Monday, February 5, 2018

Scriptural Imagination Take One

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 toward 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.”

What do you wonder about when you read this passage?  Do you wonder what it was like to to sit by the sea side, waves lapping on the shore with the smell of salt in the air and on you lips?  Do you wonder how five loaves and two fish could ever feed a crowd so large?  Do you wonder about the boy who offered his lunch?  Do you wonder what it was like to taste the bread...was it sweet or savory or ordinary or like the best bread you've ever had?  Did you eat a lot...so your belly burst OR was it like communion where just a little can satisfy you with more than a trace of grace?

What do you wonder about?

Who are you in the passage?  Are you in the crowd...faceless and nameless but there?  Are you one of the disciples a bit confused by Jesus asking you...imagine YOU to help feed everyone?  Do you feel that exasperated and exhausted by such a request?  Are you on the sidelines or front and center?  Are you the boy who is willing to offer his lunch?

Enter the story...and ask why are you that person?

While I want to be the boy...more than likely I would be someone hanging back...waiting and watching to see what happens.  I would be off to the side even if I wanted to be in the middle.   Longing to offer some of my lunch to help the cause, but concerned how others might receive or perceive me.  Because that is what we do so often, especially in a world where current events so divide us.  We stay safe on the sidelines.  We want to help, but the arguments we had over Thanksgiving about something said or tweeted or sharing the opinion we heard in the news and suddenly the air was thick with tension ~ the pumpkin pie was light/air in comparison.  There on the side, scanning and surveying the scene unfolding.  Watching the disciples look frustrated....perhaps a look they had wore at other times.  Watching the people in the crowd restless, confused about what would happen.  I saw how that crowd had followed Jesus.  How the story of Passover, the narrative of Moses freeing the people from Egyptian's boot on their neck.  Now, Egypt was going by the name Rome, but the feeling of the boot was all the same.  The people knew God had fed their ancestors with manna in the wilderness.  The people had sat with family every Passover asking, debating, and discussing the question, "What makes this night different?"  And what do we need liberation from this year?  And yes, there is always some powerful person wanting to control and confiscate our authority.  And yes, there is always some person at work or in our family or neighborhood...BUT what do I need to be liberated from in my own life.  Not only in the world I live in but in the world that lives in me.  Now, suddenly, what that bread and fish tasted like was not just about food, it was about tasting grace that could set us free.  That what it tasted like to me when the feast finally made a stop in front of me.  I tasted God's presence.  I saw a loaf of bread that kept the same size.  I saw person after person take, eat, and see that God is good all the time.  And all the time God is good.  You can read the story above from John or from me.  I pray both together would remind us that God feeds us in ways we cannot always comprehend cognitively, but nevertheless satisfies us with a presence and a peace.

But I wonder...who are you in the crowd?

Grace and peace everyone ~~

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