Glass half empty or half full? How would you answer that question? It might be fun to have a conversation about where each of us is on that dynamic? And what about our Christian faith-half full half empty? I would like to apply that thinking to the miracle of the loaves and fishes- but I urge you not to jump to conclusions because the answer might surprise you!
So, a brief recap: A crowd of people has followed Jesus to the lake shore. Their attraction to him is so strong that in their excitement they forget the picnic lunch.
Jesus leans over to Philip and says, “Philip, how are we going to buy enough food to feed all these people?” It is a test. And Philip, responds the way God’s people often reply to a crisis. “We’re done for. Half a year’s wages wouldn’t be enough to feed all these people.” And then, as Philip begins to mumble, his colleague Andrew informs Jesus that a boy in the crowd is carrying a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. “But so little as that” Andrew says in effect, “is really quite irrelevant under the circumstances.”
“Make the people sit down”, replies Christ. The meal is blessed, served, then eaten and when all are satisfied, there is enough left over to fill 12 baskets. So much abundance!
Unfortunately much of the time we seem to forget this fact. Much of the time our faith seems to mirror that of Philip and Andrew, who could not see past six months wages or the meager 5 loaves and 2 fishes.
We tend to base our own living on our own scarcity-what we don’t have, or even on our own fears of insufficiency. So we hoard and save and worry and end up living in small and safe measure. We pull back when we should push forward. We give in to our fear rather than exercising faith in God’s abundance. Glass half empty. Circle the wagons. Expect the worst.
Feeding of the 5000 says don’t expect the worst, expect the best; expect the unexpected! Feeding of the 5,000 says Christians are constantly on call to go places where we have never been, to do things we have never attempted and to see things we have never envisioned before.
Here at Grace Church we can look at the contraction of two services to one in two ways; one way is to say it is necessary because after the exact same worship schedule for the last generation, and because Grace Church has experienced roughly 30% decline in Sunday attendance during the past five years; God is calling us to do something different.
However another way of looking at this, is that as we are followers of Christ the one who can make something out of very little we have faith that more in this circumstance has nothing to do with numbers but everything to do with a more hopeful, more unified congregation moving forward.
The feeding of the 5 thousand invites us to live into a grace filled inheritance, a timely calling because most of us tend to live on the edges of what God is offering us. We are challenged you and I to take seriously God’s generous offer of life of abundance so we can position ourselves for the adventure of faith that enriches and enlivens those who embrace its challenge.
However we look at life: glass half empty or half full, God can and does meet us where we are, whether we are optimists or pessimists- but know this God is not satisfied with a half filled glass, God in Christ is in the business of filling the glass up; overflowing.
For instance, at the wedding in Cana Jesus instructs the servants as the wine was about to run out to fill jars with water which he turned into wine- good wine that lasted for a long time! At a community well in Samaria, Jesus tells a woman who has had a hard life about living water gushing up to eternal life. As a matter of fact, wherever we go in the Gospels we are confronted with this profuse and full measured flood of God’s grace mediated through Christ. And that is certainly the message of the feeding of the multitudes in today’s Gospel.
Jesus says to us today and every day, I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly. Let’s fill the glass!