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 “The Monster Under the Bed”
John 6:1-21
25 July 2021   
The Rev Dr Dianne ES Carpenter


When we have a problem – How will we solve it?

The Monster Under the Bed – for example –is a problem…

How would you solve it? 

Meet a 5 year old girl named Megan.  Like many children her age for generations Megan was terrified of a monster that lived under her bed.  What to do? 

She sat down at her computer and used a software package for children to tell her story about how scary the monster under her bed was, about how she wanted it to go away and about how she solved her problem—she put the monster under her brother’s bed.  She included in her story pictures of herself, her bed, her brother, her brother’s bed and the monster.  These were pictures she drew on her computer.

When she was done with her storybook she decided to share it with her friends.  Friends Megan communicates with all the time around the world whom she has never seen- So she sent her story book by phone to an electronic bulletin board where children around the world could read and hear her tell her story.  A multimedia magazine called Nautilus picked up her story and published it.  It became the inspiration for two respected consultants who were writing a book in the realm of Business! [The Monster under the Bed:  How Business Is Mastering the Opportunity of Knowledge for Profit]

Last week at the Administrative Council meeting I suggested we find a high school student to run our technology and someone else said – an elementary student would be able to do it!

Children are naturally fearless so they pick up the remote control and start messing with the menu button so they relate to technology in a way that is instinctive while we are still staring at the instructions.

We have a problem – how do we solve it?  The monster under the bed is just an example of a problem.  Megan sets out to solve her problem.  In today’s passage Jesus poses a problem – there are all these people here.  How shall we feed them?

It says right in the text, Jesus knew what to do…this was a test for the disciples.  And you know what happened…

“I don’t know.  What do you want to do?

I don’t know.  What do you want to do?”

And they look at each other hoping Jesus will not actually make eye contact.

Thinking outside the box has a place- It’s hard for Andrew and it’s hard for us.  And perhaps it’s not thinking at all… It’s assembling the facts in different ways – or just listening over and over to the scenario… until it begins to morph into a possibility

What are our problems? The fear of the BIG unknown that is too close for comfort, while we are defenseless is one of those “common experiences” of being human that we face at all ages.  The phrase: the monster under the bed… Makes us think of children, perhaps it is children that we need to solve some of our problems.

Childhood monsters have many solutions.  Personally I like the cartoon solution – becoming invisible.

Grown up monsters are not as easily grasped or dismissed.

The monsters in this portion of scripture are hidden in the two miracles of this passage [1] solving unsolvable problems and [2] Feeling separated from God in Christ Jesus.

Everyone hates being tested and fear of the test that looms before us often ruins a good night’s sleep.  As young people in school the test might be literal.  Today it might be that medical test you need to go for. The monster under the bed might be the evets of the future which seem beyond us.  In some situations, they are literal expressions of “how will I feed these people?”

When third world people and people below the safety net in our own country hear this passage they are dealing with basic necessities –

Eg.  How to feed our family, find a job sufficient to pay for the necessities of life…how to cross barriers in our society for people who look different from the white majority of people who have privileges…

So their interpretations are literal expressions of: by faith, by God’s miracles, by working together…

Jesus is testing the disciples in this passage.   A test of thinking outside the box that has little to do with failure and everything to do with opening ourselves to different and new solutions.  The solutions to unsolvable problems will always come from turning a corner and beginning to use the material that has been useless in the past.

I would like to suggest 3 monsters that hide under our beds…

             The taming of technology

             The saving of our environment

             The elimination of racism expressed in many ways including this last week with hate crimes against Asian peoples.

Jesus is looking to us and engaging us in the problem solving of our day and our personal lives.

The child with curiosity.  That child in this passage is the only one capable to beginning the process of thinking outside the box.  The box does not belong to the child. The same person who is likely to admit his fears.  So along comes this little boy with his lunch…. And Jesus turns it into a feast.  Not because the boy has an incredible amount of faith but because the box was not the boy’s box.  There was no sense that: “If I give away my lunch I will never eat again.”

In our society there is a sense that if I give up my privilege I will never have it again, so we grasp tighter and tighter the privileges that come to us by our education, by our background, by our associations.

Instead of opening our hands and allowing God’s many gifts to work thru all people. So that child becomes Jesus’ answer [hear “Unless you become like a child”…repeat] 

Children are wired differently today…They come into a world that is filled with technology.   All our solutions eliminate technolggy.  All their solutions include technology.  As we move forward we cannot just project tradition forms …We actually need to do things differently in worship, in education…  Perhaps we need to learn from our children to not do things one step after the other as we were taught but we need to learn to assemble a plethora of information and funnel it through the technology.

Recycling is another thorny issue.  Ecology!  We have an opportunity to solve the ecological crisis.  Don’t send things to the “dump” the landfill but recycle!  I have people who stay during the summer and I always give people a walk thru… Here is the outside shower… Here is the inside shower that is not functional – it is where we put our recyclables… At the end of the week I pick up the trash and the recyclables and find out who understands recycling… [story]

Our young people are hearing about the environment and for them it is a survival issue… Our use-it-once mentality that has prevailed has resulted in this global holocaust.  It seems as though we have been caught up in a frenzy to destroy and ravage the natural resources.  Our children choose to see what they can do instead of seeing the overwhelming nature of what must still be done.  It was a handful of children who campaigned to make “dolphin safe tuna fish” the only tuna they would eat. It was a handful of children who wanted to save the Orca whales as they enjoyed “Free Willy” videos.

5 year old Megan never had the luxury of taking her natural world and the creatures she shares it with for granted.  Again we need to remember that little boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish.

Finally we come to the issue of peacemaking and racism.  Our boundaries can be overcome…Megan’s use of technology meant that people around the world would appreciate her contribution without bias.  This past year the Bishop suggested we read a book called Caste.  It is chilling to read ow deep racism runs in our culture.  In India there are many castes from the untouchables at the bottom to the Brahmins at the top.  That’s one of her examples.

The second is Nazi Germany where Aryans were the privileged people who deserved to live and flourish and they chipped away not just the Jews which we know from history they tried to exterminate but all sorts of people were eliminated until – in the words of a great Theologian Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) who was a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—

because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—

because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

If we are going to be people who put people in castes its really going to be a violent world in which we live. 

Finally, the country Germany looked to when it was creating its black folks in the same swimming pools unless they drained the pool and washed the walls afterwards.  It is a humbling experience to understand how much we can hate.  So when this little boy was willing to let go of his lunch and God was able to do something with it, we also need to be humble about what is that little thing we have to let go of in our life and let God use it in an incredible, miraculous way to create peace and safety and a world that is still here for our children’s children.

For me, the story of the feeding of the 5000 is a story [1] about dealing with the question of how would we face our problems because that is the question Jesus posed for his disciples. [2] living with the problems of our lives and trying to reorganize them [3] listen to the small voices among us and look to them for new solutions instead of the tried and true ones that keep us where we are instead of moving us to new places in our personal lives, the life of the church and the life of our nation.

2 Samuel 11:1-15 NIV David and Bathsheba

11 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.

10 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”

11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents,[a] and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”

12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”

Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV A Prayer for the Ephesians

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

John 6:1-21      Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

Sometime after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Jesus Walks on the Water

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles,[b] they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

1 Church St, Harwich, MA 02645
508 432-3734