Yesterday I took my sermon from John’s gospel, 6:1-15. You remember the story: A bunch of people are following Jesus and it’s time to eat. The problem is – no food for this large crowd. Jesus has a plan, but he tests the folks on how big their minds can expand around this concept of feeding so many with so little. Five loaves, two fish, and we’ve got dinner for 5,000…it’s an amazing miracle.
Greg Tolle reminds us of a 2003 editorial by Gretchen Hakola that posits the idea that maybe this is less about a miracle of multiplication and more about a miracle of sharing. I mean, who among us sets out for a long day’s outing with the kids and doesn’t pack a few drinks, a bag of Cheerios, and some crackers? Surely these folks had the same concerns for their families; surely they brought a little something along for the day in the country with Jesus. But, when it came time to eat, maybe these well-prepared folks hesitated to show what they had with them for fear they might have to share some of theirs with somebody else. It took the action of one little boy who was willing to share what he had to open the hearts and hands of everyone else to share what they had. Jesus used this as a great teaching moment and everyone had plenty to eat. With no biblical basis, it’s impossible to know if Gretchen is right; but, she sure makes a lot of sense to me.
I wonder how different our world would be if more people had this same sense of sharing. I wonder how the current economic crisis might be different if people were more willing to share the wealth. I wonder what a sharing miracle could do for our culture today. It seems to me that sharing is one of those things we learn in kindergarten that we’re supposed to remember all our lives. It seems to me that everyone would be better off with a little more sharing going on. Sharing material possessions, natural resources, and ideas might go a long way to solving some of this world’s most serious problems.
On a smaller scale, sharing can change the life of just one person forever and help them find hope within their hopelessness and love within their despair. Sharing can truly change a person forever. It can be the beginning of a relationship with God that will transform someone into a faithful disciple. We talk so much about sharing the Good News – the Gospel – with others; we talk about sharing God’s love with others. The real questions is: Do we understand what that means? It often means taking a risk; it means putting yourself out; it means thinking of somebody else before you; it means some inconvenience. Hmmm…Sharing sounds challenging.