July 23, 2018
By Sara Ofner-Seals.
Rev. Sara Ofner-Seals is co-pastor at First Congregational Church in New London.
After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ 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. 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. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 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.’
There are two competing viewpoints in this story. There is the point of view of the disciples, who operate out of a sense of scarcity, and there is the point of view of Jesus, who operates out of a sense of abundance. Somewhere in between these two viewpoints lies a miracle. Somewhere in between when Jesus blesses the food and the baskets start to make their way around the crowd, there was at least one person who was willing to take the risk of moving from an attitude of scarcity to an attitude of abundance-- to offer what little they had, trusting that others might follow their example so that all in the crowd might be fed.
If anyone needs to be convinced that this is a small miracle in and of itself, just take a look at our world right now. We live in a world where people constantly fear that there will not be enough, and there is plenty of evidence that they are right. All over the world, there are over 2 billion people living on less than $2 a day. In our own country, the number of people living below the poverty line continues to grow.
In this kind of world, the fear that there may not be enough often forces us to retreat into a scarcity mindset. Yet the Gospel story this week suggests that there is another way. It is a way that requires us to take the risk of believing that there actually can be enough— not just for ourselves, but for all people-- if all are willing to bring what they have to the table.
In our world today, would that not be some kind of miracle?
God of abundance, move us from our fear that there won’t be enough to a faith that trusts in your providence and provision. Give us the courage to risk sharing our gifts with others, knowing that we are all interdependent and interconnected. Amen.
This Week in History:
July 26, 1775 (243 years ago): The U.S. postal system is established by the Second Continental Congress, with Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster general. President Washington would later appoint Samuel Osgood as the first postmaster general of the American nation under the new U.S. constitution in 1789. At the time, there were approximately 75 post offices in the country.
Starting With Scripture: July 23, 2018 , by Sara Ofner-Seals.