In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, ‘I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.’ His disciples replied, ‘How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?’ He asked them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ They said, ‘Seven.’ Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people. － Mark 8:1-9a
The favorite cross of Pastor Paul’s best friend, the Rev. Thomas Richter, which features five loaves and two fish.
I love this story from Mark’s Gospel. This is the story about the time Jesus fed four thousand people with seven loaves and two small fish. Part of why I love this story is that it is the second time in Mark’s account that Jesus wants to feed thousands of people but his disciples say they do not have anything with which to feed them! The kicker, of course, is that the first time Jesus performed such a miracle, it was with more people. Mark tells us in chapter six, verses 30-44 that there were five thousand men (not counting women and children). Here, in chapter eight, there are only four thousand total! And in the first miracle, Jesus only had five loaves and two fish. Here, he has two extra loaves. After everyone was fed, the leftovers filled seven baskets.
When the disciples saw scarcity, lack, and challenge, Jesus took what was on hand and created abundance! What makes this miracle story special, even though it is slightly less impressive numerically than the first, is that this event with the four thousand creates a trend. This is showing us how Jesus works and that it is not limited to once-in-a-while. Rather than focusing on what they lack, Jesus looks at what is available and works with it.
This is great news because we know that Jesus continues to be near to us and that he continues to work in this world! Whenever we look and see lack, Jesus generally can say that he has done more impressive actions with less.
As a congregation, we are beginning the journey of figuring our future. The process by which we will do this is called “Appreciative Inquiry.” Appreciative Inquiry, as a technique and philosophy, mimics what Jesus does: look at what one has rather than what one doesn’t have. Tomorrow morning and Sunday afternoon we will have our introduction to Appreciative Inquiry as a process as a congregation. (If you are interested, call, text, or email me for more information.)
It is with the most ordinary of objects by which our Lord God, Jesus Christ, does Holy things.
God continue to be with you,
Yours in Christ, Pastor Paul+