August 6, 2020
Matthew 14: 13-21 “You give them something to eat.”
When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully—someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.
Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.”
But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.”
“All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said.
Jesus said, “Bring them here.” Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.
I met with the Diaconate on Monday afternoon to make plans for this Sunday’s outdoor worship service (you’ll be there, right? In the parking lot, 10am, bring a chair… about 30 minutes, with Communion????)
And we also talked through their idea to hold an Exit Interview with me, to get a sense of what went well during the interim, and what might have been better. We’ll be doing that in the next 10 days or so, before I am done. As we were working on what might be asked, I asked them what they wanted to come of this interview. That question made me think of this reading.
We all know this as the Feeding of the Five Thousand, and often the focus is on the miracle of coming up with another food. In my Quaker First-day School, the emphasis was on the miracle of the generosity of those who had food put away and brought it out to share. Today, though, I want us to think about why the disciples came and asked Jesus to send the followers away.
What did Jesus want to have happen when he responded to the disciples? What had they wanted?
Well, it looks to me as though the disciples wanted to handle things easily, without being too involved. “Send them all home, let someone else feed them. . .” And Jesus wanted them to take responsibility, to take charge of the feeding effort. Think of the disciples as tired, hungry, and fearful that things were spiraling out of control. They had no food, they had no money, and they had no sense of their own abilities, power, authority.
Jesus wanted them to understand that their faith gave them authority, gave them power, and made them responsible.
You all are on the edge of starting a new relationship, welcoming your next settled pastor. What do you want to have happen as a result of that new relationship? What will she want of you? Why will you ask for those things? How will each of you, all of you, exercise your authority, your power, and take up your responsibilities?
Blessings, Pastor Virginia