Year B Proper 12 John 6
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
Looking at this man it is unbelievable that cancer struck him in September 1996. He went through brain surgery and later chemotherapy so aggressive that it destroyed some of his muscle structure, burned parts of skin, and gave him permanent kidney damage. And yet the best bicyclists in the world have chased him for years. He is the pacesetter. He is the measure by which all others gauge their success. He is the unique one. All others are taught by his example.
Philip stood looking out at the masses that were now approaching. I'm not sure what was on his mind, perhaps thrilled by the success they were having. Jesus, watching over Philip's shoulder, asks, "Philip, where shall we find bread for these people to eat?" Philips gives a realistic appraisal of the situation: Eight months wages would not be enough to feed everyone so much as a little nibble. But we are let in on a little secret. Jesus is testing and I think teasing Philip a bit here. Jesus already knows he will feed them by multiplying five small barley loaves and two small fish.
Jesus is ahead of Philip. He is the pacesetter. He is out in front of them all, minutes ahead sizing up the situation providing the solutions before we even know what the problems are. He is the unique one, the measure by which all others gauge their lives.
The feeding of the five thousand is a miracle on a grand scale but if we concentrate too hard on the miracle we will miss the message in the background.
- What are we to learn from a small meal?
- What are we to learn from this big miracle?
- What are we to learn from the long awaited messiah?
A box came in the mail the other day. It was a surprise free gift from the local power company. Or I should say two free gifts.
The power company sent every one of their customers a new "low flow" showerhead, designed to cut down on water usage, but still feel like a real shower. The second free gift was four of those new curly-q fluorescent light bulbs, the kind that last longer and use less electricity while putting out the same amount of light. This small act cost the power company a few thousand dollars. But according to their figuring, in the long run if everyone replaced their showerhead and a few light bulbs, the savings would be in the tens of thousands of dollars. It was a small act, but it was a start to a big savings.
Small is big. From architectural trends like "The Not So Big House," to backyard food sources ("Fresh Food from Small Spaces"), to down-size is the new up-grade. In fact, down-sizing has become a big business.
Not too long ago only a few hippie-holdout co-op markets offered a small selection of scruffy-looking "organic" fare for the few "fresh-niks" among us. Now just about every big super-market offers about as much space to certified "organic" produce as they do for the other options.
Did you know you can buy all sorts of other "organic" products - ketchup, frozen pizza, macaroni and cheese mixes? What started out looking like a small and stunted sideline has become a major force in the food industry.
God has an MO: Modus Operandi. God's MO is to start small. God loves starting small, and then from small beginnings grow something amazing. From cosmic dust to a Big Bang? The next time you consider taking a sip from a fresh, cold mountain stream, remember how much the divine delights in single-celled organisms. There are millions of them floating in one glass of water. Consider how there are more insects than any other class of critters and more beetles than any other kind of insect, each fitting neatly into its particular ecological niche.
Jesus carried on the family tradition. Jesus had a fascination with all things small and humble.
Grains of wheat.
And in today's text from John, the remnants of a little boy's lunch box...