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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 6:30–46

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray. (NRSV)

Jesus is a miracle worker. Imagine feeding over five thousand with just a few loaves and fishes. In seminary I often asked, “How on earth is that possible?” That is quite a miracle.

“You give them something to eat.” That’s his command. Go and feed the people. Their response is meager.

In the children’s story Stone Soup by Marcia Brown, three soldiers come to a town as they make their way home from war. They are starving and haven’t eaten in two days. When they ask the townspeople for food to eat, everyone replies that they have nothing. But the soldiers know better, and they get creative. They make a “stone soup” with water and three stones. As the townspeople watch, they stir the pot of water and stones. “Wouldn’t this be much better if we had . . . ?” Each time they ask, someone brings carrots, or cabbage, or another ingredient. Eventually, they create a soup large and delicious enough for everyone in the town to eat and they feast together as a community.

Jesus’ response to the disciples claiming they have no food is his creative response in disguise. Like these soldiers, he knows there will be enough. Between the small things that the people offer and Jesus’ ability to feed God’s people, all are fed.

God, help us to be creative in our lives and responses to others to see beyond so that we might see what you and your people are capable of. Amen.

Written by Shelley Donaldson, Senior High Youth Coordinator

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