I humbly stand before you in the Name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Please God grant that we may hear Your Words and digest them. Let Your Word comfort us and continually turn us to Jesus and the Wonders of His love. Amen.
At Christmas time we sing, “Joy to the World.” And in that song, we sing about the wonders of His love. Depending upon how you look at it, this sermon is a bit too late or a bit too early for that. It is also too late for VBS, but it does fit in with the Wonder theme so I’m trying to keep that theme going here.
Andy Rooney from 60 minutes fame, years ago, would often start his commentaries with the question, “Didja ever wonder…?” I’m going to steal his technique for this sermon.
Didja ever wonder why you were there at that moment?
This will spark different memories for each of us. Give it some thought throughout your day. My wife and I were driving home one night. She’s the pilot but I at least get to sit in first class (the passenger seat). And this night as we drove onto the south Sunrise Service Road down from the on ramp, we miraculously drove right past a very young girl walking down the middle of the service road in the dark into oncoming traffic. My wife and I weren’t even sure of what we just witnessed.
I asked my wife to pull over immediately and I began running after this girl. I didn’t think this through. Now I’m a grown man running on the Sunrise service road into traffic in the dark. I witnessed car after car swerve around this little girl continuing her walk. I felt like I was running in slow motion. Like something out of a nightmare. Headlights were being flashed at me and horns were honking. I thought for sure I was going to see her killed right in front of me. So I prayed as I ran. I prayed that I could get to her before anything bad happened and with the Lord’s help I did. Thank God!
I got her over to the sidewalk under the bridge and was trying to ask her questions. I realized immediately she was a child with special needs. Her only focus was getting to Toy’s-R-Us. She continually tried pulling away from me and returning to her journey. Thankfully, two women also pulled over and we worked to piece together whatever information we could get from this little girl and keep her occupied on something other than walking into traffic.
Eventually a police officer arrived at the scene and with the information we gathered he was able to get through to the girl’s mother on the phone. The situation was in good hands now thanks to God. God saw to this girl’s special needs by putting special people where they needed to be at that special moment. I’m also talking about especially good drivers that avoided running this poor girl over.
Didja ever wonder about Wonder Bread?
Wonder Bread just recently turned 100 years old. It was one of the first companies to sell pre-sliced bread. This also helped coin the phrase “the best thing since sliced bread.”
They also sponsored the Howdy Doody show. Which led the way for Hostess Twinkies and Welch’s grape juice. I only remember the Howdy Doody show from reruns in the early 70s. A side note, a former cue card boy became the original Clarabel the clown (a regular on Howdy Doody) who later became Captain Kangaroo.
Wonder got its name from Elmer Cline a vice president in the company. He witnessed an International Hot Air Balloon Race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was filled with wonder at the sight, hence the name. This is also where they got their packaging design featuring red, yellow and blue balloons.
Bread is mentioned almost 500 times in the Bible. It must be pretty important. God let bread rain down from the sky to His people during the exodus. God had bread baked by an angel and brought to Elijah as well as ravens delivering him bread while he was on the run from Queen Jezebel. In the temple, the shewbread symbolized God’s eternal, covenant relationship with His people. Bethlehem, in the New Testament, where Jesus was born means “The House of Bread.” When Jesus fed thousands of people, bread was a major part of that miracle. And Jesus referred to Himself as the Bread of Life. We will get back to that Wonder Bread very soon.
Didja ever wonder about the song Wonder?
“Wonder” is a powerful song by Natalie Merchant. As a teenager, Natalie Merchant worked at a day camp for special needs children. She was amazed at how many of these children bravely and unbelievably overcome their seemingly insurmountable handicaps. Natalie (I call her Natalie now because we’ve become close friends over the past couple of sentences), she believed this happened with love, with patience and with faith. Because the children experienced true love and true faith in their lives, they developed their own way to navigate through our crazy and unforgiving world. Author R.J. Palacio credits this song for his inspiration for writing the book “Wonder” which became a film (with the same name) about a special needs boy (as opposed to the special needs girl from the song) that movie featured the actor, Jacob Tremblay.
I have children but I have never had a special needs child to raise. I have had several special needs children in my Sunday school classes. I learned these kids need God just as much as we do. That’s a special need we all have. We can’t presume we understand anything from their point of view. And definitely never from God’s POV. Just because they cannot respond or articulate their faith in a way we understand doesn’t mean they don’t have it.
These children should be seen only as perfect. As God sees ALL of us. If only everyone knew that we should see each other as 100% perfect for what God has planned for us. Each one of us is a wonder of God’s own creation. We are all perfectly made for our part in His plan. And we are all in desperate need of God. And to let His grace work through us in the form of great faith and unstoppable patient love.
When I teach my Sunday school students or preach a sermon, I can’t expect my audience to respond with the right words or demonstrate the bearing of fruit that I desperately pray for. I can only have certainty in my faith that the unseen reality of His grace in the form of the Holy Spirit is doing it’s job.
Didja ever wonder about your special needs?
Your special need defines God for you. God told Moses His name was “I AM WHO I AM.” We know God as Jesus, but who is God specifically to you in this special moment. In our Gospel when Jesus says, “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE” this is the first of the 7 “I AM” statements that Jesus declares. 7 statements! That’s a lot. He says, “I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. I AM THE DOOR OF THE SHEEP. I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD. I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. I AM THE TRUE VINE.” These are the 7 I AM statements in order. But why so many different statements and which one is specific to you right now?
Jesus is teaching us that what follows the I AM of God is your special need. When God says, “I AM WHO I AM.” He is proclaiming that He is whatever you need Him to be in your life. That is why Jesus makes all these statements. For example, if you need faith, then God says to you, “I AM YOUR FAITH.” If you feel fatherless then God says to you, “I AM YOUR ETERNAL FATHER.” If you feel weak, God says to you, “I AM YOUR STRENGTH.” If you’re lost, of course, He says, “I AM THE WAY.” When you say, “I just can’t” Jesus says, “I AM HERE, I CAN AND ALWAYS WILL.” Honestly confess your special need in prayer and you will then know the name of God for you now.
When Jesus says, “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE” He is speaking of your eternal provision. Not just your food but your everything, EVERYTHING you need to live for an eternity is found in Jesus! When we read scripture properly, we should read Jesus saying, “I AM YOUR LIFE” and “I AM YOUR ETERNITY” as well as “I AM YOUR LOVE” in every line! Jesus shows us that we are not slaves to our special needs. JESUS SATISFIES OUR DEEPEST SPECIAL NEEDS AND LONGINGS. JESUS IS OUR COMPLETE FULLNESS OF LIFE FOREVER!
C.S. Lewis put together a collection of essays titled “The Weight and the Glory,” and in this collection is a story about a young woman who was sealed up in a dungeon. She was an artist and was allowed to have a sketchpad and charcoal pencils. This young woman gives birth to a son while in this prison. And she sketches for her son what the outside world is like. He can’t comprehend of a world not constrained to dark lines. A world no drawing could ever conceive. In some ways this reminds me of the movie “Room” which also starred Jacob Tremblay who starred in the film “Wonder.”
We struggle with trying to comprehend God’s love, His grace and what heaven will be like by reading the printed words of the Bible. We need to remember that God is not constrained to dark lines, printed letters, pages or even an entire book. God, the Love of our life is not limited to His Love Letter to us. Connect to His Grace always there inside of you. Let that Grace open up your heart, you imagination and your senses outside of our earthly dungeon.
Whenever we experience joy and wonder here it can never compare to what He has in store for us in eternity. We have these incredible fleeting moments in this life where we may even say “This is the Life!” or “Wow! This is Living!” but without Jesus these experiences can quickly fall flat and are nothing compared to the Bread of Life found in Him. He is everything that is Perfect about Life and Living! And He gives us an eternity of it. We can’t even begin to comprehend the wonder of this love.
Didja ever wonder about a life with only one food?
There are a number of animals in this world that go their whole life living on only one form of nutrition. Only one type of food that sustains them for life. The pen-tailed treeshrew is one of them. This creature can be found in Thailand and Indonesia. They spend their whole life drinking booze and never get drunk. They only drink the fermented nectar of the Bertram palm. This is their food as well as their water. These small mammals who can fit in the palm of your hands consume the equivalent of a 12-pack of beer a night but show no sign of intoxication. I wonder how they do that?
To me, my classes and my congregation are my brothers and sisters in Christ. We are family!
My family and my extended church family need to partake of the Bread of Life. We are all completely lost without it. It is our physical, spiritual and eternal special need! Our oxygen, our food, our water, our everything all-in-one God. Confess to Him your special needs daily. Partake of His Bread Daily. Do this and you’ll never have to Wonder of His Love just embrace it, live it, love it back and share it! You can feel free to get drunk on His love and there’s no hangover. Get drunk on the Gospel and don’t forget to share! Pastor even has shots ready for everyone! JESUS IS THE LIVING BREAD OF LIFE! JESUS IS THE LIFE OF THE WORLD! JESUS IS OUR EVERYTHING IN ETERNITY! OUR MOST PERFECT SPECIAL NEED!