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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Today’s Reading | Mark 8:1–10

In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. (NRSV)


When I was a chaplain at Trenton State Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey, a colleague named Kate shared something really powerful with me: “In our brokenness, we depend on God, and while this is powerful, God also asks us to grow up—not in some judgmental way, but in an empowering way.”

In this story, Jesus is asking his disciples to “grow up.” He chooses not to perform another miracle while they sit as spectators; he wants them to take action instead of depending on his. So he asks them, “How many loaves do you have?” In other words, take responsibility; go to the task of sharing God’s love with God’s people.

Here’s what’s so empowering about that: our contribution to the work of God is valued! We have something to offer, by God’s grace. What’s more, God doesn’t disappear and leave us to it. The same God that was father to the fatherless and mother to the motherless continues to be with us, promising us that we’re not alone, but this time as our deeply gracious guide; God loves us enough to let us make mistakes and let us trip up but also to allow us to be a part of the miracle that feeds God’s people.

I don’t view the journey as a linear one: we will encounter seasons when we depend completely on God, for we must, but other seasons in which God asks us to look to our gifts to meet our community’s needs. You have bread to share. You have gifts to share. You have a task to take up. Get to it, for you are never alone; your community is with you, and so is God.


God who grants us permission to be, to exist alongside creation in gratitude, help me always to value that which you value, to see my own value, and to value my God-given gifts. Help me to remember that I witness to the Bread of Life by sharing my bread, by being community, and by using my gifts. In your name I pray. Amen.

Written by Edwin Estevez, Pastoral Resident

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