Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Journey With Matthew - Day 21

If I'd been organized about this I would have given today's reflection over to my boss, Bishop Doug Fisher. This is his favorite story in the Bible. I hear about it all the time at work; it's right up there with Bruce Springsteen and the NY Yankees for him!

Well, two out of three ain't bad; it's certainly on my top-ten list of Biblical stories as well. One of the things that strikes me the most is where it begins, those opening three words in English: "We have nothing..."

It does not serve the Reign of God when we say this or act like it is true. Because it is almost never true. Have you ever come home from work late and looked in the fridge and freezer and cupboard and seen "nothing?" But you don't feel like going back out. Or maybe heard one of your kids say, "there is nothing to eat in this house!" So you look again.

Actually some of the best meals I've ever made have been the unplanned ones when I thought I had "nothing." Lots of things can be made if one takes a second-look. It's a stone-soup kind of thing; it turns out there is nothing but a few lonely veggies and some frozen broth - and oh, a can of clams or some leftover chicken. And an onion. And a half a loaf of crusty bread that can be made into croutons...

The disciples have nothing. Well, nothing except five loaves and a couple of fish. The miracle here is not of the kind that makes the blind see or the lame walk but it's just as real, even if more "ordinary." In fact I think it is precisely the kind of miracle we need to cultivate eyes for seeing. We need to look again and see that there is not nothing, but in fact there is something. Because God can work with that if we dare to offer what we have. And when it is offered with thanksgiving, in "eucharistic" ways (the verbs in this story should be familiar one, as Jesus blesses and breaks and gives the bread) - it turns out that it is enough. In fact, more than enough...

In my new role of working with congregations, I see this a lot. Sometimes congregations are small, and they don't have the resources they once had - or their neighbors have. It's tempting to say, we have nothing. But in fact, a second look reveals that they have something - and if they dare to offer it, to ask God to bless it, miracles happen.

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