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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Focus: Infinite Multiplication

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, - John 6: 1 - 21

Google this loaves and fishes gospel and you’ll be swamped with 246,000 entries. What seems like a pretty straight forward narrative means widely different things to many different people. There is a large body of thought that sees this as a clever bait and switch by Jesus. His preaching supposedly cajoled the crowd into sharing a horde of food they had secreted away. Then there are the numerology obsessed. They see great significance in the number of loaves and fishes, the count of the crowd and the baskets of leftovers. Their zeal for minutia is only exceeded by the hyper-analytic who expound on why barley loaves instead of wheat, why fish, why the crowd reclined, and on and on.

Of all the miracles of Jesus, the Resurrection and the Loaves and Fishes are the only ones to get this much attention. They are the only ones recounted in all four gospels. And while the Resurrection towers above all, the Loaves and Fishes is the one which involves the greatest number of immediate participants. Yet despite its familiarity, from a sampling of the Google entries, its full meaning often escapes understanding.
First let’s give the miracle its due, by using its full name. It is the “Multiplying of the Loaves and Fishes.” And the concept of multiplication goes right to the heart of the event. It was certainly in Christ’s power to create a lavish buffet from scratch; including a desert cart served up by angels, with Moses and Elijah as surprise after-dinner speakers. But Christ came to do more than perform parlor tricks on a divine scale. As in all things, Jesus is teaching us a lesson. He took the meager loaves and fishes from the poverty of the people, blessed and broke them and then gave them back in satisfying superabundance.
Jesus explains the basic covenant of our salvation by playing it out in this parable of an impromptu lakeside picnic. The Messiah, God and Man, has come among us. His bounty is bottomless. He offers eternal life, there for our taking. He asks only that we come as we are, bringing what we have… our struggling faith and our flawed love. What we give to him will be blessed and miraculously multiplied on a cosmic scale. By his grace we will be satisfied beyond imagining.
In this gospel and in every passage of the Good News, there is a single unifying message: God loves us. And Christ is literally the embodiment of that love. Where we see scraps, he creates abundance. Where we see emptiness and depression, he creates profound fulfillment and boundless joy. In his love we are nourished and protected. He is the bread of life, infinitely enriched and multiplied for our salvation.

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