Friday, July 24, 2015

God's Work, Our Work

This week’s Gospel reading is: John 6:1-21
1 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?" 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, "Six months' wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, 9 "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?" 10 Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost." 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world." 15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. 16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20 But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." 21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

Some thoughts on the gospel lesson:

I cannot think of this story without remembering the first time my son, at the time four years old, recounted it to me after Vacation Bible School. He called it: “Jesus feeding the fifty hundred”. He told me that there were a lot of people gathered to hear Jesus talk. They got hungry. Only one little boy had food, but he brought it to Jesus. Jesus broke it with his two hands- here my son demonstrates and holds his hands up like he is celebrating communion- and passed out the fishes and bread. Everyone had enough to eat and there were lots of leftovers. The end.

What a story! It makes an impression on even a four-year-old. My son didn’t seem fazed by the idea of a small amount of food feeding so many or even think it was that miraculous that Jesus was able to use the lunch of a child. In my son’s young mind, sharing is what we do and making it all work is what Jesus does. When everyone does what they are supposed to, everyone will have enough.

What a concept! As adults, we get caught up in the hows of this story. How did the disciples find a boy with a lunch? How was there really enough for everyone to share? How were there leftovers? Many times I have heard it said that maybe everyone brought a little food with them. As the baskets went around, they actually put into the baskets some of what they brought. Hence, everyone ate and there were leftovers.

I don’t think so. If this is the same Jesus who will walk on water out to the disciples and will later be raised from the dead by the power of God, what’s a little miraculous food distribution to him? It’s not magic. It’s a miracle. That means we don’t have to know how it happened, but to trust that God was at work and is willing to do the same thing again.

The child inside each adult must be willing to grasp what the children hear when this story is told. The little boy shared his lunch- sharing is our work. Jesus multiplied it and made it so all had enough- that is God’s work in Christ and through the Spirit. We have a task and God has a task. Are we doing our part so that we might be participants in how God’s part is being accomplished?

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