Rollin’ in the Dough—and Fishes
In recent years many books have been printed that focus on baking vast assortments of breads—from rye to pumpernickel, French to Italian. Today, however, we encounter a bread that points to both a deeper longing, physically and spiritually, and an even more fulfilling outcome than the tastiest assortment of baked bread. This abundance of bread satisfies hunger, transforms lives, and ushers in a new vision of the holy in community. Recognizing the power of action, John calls to mind the ways prophets fed and nourished the people, and then he multiplies this in the person and action of Jesus. Jesus uses earthly gifts to provide for the gathered community—the gospel’s vision of Jesus’ life and God’s abundance in creation. Second Kings and John allow our congregations to wonder with the faithful servants and disciples how God will provide. We are invited into a conversation that might start by reflecting on a sentence written by the late United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold: “Each morning we must hold out the chalice of our being to receive, to carry, and give back.” The scriptures today open a door for us to think about how individuals and communities are nourished and sustained by God, and also imagine how we become vessels of the holy who are now opened to the call of service. How might ordinary gifts (and ordinary people) become the ways God’s love and mercy are multiplied in sustenance for neighbor, community, and world? Through our questions, our acts of giving, and our proclamation of the works of God in Christ Jesus, we are invited to experience what it means to be rooted in God’s sustaining love and to proclaim this God who invites us into the unimaginable vision of abundance.
In John’s gospel, the miracles of Jesus are called “signs,” because they reveal the true character of God. As such, they remain within the mystery of God and cannot be brought under human control.
1Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” 10Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”
15When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
16When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.–John 6:1-21