Rescue from the Love Desert

Sermon Summary for Sunday, August 5th, 2018 | Respectfully Submitted by Mal Underwood

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On the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost Mother Mary began her message by singing this chant:

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 

Cast me not away from your presence and take not your holy spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with your free Spirit."

Psalm 51:10-12

She spoke of the joy of singing this Psalm in the church of her youth, with its life-sustaining message of salvation and love. That agape love - universal, never-ending, and available to all - is the central theme of our Christian faith as taught by our Savior Christ. We are to reflect and show God’s love as His eyes, hands, and feet in the world. Jesus is quoted in the Gospel of John saying, “by this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Our eternal life begins here on earth as we share God’s love with those around us in worship and outreach.

One of the outstanding ministries of our Parish family is our food pantry. Through God’s grace and blessing, and with our faithful diligent leadership of the Outreach ministry both past and present, our work in feeding the hungry is amazing to behold. Mother Mary told us that the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines “food deserts” as areas where low income residents are a minimum of one mile from a source of fresh, wholesome food. In many cases residents cannot access these food sources and ultimately rely on expensive, less healthy alternatives. The resulting nutritional health issues create additional stress and misery on those in the food deserts. Ascension’s mobile food pantry is helping to address these issues by bringing healthy food choices to the inhabitants of the food deserts in our area. Our Outreach ministry shares God’s love in the community through the holy work of our food pantry.

In Sunday’s Gospel Jesus teaches us that there is an even more important hunger that must be addressed. Mother Mary described this circumstance as a “love desert” as opposed to a food desert. After the miracle of feeding the five thousand with the loaves and fishes, Jesus escapes from the crowd who want to make him their earthly king. When the disciples find him, they begin to question why he disappeared. He tells them (and us) “do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” And he adds, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Just as our food pantry does the kingdom work of relieving need in our local food desert, God gives us rescue from the love desert through the greatest gift of all – our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ to live among us and die for our sins. When we feed on the bread of life, we will never be forsaken. Glory be to God!