May 1, 2020
Many of you are familiar with the feeding of the 5,000. It is the only story in the Bible that all four of the Gospel writers shared. Jesus is meeting with his disciples in a private place. Mark 6:31 says; “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while”. I just love that Jesus loves us so much that he wants to care for us. He invites us into private places so that we may rest in his presence and we may learn from him.
This passage settled on my heart not only because of this verse, but because of the events that followed as well. Even though Jesus was tending to his disciples, he knew that the crowd had followed and themselves had traveled a distance. Mark says, “As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and had compassion for them”. With such a massive group gathered and as it grew late, it was time to send them off to find food. Jesus placed the responsibility on his disciples to feed them. With concern, they told him there was insufficient supply of food they could not comprehend how Jesus expected them to feed so many with so little. Yet, everyone was fed that day. In fact, 5 loaves of barley bread and 2 fish, offered by a young boy, fed 5,000 men (not to mention the women and children!) and there were 12 baskets full of leftovers.
Jesus has the ability to turn selfish people into generous sharers. I do not intend to demean these disciples, especially since they are not so different from any of us. Many parents go through times of wondering how they will put food on the table, many of us have gone through times of lacking. We recently witnessed masses of people wiping out grocery shelves of toilet paper. In times of angst, we all tend to be selfish beings. How is it that we responsibly provide for ourselves and our loved ones and mindfully care for those around us?
Jesus shows us that we just need to be willing to offer a little of what we have to allow him to multiply it and use it for his Kingdom. I would like to share a story with you. Through this pandemic The Living Well Mission is doing all we can to see a need and respond. In the beginning of “stay-home” orders we connected with an assisted living apartment complex. The residents could not go to the grocery store, staff was limited and many either had family that could not get to them or no family at all. So we began delivering items of food and personal care items at no charge hoping to offer some relief. We are able to do so because of the support we receive from our faith community and the generosity of our donors. We received a letter from one of the residents thanking us for her items and a check for $8. This gesture warmed our hearts! We know that she sent what she could in gratitude. Imagine God’s joy when we offer a gift in faith and gratitude for what we have!
I am so grateful for our church family and all the love and support that continues to come in as we learn to worship in a new way. What in my head was only temporary, is now the way we will be doing things for a while. This means we need to access the necessities, what we envision moving into the future and how we are going to carry on our ministry and responsibilities of being the church and making disciples for the transformation of the world. We are called to be active participants with Jesus in making this happen. We are not on pause; we are still in active ministry. How will this look for you? What opportunities missed before are beckoning us forward now? This is not about writing a check to the church; this is about taking what we have and actively working with Jesus and others to multiply the blessings that God has for all of us.
I pray that you have felt God’s presence and care during this time. It seems as though God has pulled us aside to offer us rest and perhaps gain our attention. What is he teaching us? I also remind you of Jesus’ compassion. So many are struggling in these days, so many are feeling helpless. How can we respond? We are not asked to go miles out of our way, we are not asked to go without food or possessions (though those first disciples were told to leave everything behind, weren’t they!). We are told to hand over what we do have so that it can be blessed, multiplied and put to use.
This passage has given me much to think about. I encourage you to read each of the Gospels telling of the feeding of the 5,000. I know you will find so much more to bless you. I pray for all of you often and hope that you are feeling God’s presence through all of this. I myself am encouraged by the possibilities for our church, for those that we can introduce Jesus to and for our own relationships that will be enriched because of our act of faith.
I look forward to having conversation with you about where God is leading you, how you have witnessed his works during these days of the pandemic and what you are bringing forward as an offering so that it may be blessed and multiplied. I for one, know I need to turn my selfish inclinations into generous sharing.
God Bless You~
P.S. We continue to hold services via ZOOM each week. I am sending out the service outline and message via email and to a few addresses. If you would like to join us and have not received the information please reach out to me!
Please hold the Branchport United Methodist Church in your prayers and our ministry! I am so grateful for all of you and hope you are staying safe.