|Image from “Singing in the Rain” (1952)
(with Gene Kelly)
Lectionary Passage: John 6: 1-21
To read this passage online, go to http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=John+6:1-21&vnum=yes&version=nrsv
We love this story. (And they must have loved it in the first century because the writers of all four gospels chose to include it their unique account of the Good News of Jesus Christ.) Yes, we like the notion of Jesus providing everything we need, bursting in just when we are at the end of our ropes, just when we need help the most, and fixing the ails of our life (or at least feeding us lunch!).
But notice (don’t you hate that…yes, I’m about to ruin your image of super-hero Jesus pulling lunch out of a hat or whatever we thought he did!) that the story never says that the boy’s lunch was the ONLY food there. Perhaps there were some people holding back what they had brought, afraid to offer it for community consumption because, after all, what if they ran out? What if they needed it tomorrow or the next day or after they retire? So, perhaps the miracle lies not in some sort of image of Jesus creating something from nothing but rather in the little boy himself. He was first, freely offering what he had to Jesus and the Disciples to do whatever they needed to do with it. Now, note what was in the little boy’s lunch–barley bread and fish. Barley is a very inexpensive and somewhat “unglamourous” grain and fish were plentiful. After all, they were right next to this huge lake. (Just to get it in your head, the “Sea” of Galilee is actually a huge lake.) In other words, this was the lunch of the poor. The little boy was more than likely not from a family of means. Perhaps his mom had lovingly packed all they had into his lunch so that her son could have this experience of seeing this great man Jesus of whom they had only heard. But before that ever happened, the little boy stood and offered everything he had.
And, then, well you know how it goes. The person next to him saw what he had done, thinking that no longer could he now with a clear conscience keep what he had brought tucked away. And then the person next to that person saw him offer what he had. It went on and on, a veritable Spirit moving through the crowd. The message is right. It WAS a miracle! And when they had finished eating, they realized that it wasn’t that there was enough for all. There was more! There were leftovers that were then gathered into baskets. Maybe they were for later. Maybe they were for those who needed it. Or maybe they were offered as holy doggie bags to remind us that God always gives us way more than we really need.
So what about those of us who feel that we need to be prepared for the next storm that is coming around the bend? Well, keep reading. The passage goes on to say that the disciples started across the lake in the darkness. And, sure enough, the storm began to rage–blowing winds, crashing waves, beating sheets of rain bearing down upon them. Wouldn’t you know? See, this is what we were afraid of! But, there is Jesus. “Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid.” What is interesting is that the account never says that Jesus calmed the storm. Jesus calmed the disciples. Jesus reminded the disciples that no matter what, no matter how hungry or unprepared they are, no matter what storms come up unexpectedly, they are not alone. It is truly a story of extraordinary abundance.
I was going to write today on the David and Bathsheeba story but I got up early this morning to get a drink of water. And standing at the window in my kitchen, I saw the words on a plaque I have on the window sill: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” (I looked it up and the quote is attributed to Vivian Green.) It’s a great thought. Jesus is not a super hero that performs unexplainable miracles or plucks us out of the storms of life. Jesus is much more. When the storms come, when the winds rage, and when we just think we just don’t have enough for what’s coming, God invites us to dance, holding us until we find the rhythm that is deep within us and know the steps ourselves.
So, keep dancing!
Grace and Peace,
For those of you who are reading this through the St. Paul’s ESPACE link, welcome! And for those who get this as a “blog” email, yes, I’m finally back! I’m going to try to maybe do this 2-3 times a week. Keep on me! 🙂 Shelli