenness, all of our brokenness, all of our bowed-down-ness. We bring it all to Jesus. And he takes it and he returns to us our lives — where it was cracked and broken, filled with the gold leaf of God’s abiding love In Jesus Christ. And that gift of forgiveness and healing is ours to share.


There were twelve baskets left over. Were all of those thrown away, all of that food? We live in a society that wastes so much food. No, it was taken and given to others who might need it, so that all might be satisfied, all might know that abundant love of God that has come for all.


The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord. You give us our food in due season. You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing. No longer do we need to live with clenched fists, only thinking about ourselves and those around us that we know. But our hands are open, that we might share the abundance of God’s grace and mercy and love with all of God’s people, as God has so abundantly shared them with you and me.


In Jesus’ name, amen.


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2018, Christ Lutheran Church, Webster Groves, sermon, podcast, transcript, Paster Tom Schoenherr, Psalm 145:16-17