Time To Encounter


August 02, 2017

Scripture: Matthew 14:13-21 (NRSV)

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Scripture: Isaiah 55: 1-5 (NRSV)

  Ho, everyone who thirsts,
   come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
   come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
   without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
   and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
   and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
   listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
   my steadfast, sure love for David.
See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
   a leader and commander for the peoples.
See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
   and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
   for he has glorified you. 

Reflection:

Many evenings I have the joy of sitting by the water in Niantic, and I love watching various people trying their hand at fishing in many spots to see where they may have some luck. I haven’t seen many carrying fish home. One evening, a man walked past me and asked a group of fishermen, “Where are your fish?” and a young boy quickly answered, “They’re still in the water.” Ha!
 
Wonder if the young boy has ever heard the fishes and loaves story that’s in Matthew’s Gospel reading. Can you imagine the look that would be on his face if he heard how Jesus took the five loaves and two fish and suddenly heard how 5000 were fed and twelve baskets were left over? What happened? For us in 2017, do we read this as a literal experience or as a symbolic message of what happens when Jesus offers nourishment about God and that they can grow and share in that wisdom? Scholars have shared how this story expresses the symbolic encounter of God meeting those who are hungry for a transformative experience; for the wisdom of the inner world that can’t be acquired through academic studies or calculations. Here, we learn how the people were fed by that which Jesus offered.
 
Are you hungry for an encounter with God and to receive God’s wisdom on how to live your life with more faith, hope, love and peace? Perhaps a trip to a body of water will take you into an experience with the Holy Spirit or taking time to meditate will lead you to that experience. Will you give yourself the time to do so?
 
I hear so many people in their every day lives, describing their moments of hunger, thirst, and a sense of emptiness when they thought they were moving along the path that guaranteed success and abundance of wealth. I sense they’d tried to conquer it through other means or tried to walk away from it, or ask God dissolve the struggles. It’s fascinating to hear how many find themselves instead, in a moment when they ‘met God’ in some mysterious form, and that their needs were met and they sensed they had been cared for, but in a totally different way than they expected.
 
Have you been surprised???? Or are you hungry and thirsty for an encounter with God.
Jesus says, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” Isaiah heard it hundreds of years before that and heard:
  Ho, everyone who thirsts,
   come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
   come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
   without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
   and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
   and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
   listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
   my steadfast, sure love for David. 

Prayer:

Forever patient God, help me to breathe and remember your words of the covenant.  May I take the gift of pausing and resting.  Nudge me to name my hunger and my thirst so I will listen;  for I know that it is your Word alone that can feed my soul and nourish me.  Guide my feet to your waters.  Amen.
 
The Rev.  Lee Ireland resides in Niantic and is currently the Interim Pastor at the United Church of Chester until mid-August. 
 

Spirited Wednesday: August 02, 2017 , by