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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 6:1–21

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. (NRSV)

What are moments you remember where something surprised you so much that you did a double take—swinging your head back to double-check what you saw? Maybe it was something unbelievable like seeing someone in a place you wouldn’t expect to see them. When my family, who is from small town North Dakota, was on a trip in Washington, D.C., a few years ago, we ran into family friends from another North Dakota town. In the Capitol Building. Of our nation’s capital. That has thousands if not millions of tourists per year. Unreal.

There are other more commonplace moments that make me pause in wonder. Watching the sunset from a raised “L” platform; seeing a flock of birds float through the sky; peering out the window and watching the buds on a tree appear and bloom. They make me turn and look again.

The story of Jesus feeding five thousand with a few loaves and fish and the story of Jesus walking on water are astounding. They should make us do a double take. They should make us stop, go back, and read it again with surprise at what we just read. We’ve heard these stories so much that sometimes they lose their shock value. But think about it. Jesus walked on water. Think how the disciples reacted. They were terrified! This was astonishing. Look again. How is this possible? What are other moments in your life that have lost their wonder? How can you do a double take to find wonder and mystery in the (maybe not so) mundane?

Creator God, help me to find wonder in the things that seem too old, well-known, and mundane. Help me to see the beauty in little surprises all around. Amen.

Written by Marit Johnson, Editorial Assistant

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