There was once a new priest who when into a parish and preached a wonderful sermon on his first Sunday. The next Sunday he preached the same sermon word for word and people enjoyed it but thought it odd. The third Sunday… well you guess it he preached the same sermon and people began to grow concerned. So when he preached that same sermon for a forth time the congregational leaders called the bishop and asked him to come and meet with them. At the meeting, the question was put to the bishop, “what kind of clergy did you send us? We have a priest who has preached the exact same sermon for the last four weeks. What are you going to do about it?”
In reply, the bishop asked a question to gain clarification, “What was the sermon he preached about?” After conferencing for a moment, the people admitted they could not tell he bishop what the sermon was about. So the bishop suggested to them, “have him preach it one more time and this time, listen to him.”
We look at the same situation this morning but from another angle, through another pair of eyes; eyes that were actually there to be able to write about it. The Gospel this week is John 6.1-21 and is the same story though different lens. In fact, this particular story is told in all four Gospels because it was that important.
So, what do we need to get out of this from Scripture? First, let’s remind ourselves that the Law and the Old Testament shows that we need a Saviour because we are lost and away from God. Because we are lost and way, we are sick and dying and in need of God’s salvation. People will respond to grace and the display of power because they are in need and want that need to be fulfilled. Second, we need to remember that the Old Testament tells us who Jesus is so that we can recognize him for who he truly is. Case and point, there is a story in the Old Testament about the Prophet Elisha who did as Jesus did. 20 loaves of bread were brought to Elisha and he directed for the bread to be given to the village where he was living (2nd Kings 42-44). How would 20 loaves of bread be enough for 100 people to eat? And yet though faith all eat and were satisfied and there was some left over. Which were gathered up and ready to share with those in need.
Jesus takes the Twelve to a desolate place to remind them of their identity as Jews, as the People of God. And when he saw the need of the people he knew what he was going to do but tested one disciple: Phillip. “How are you going to feed the people; where shall we buy the bread?” Phillip understood the cost in human terms – that it would take almost a year’s wages to feed the people that were coming. He did not protest in spending the money like Judas might but was open to the idea of doing it. Andrew brings a boy who has a basket. In the basket the boy is carrying five loaves and two small fish. What is that? It is not enough to feed them much less the thousands around them.
Jesus takes the food, bless it, breaks it and begins to share it with those who are there in that place. 10,000 – 15,000 people ate and were satisfied. They ate their fill. And there was 12 basket collected of leftovers – a sign of the completeness of the miracle and the ability to feed those who would continue to come.
God did not need a lot of raw material to make things happen and to feed and care for his people. What is required is a willingness of the community of the Church to be open to offering whatever they have – even if it means that we think it is not enough and expect God to do what needs to do – even if we think it impossible. He can do more than we can ask or even being to imagine. What we need to do is dream and imagine how things could be and ask God to accept that within his will. We came. We will do our part and now it is up to God. It is his problem and we put all of it in his hands for him to deal with.