Fishes and Loaves
In my travels, I will see people with signs that say “Will Work For Food”. I often wonder if these people are really serious, or just out to get money? Do people actually stop and pick these people's offer? How hard will these people work? Then there are the Day Labors that I see, who do get some work, but how much are they paid, and how often are they ripped off?
In the Bible story about Jesus feeding the thousands with fish and bread, I wonder how many of them actually came to hear the word of the Lord, and how many of them found out that someone was giving food away, and they just came for the meal? did any of them who heard about the meal and came just for that, actually have a conversion and began to follow Jesus? Were there any who were following Jesus who stopped once they were fed?
Going to different churches is an interesting thing, as I often look and wonder who in the pews are there just to be fed the word of the Lord, and how many of them are their to Live in the Lord? Many people think that because I am active in the church, that I must be a Christian and live my life totally in Christ. To be honest, I don't think that I do live my life totally in Christ, but I try my best. do I call myself a Christian? Yes, but at times my fulfillment isn't in what I do in the church, but what I do outside of church. Some of the things that I do are because they are the things that my ancestors instilled into me and stuck.
I was asked by someone to get involved in a group that was planning to do ministry. The ministry that was to be done wasn't about trying to fill up the pews of the church, but to reach out to people in different forms. Now when we gathered we had no idea on what was going to happen, but we would trust in the Holy Trinity to bring forth the ministries that we would be involved in through ways that we didn't realize it would happen.
One of the people had been doing a ministry that I really hadn't thought about, and that was packing bag lunches for Day Labors. He started this in his kitchen with 25 bags that he took out to where the people are. He didn't preach to them, but simply gave them a lunch bag. To his surprise, some of the guys had said that the food that he had brought them was the first meal that they had in several days. He continued with this for several months when he could, then reached out to people in his congregation, and much to his surprised found support from people. He then began to make the lunches at the congregation, and fed even more. After he finished talking about what he did, we quickly decided that we wanted to help, and now it is up to over 100 lunches that are put together and distributed. These are just a sandwich and an apple, but more. Some hard boiled eggs, peanuts, cookies, and/or other things. Also included at times are socks and/or a small bottle of hand sanitizer. We are now looking at trying to do this several times a month, because people aren't hungry just once a month, but every day.
Another friend of mine has started a program where the people of the congregation put together small bags to hand out to people who beg for change or look like they haven't ate anything. These bags contain non-perishable food that people can keep in there car or elsewhere to hand out. Imagine sitting on a bench feeling hungry and someone walks up to you and offers you something to eat. I wonder how many of the people who at of the fish and bread where like them? How many of the people who were given the fish and bread gave it to someone else to partake of because they looked hungry.
Several years ago, I was involved in a Nightwatch program here in the diocese. Now this wasn't like the old ones that occurred here in the 1980s and 1990s, but changes occurred to make them relevant to the 21st century. The earlier ones were OK, but one thing that I noticed about them was that when people talk about them, they always talked about how much fun they had, but never talked about what they got out of it. It was like they had gone to a slumber party. Something happened with the new Nightwatch that never occurred with the old one, that being the spirit of giving, and it came as a surprise.
The City of San Francisco in conjunction with some organizations held a rally each year in celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on his holiday. In this parade was a march of “Freedom Riders” who had traveled from San Jose and other areas and they would parade to the Civic Center for a program. We gathered the youth, had them make lunches and walked to the a point where we would join in with the others on there way to the Civic Center. But something interesting happened along the way to join the parade. Youth were asked for change to get something to eat by people, and you would give the people their lunches or part of their lunches. Most adults wouldn't give part, no less ALL of their lunch to someone looking to eat. These youth caused the fish and loaves to grow like Jesus.
But the fishes and loaves also represent other things in life. How often have you wanted something in a small amount, but have been surprised at how much you have gotten. How often have you had something that was only a small amount that you were amazed at the amount you actually seemed to get out of such a small amount? Look at the liquid laundry bottles in stores that are sold now. It wasn't too long ago that you would buy a bottle of the stuff and you had to use a bunch in your wash, but now you can buy the same size bottle and get so much more out of them if you follow the directions.
How often have you dealt with a small child and thought that they didn't know much, but have been amazed at the things that you learn from someone so small?
There is a woman who attends my congregation who is suffering from cancer. We hadn't seen her in a while, but she showed up one Sunday for service. I believe that it was right after exchanging the Peace, she came up and I believe thanked everyone for the prayers. Our Pastor came down and laid his hands upon her, and as he did, the congregation all came up and laid their hands upon her also as he said a prayer. What started off as a small piece of bread turned into loaves around her. This past Sunday she came in and she appeared to be much better, as she had gained weight and was looking stronger. Yes, it appears that the loaves are now turning into bundles of bread.
You may look around and think that you don't have much, but you would be surprised at the loaves of bread that you really have. Remember to thank the Holy Trinity for the loaves that you do have.