Lenten Devotional 4/1/19

April 1 , 2019                             John 6: 1-15                   Heather MacArthur

“Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” …. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”

A few months ago our Oak Hill family sat in the basement after lunch one Sunday and dreamed of what we could do with our church building; a building that that has served our congregation, and the neighborhood, for more than several generations. We could have dreamed small, nobody would have been surprised or criticized us, after all we are a small congregation and our resources are limited. Instead we embraced the spirit of abundance rather than scarcity. Take some time to read some of the ideas we wrote down, and go ahead and add some more!

The reading today from John’s gospel is a very familiar one -The Feeding of the Five Thousand. It is so familiar that most of us could probably re-tell it from memory, but reading it anew really helps to illustrate how to live faithfully. Jesus asks Philip how to feed the 5000 strong crowd and Philip replies, quite rationally, that 6 months wages wouldn’t be enough to meet their needs. Seriously Jesus we’re talking about 5000 hungry people, not a regular church luncheon! Then Andrew finds the boy with the five loaves and two fish, which seems even more ridiculous…BUT WAIT, not only are the people fed and satisfied, there are 12 baskets full of leftovers. It’s almost like Jesus is overdoing this miracle a bit. Or as author Anne Lamott often says, “God is such a show-off!”

It has been said that this is a miracle of sharing, rather than one of literally multiplying food …and indeed sharing may be a greater miracle in a world where we hoard so much for ourselves, and clamor for walls and bans to keep people out. But I think it may also be that Jesus is teaching the disciples (and us) that the extravagant good news he brings to the World is one of abundance, not scarcity. There is not just enough for all, there is more than enough for all. When we submit to our fear of scarcity we are tempted to scale back our dreams and hoard what we have.  As people of faith we should boldly dream and when the time comes to reflect back on what God does with our dreams, we will realize that, not only did we have enough, we had leftovers in abundance!

PrayerLord, inspire our dreams to be big, bold, and extravagant. Help us to live in a spirit of abundance and not scarcity, holding on to the promise that with you all things are indeed possible. Amen.