John 6:1–14 (New Revised Standard Version)
After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5When 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?” 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people? 10Jesus 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. 11Then 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. 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14When 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.”
Book of Faith Devotional Questions:
- What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text?
- What delights me in this text?
- What stories or memories does this text stir up in me?
- What is God up to in this text?
When I was installed at the first parish I served, this was the gospel lesson for that day. I know this because this story has always reminded me of the story “Stone Soup,” and we read that story for the children’s message that day, and then gathered produce and home-canned items from various gardens and made Stone Soup for the dinner that followed my installation. The people were so generous that we ended up with three big pots of soup, ate one (until everyone was satisfied), and brought the other two to the long-term homeless shelter in the area. With this act, a Harvest Sunday tradition was born, and it was something that I looked forward to every year. There is something simply wonderful about gathering what others have given and making something truly wonderful come of it, for ourselves and for others.
I am pretty famous among my parishioners for saying, “Many hands make light work.” This text reminds me that sometimes the work of only one set of hands can make all the difference. Can you imagine being that little boy on the hillside with Jesus? Realizing that everyone was hungry, and giving up his lunch? Maybe he thought that his offering would only be enough to feed Jesus, the one who was teaching them with such power and authority, and he thought that that would be enough. Maybe he was willing go hungry for the evening if he could just listen to a few more words from Jesus’ mouth. Can you imagine his surprise when the food started flowing all around him, and people got not only a taste, but more than enough? So much that there were leftovers? So much that his lunch came back to him, with interest?
This is Jesus’ power. It is the power to give us not only what we need, but more than enough. I often end my prayers with the words, “Lord, you see what we need, even before we ask for it. So we ask that you would graciously give us all that we need, this day and always…” Jesus is not a vending machine, but he certainly knows what it is that we need. And he loves us enough to give it to us. God bless those who have been given the faith, like the little boy, to open their hands to share all that they have. Jesus makes it more than enough.
In Christ, Pastor Breen Marie Sipes
p.s. Perhaps you have more to share than you think! I challenge you to do a “pantry food drive” and bring anything you can to contribute to the food shelf to church this month. Food shelves are often forgotten about in the summer time, and with kids home from school, it is often the time of greatest need. Let’s provide a pick-up load of what others need, and be Jesus to them in our thoughts, words, and actions. PB