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Racine, WI 53405

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Be a Miracle

Can you imagine a crowd of maybe 7 or 8,000 people (I know it says 5,000, but that was without counting women and children), spending the day listening to Jesus in a remote and isolated area, watching as he moved among them, touched them, spoke with them, healed them.  And then, as evening began to fall, the disciples (who were probably getting hungry themselves) thought it was time to send them off to find food, but Jesus said, “Giive them something to eat yourselves.”  The disciples said, but we only have 5 loaves of bread and two fish.  I’m sure they expected Jesus to say, ‘You’re right, send them away to find food.”  But he surprised them and said, “Have them sit down in groups.” 

Barbara Brown Taylor, in her book The Seeds of Heaven, comments that “If the disciples operated out of a sense of scarcity, then what Jesus operated out of was a sense of plenty.  He looked at the same things the disciples looked at, but where they saw not enough, he saw plenty: plenty of time, plenty of food, and plenty of possibilities with the resources at hand. [W]hat Jesus knew beyond a shadow of a doubt was that wherever there was plenty of God there would be plenty of everything else."

So, in an act that interestingly resembles a communion service, he took the loaves, blessed, broke them, and passed them out and there was enough for everyone, plus 12 baskets of broken pieces left over.

Perhaps I’m too practical, or too logical, but I can’t help but wonder how this multiplication of the loaves and fishes actually happened!  The story doesn’t tell us.  I started wondering… did they just regenerate after people tore off a piece, did they multiply as people set them down for a second, did they grow in size?  How on earth did it happen? 

Then I read something in Barbara Brown Taylor's book  that got me thinking about a new way of looking at things. If you were setting off to follow Jesus to a "remote and isolated area" (Luke 9:12) and knew you would be gone for a while, would you go empty-handed?  Who would follow Jesus to a lonely place without some sort of preparation – blanket, wine skin, water pouch, hunk of bread?  The people hadn’t asked for food, nor does the passage say that the people were hungry or had no food.  It was Jesus who suggested that they be fed.  Perhaps when the people saw that Jesus had taken all that he had and was sharing it with them they, too, started to pull out what they had stashed for themselves – a little bit of meat, some homemeade cheese, a few raisins, some chunks of bread – and they began to share.

Then, as bread was shared and as they ate together, perhaps they begin talking and laughing, community was created, walls came down and they become one in a way that they weren’t before.  What was given away came back as blessings in community and friendships.  And then at the end when the pieces were collected they found that the five loaves had grown to 12 baskets full of every kind of bread you could imagine…it’s a miracle!

 Now, maybe you’re thinking to yourself, that’s not a miracle.  That’s just human beings being generous and sharing what they have.  That’s just people chipping in like they are supposed to do – that’s not a miracle!  Or is it?

Miracles suggest that it has to be all about God – God’s intervention into human history. And if we believe that a miracle is only about God acting, then where is our responsibility or role in the creation of goodness in this world?  Are we sitting in the crowd waiting for God to act?  Waiting for a show of power? Yet, Jesus says, don’t wait for God to provide the food, and don’t send them away, you give them something.  Don’t wait for a miracle, participate in one.  And sometimes we’re afraid to get the ball rolling, we’re the first to say, not me, I don’t have enough to begin with; not me, I don’t have the skills or talents to do it alone.  Not me, I don’t have the time.

But I believe amazing things can happen if we step forward and offer what we have to be blessed and given. Miracles in fact. Something wonderful that we didn't ever believe was possible. We can participate in miracles everyday simply by reaching out to others, standing up for justice, sharing a hug and a smile, offering to help, donating to a cause, sharing food… whatever we offer is blessed by the spirit and multiplied.

So, in the words of Barbara Brown Taylor, "Stop waiting for a miracle and participate in one instead."

Love & Light!