With the sudden (if brief) arrival of summer, today feels like a good day to hear the story of the most famous picnic of all time.
We all know it so well – and it may be tempting to just enjoy sitting on that sunny hillside, part of the crowd that listens to Jesus....knowing that we can trust him to feed us when the time comes.
That's good – and true.
We DO need to take time to sit still and listen to Jesus – and he WILL ensure that all are fed, if we trust him to do so.
But there are other parts of the account that are also worth our time.
Jesus worked the miracle – but he needed that little boy, who gave everything that he had with him.
He didn't stop to think about practicalities, to ponder the impossibility of that small packed lunch feeding the assembled multitude...He was instead, impressively impulsive...just the way that younger children always are when you ask for a volunteer.
Sometimes God needs us to be wildly impractical, to allow ourselves to be swept up in his vision, to offer ourselves to attempt the impossible...and always, always, he takes the little that we offer and transforms it beyond our wildest dreams.
But we do need to be obedient...Jesus asked the disciples to get the crowd seated – and they did their part, as did the crowd, before there was any evidence of food on the horizon.
Too often, I fear, I limit God's work in my life by assuming that nothing is going to happen.
Instead of sitting down expectantly, I'm the one arguing about how it can't really work...insisting that really we ought to have a plan, should maybe send a group to buy supplies...missing the miracle by my own stubborn insistence that it cant really happen.
To live in obedient hope leaves the way clear for God to do great things in the most unlikely situations...
And God's generosity is unstinting, limitless
When those gathered on the hillside had been well and truly fed – there were twelve baskets of fragments left.
Jesus took the little that was offered and transformed it into enough and to spare.
He still does...whenever we let him.
You see, we really don't need to view the world from a perspective of scarcity.
So often we live as if we must, above all, protect ourselves and those dear to us.
We plan our living and our giving as if there is not enough to go round – though we know, if we stop to consider, that there is enough for our need, if not for our greed...that even today, it would not take a huge effort to redistribute wealth & resources to ensure that everyone had sufficient.
But we cling on, worried that we might go short...and we are no better in the things of faith – for we assert the claims of our own brand of belief in ways that suggest that we can't cope if God loves others as well as us.
Like a child again, but this time one intent on attention seeking we jump up and down demanding that God notices US...engages with US...over HERE...We're the real Christians, the true Church.......
We forget that God so loved the WORLD – each and every man, woman and child who has ever lived...so much that he sent his only Son.
There are no limits.
I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth....
God longs to fill us, as Paul grasped after his own vision expanded to include those whom he'd once seen as beyond God's reach
“that you may be filled with all the fulness of God”
Fulness of life.
Fulness of love.
Love without conditions, limits or end.
Love that enfolds each one of us here.
Love that transforms us...and our half hearted, inadequate offerings, just as a fragment of bread and a sip of wine are transformed through God's grace into His Body & Blood – all that we need to sustain us as we journey in faith.