You Give Them Something to Eat

Have you ever had an experience you’ll never forget?

It was the day Jesus fed over 5000 people.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

We’d all been a bit worried about Jesus.

He’d just lost his mentor and friend, John.

And it wasn’t just an ordinary death.

It was a gruesome one, an execution at Herod’s palace.

And as if that weren’t enough, they had no respect even for his body.

They put his head on a platter.

Jesus took the news hard.

John had been the one who poured the water over his head

When he heard the affirmation from God:

“You are my beloved.”

John had been with him at the beginning of his ministry,

The only one who could say, “I remember when…”

John was one of the pillars of Jesus’ life

And suddenly, he was gone.

John’s death didn’t bode well for any of us, actually.

Rumors were circulating that Jesus’ had healing powers because

he was actually John, back from the dead.

So many of us were thinking that Jesus could be next of Herod’s hit list.

Being his disciple didn’t make you feel real safe.

We could all tell that day that Jesus wanted to be alone.

He did that a lot, actually, spending time alone in prayer and in rest.

I was always thinking that we should be out there ministering to people,

But often Jesus would slip away and be gone for hours.

Sometimes we didn’t even know where he was.

When we saw Jesus heading for the boat, we made John go ask him if he wanted some company.

He didn’t.

So we all watched him sail out across the lake.

But no sooner had he gone, then people started to appear out of nowhere.

They were asking where Jesus was going.

We honestly told them we did not know, but the growing crowd was undeterred.

They started walking around the lake, in the direction that Jesus set out.

We had nothing better to do, so we went, too.

When we got to the other side, we could see Jesus in the boat.

I expected him to turn back around, or perhaps just stay out in the lake for awhile.

But to my surprise, he began to row into shore.

We ran into the water to help him pull up the boat.

“Teacher,” I said to him, “don’t you want a little quiet?

We can send these people away.”

Jesus looked out over the crowd,

There were crippled and maimed people, and blind and deaf,

People with weighed low with burdens

People with hungry expressions.

“No,” he sighed.

“They are like sheep without a shepherd.”

And he turned to them, and began to speak.

He stayed there all day: teaching, healing, and telling stories.

I wondered where he found the strength.

Finally, when the sun grew low, we disciples decided it was time to end the day.

“Jesus,” I said, “send the people back into town.

It’s getting late. These people will need to get something to eat.”

We were a concerned for Jesus, but also for ourselves;

There were bread riots in Rome, and when people were hungry, anything could happen.

Jesus turned and looked me in the eye.

“You give them something to eat.”

I couldn’t believe what he was saying.

I mean, there must have some 5000 men there, plus all their families.

How could anyone feed all those people?

We barely had enough for ourselves.

“But we have nothing here,” I said. “Just five loaves and two fish.”

“Bring them to me,” he said.

Then an amazing thing happened.

Jesus took the loaves and fish and blessed them.

He broke the loaves and gave them to us to pass out.

I took my meager portion of bread, walked into the crowd, and handed it to a woman.

She ripped off a piece of bread, and then passed the rest to the child beside her.

I watched as this small action was replicated, from one person to another.

To my astonishment, the bread didn’t seem to be getting any smaller.

Like the widow’s jar of meal that fed Elijah, the widow and her son for many days,

This bread did not diminish when broken, and afterward, there were 12 baskets filled with the leftovers.

There was another meal, this one later, under more somber circumstances.

It was to be the last meal we would share with our Teacher.

He taught us many things that night of the Passover,

most of which we didn’t understand at the time.

But he did the same thing with the Passover meal that

he had at the end of that day with the great crowd:

He took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and then gave it to us.

He said, “This is my body, given for you.”

“Do this in remembrance of me.”

Now many years later, I remember Jesus’ words as I try to live out the Good News.

I remember his command: “You give them something to eat.”

There are so many people hungry in this world:

Hungry for justice

Starved for love

malnourished in body and impoverished in soul.

And yet Jesus, who sits on the right hand of God, does not do magic to make it all go away.

He reminds me that he already took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and then gave it –

To me.

“You give them something to eat.”

Sometimes I am so overwhelmed!

Sometimes I grow weary in doing what is right.

Then I remember Jesus, who on that day of the loaves

ministered in the midst of his grief

and taught in the face of fear.

I remember Jesus, who cared for us and fed us on that last night,

and then walked toward his own death.

And I remember so many times since then

When I have gathered around the table with the faithful.

I hear again Jesus’ words: “This is my body, given for you.”

What do I think I am doing when I take the bread and drink the wine

If not taking this same Jesus into my very self?

What am I doing if not receiving his power

His forgiveness

His love

So that I may then be His body, his very hands and feet, in the world?

Many times I have thought about how Jesus took some much time to be alone and to pray.

Now I know that he spending time with God, the one he called, “Abba, Daddy.”

Jesus was connected to the Source.

It is how he could do all he did.

It is why we call him the Son of God.

I hear you followers of Jesus are going through some tough times right now—

Things have changed, and they aren’t the way they used to be, right?

Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough people or resources to go around.

And then there’s the mission of Jesus to carry on-- to heal the hurts, to feed the hungry,

to stop the violence or end the injustice-- well, I can imagine it seems a pretty daunting list.

But let me tell you--

When Jesus commanded me to feed that multitude, Jesus provided the way.

When he shared his last meal, Jesus gave himself to me.

Now I am connected to the Source.

Now Jesus lives in me.

I can break the bread, and give it to as many as will receive it, because it is Jesus working in me

Not me alone.

The same is true for you.

When you gather at this table, you are connected to the Source.

Jesus lives in you.

There is enough, more than enough, for the challenges ahead.

For in the face of a starving world, Jesus provides.

Prayers 8-4-02

With the whole people of God, let us join in prayer for the church, those in need, and all of God’s creation.

Remind us of your abundance, O Lord.

As we face the hunger of the world, sustain us in our weariness and calm our fears.

By your holy meal, form us into your Body,

that we might be your hands and feet in the world.

God of mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Remind us of your abundance, Lord.

When the worries of this world consume us, teach us what is truly important.

By your Holy Spirit, lead us to value what you value.

God of mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Remind us of your abundance, Lord.

As many struggle day to day,

gift us with your power that we might share the abundance of life in You.

We remember esp. (list) as well as those we name aloud or silently.

God of mercy,

Hear our prayer.


Remind us of your abundance, O Lord.

Remind us that you provide all that is needed, and more.

Remind us that you have broken the bread of life, and have given to us to share.

In the name of Jesus we pray,


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