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Friday, January 23, 2015

Today’s Reading | John 6:1–14

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 towards 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.” (NRSV)

The scenario is common enough. There is much to do and not enough of whatever it takes to get it done—time, money, food, faith. Someone comes up with a great idea. Everyone nods. Then someone asks the first question; it is likely whether there is sufficient money or personnel to accomplish the task. Eyes drop. The motion is tabled. Nothing is accomplished.

Jesus tells Philip to feed the gathered crowd. “You want me to what?! We don’t have the money for that.” Andrew points out a boy in the crowd. “He’s got a little food but it won’t go very far.” I wonder if the boy offered the food seeing that there was a need. “Take this. It’s not much but maybe it will help.” Kids don’t always think through things the way adults do. (Perhaps that’s why we are encouraged to approach God like a child.)

I remember my invitation to serve the church as deacon. The cynic in me takes the Groucho Marx approach: “I’m not sure that I should be part of a group that is willing to have me as a member.” I really struggled with it. There are so many more qualified people here. I had to consciously decide that whatever I had to give, God would know how to use it. I am strongly convicted about this approach to lay leadership. We don’t need to have all the answers to make a difference. Maybe it’s better if we don’t have any of the answers. Sometimes we simply need to try something and let God handle the rest.

Great Perfecter of Faith, help me continually live into the knowledge that my task is to act, to do, to begin something with the knowledge that your guiding hand can multiply the smallest of portions to accomplish great things. Amen.

Written by Rob Sinclair, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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