Give Us – August 2, 2015

“Give Us”

2 Samuel 11:26-12:14                   John 6:24-35


           In 1921…the American writer Myra

Brooks Welch…wrote a poem entitled “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.”



‘Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer


Thought it scarcely worth his while


To waste much time on the old violin,


But held it up with a smile:


“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,


“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”


“A dollar, a dollar”; then, “Two!” “Only two?


Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?


Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;


Going for three—-” But no,


From the room, far back, a gray-haired man


Came forward and picked up the bow;


Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,


And tightening the loose strings,


He played a melody pure and sweet


As a caroling angel sings.



The music ceased, and the auctioneer,


With a voice that was quiet and low,


Said: “What am I bid for the old violin?”


And he held it up with the bow.


“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?


Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?


Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice,


And going, and gone,” said he.


The people cheered, but some of them cried,


“We do not quite understand


What changed its worth.” Swift came the reply:


“The touch of a master’s hand.”


And many a man with life out of tune,


And battered and scarred with sin,


Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,


Much like the old violin.


A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine;


A game–and he travels on.


He is “going” once, and “going” twice,


He’s “going” and almost “gone.”


But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd


Never can quite understand


The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought

By the touch of the Master’s hand.



Jesus told us how to get that touch in our own

lives.  He told us…and the crowd by the

lake at Capernaum that it can’t be bought or earned.   It comes from the bread of life…Jesus

Christ…a gift that God gives us. 

Suppose you invited another family over for

dinner this Sunday afternoon.  You

prepared and served a grand meal…a really fine spread.  You fixed their favorite meat…cooked just as they

like it. There was a big tossed green salad, steaming baked potatoes with a hot

cheese sauce, a cool refreshing beverage and apple pie a la mode.  What a dinner!    When

it was completed everyone sat back patting full tummies. 

Now, suppose that when they started to leave

your guests pulled out their wallets and asked,

“How much do we owe you for this?”

You would probably say, “You don’t owe me anything!”  But, what if your guests respond, “We most

certainly do!  We are not freeloaders!  How much do we owe you?”  They even threw a couple twenty dollar bills

on the table. 

Just the mention of a payment in such a setting

would be a grievous insult.  Yet…we find

ourselves going through life trying to pay for free bread and in the process

giving the same kind of insult to our Lord.


Jesus said…”This is the word of God that you

believe in him whom he has sent.” Jesus was telling us that the bread that

endures…that is eternal life…is bread that is freely given…bread that we should

freely receive.  It comes through

belief.  We do not pay for it

ourselves.  The price has already been paid.


So often…we become like Brenda.  She was the daughter of members of an

evangelical faith.  She became involved

in a church of another faith where people celebrated loudly and were expected

to speak in tongues.  She was involved in

the politics of those who wanted to lead the church. 

Brenda became tired of church politics.  She was tired of revivals and religious

rituals that no longer captured her imagination.  She had witnessed people taking Jesus’ name

to use in their own campaigns for something.

She was worried that there was no chance of discovering something beyond

her own being.  Even the Bible had lost

its power.  God’s voice had been silenced

by what was called religion. 

Brenda decided she would spend some time in a

Catholic monastery.  She was apprehensive

when she approached.  She had called

ahead and they said there was room…but she had never seen a nun up close…nor

had she ever seen that part of the world called Catholic.  The monastery grounds were

beautiful…large…and private…with many places for contemplation.  The buildings were old, but good.  A sister answered her knock at the door, but

she didn’t wear the expected black and white habit.  It was her face that said everything.  Brenda felt that she was among people who

knew God…who knew what she needed…and who knew how to nurture her.  She was taken to her simple room and told she

could stay as long as she needed.  She

asked about costs and was told no money was required. 

In the silence and simplicity and beauty of

that place…Brenda’s soul was restored.

Fellow pilgrims in the Christian journey…the priests and nuns…who had

walked the road of faith far longer than Brenda spoke to her gently about their

discoveries of knowing God.  And…they

loved her.  The clutter of her religious

history…with all of its rituals…rules…and politics…began to go away.  She began to hear God’s voice speaking words

of affection and assurance.  She realized

how many so-called religious habits she had acquired when all that she really

needed was a pure and pristine walk with Jesus.

He alone was the bread of life.

Her earlier life had been filled to the brim with religion in

abundance…but there had been little life in it. 

Being fed by God is so simple that in a world

congested with busyness…it has become hard to understand.  Like the pursuit of joy…the more we run after

it with strategies and plans…the more it seems to flee.  It is not gained by ministry accomplishments…righteous

efforts…or the intellectual mastery of the Bible.  Being fed by God requires a conversion of

thinking…a discovery that God is eager to give…to give us…life and renewal…to

give to anyone who can listen in simplicity and piety. 

For several weeks…we have invited persons to

come to the communion rail during our last hymn…and in that time to be with God

as they felt comfortable.  Some of you

have come to be with God.  That’s a short

version of Brenda’s trip to the monastery.


Coming to the Lord’s Table is another similar opportunity

to be with God…to be with Jesus…to allow him to give you…give us… life eternal…and

comfort and strength for the day. 

Today we invite you to the communion rail

twice…for the Lord’s Supper and during the playing of our last hymn…to be with

God…to allow him to give you…give us… life eternal…the bread of life…to put our

life in the Master’s hand.