I’m adding a Monday special to the blog where I take 500 words and add something from the sermon from the previous day. A point or two that I didn’t have time or space to develop further during the message.
Yesterday we gave the opportunity to our people to pledge a financial commitment for our ministry in the next year as we reflected on John 6, the feeding of the 5000. The punchline was clear: a person’s offering to God may not be much but it transforms in the hands of a generous God.
I suggested that the feeding of the 5000 was not just one meal at one time for the crowd in Galilee that day. Hungry people who get fed will be hungry again soon. Perhaps Jesus had a bit more in mind when enacting this miracle, then.
I suggested that it was a wild idea for a broken, poor, oppressed people to eat a meal in leisure where they could, “have as much as they wanted.” (John 6:11) Their Roman oppressors would’ve been annoyed when they saw a bunch of people who were tax to starvation and worked to exhaustion eating a picnic meal without a care in the world.
The result of the meal was staggering: the crowd wanted to make Jesus king, by force. (John 6:15) Jesus resisted them and went on his way. But the idea is powerful: Jesus miraculous feeding unleashed a rush of creativity and imagination among the crowd. “Imagine what Jesus could do if he was in charge?” They must have considered with great delight and hope and expectation.
An idea that we struggle with in contemporary, Western Christianity is how related religious ideas and politics were in Jesus’ culture. Jesus’ reference to a generous God who could provide food from next to nothing immediately held sway a political idea among that crowd.
Some would rather have politics and religion separated from one another and others seek to use religious frameworks to influence their political agenda. It’s interesting how both left and right will look to the Christian faith as a means to their political end, not recognizing how the Christian faith runs against another part of their platform. Politics is yet another way we can pick and choose for our own ends.
Jesus envisioned a concrete kingdom, a work of God here in the space-time universe that we live in today. Over 90% of Jesus’ references to the kingdom were present-tense, not future or a long way off.
It takes guts to envision Jesus working in our world, especially when we see so much that doesn’t resemble his hopes and faith for God’s new world. It takes great faith, accompanied with prayer and a whole lot of love to see it through.
A friend showed me a video from Moldovan farmers that helps to frame the type of protest it takes to begin to dream of God’s new world. Moldovans are among the chronic poor in Eastern Europe and have seen numerous set backs in the development of their country. Even in pleasant harvest seasons, regional tyrannies have stolen from them or have damaged their crops to keep them down.
This video is so de-centering. Moldovan farmers singing, “Show Must Go On” by the rock band Queen in the English language. In essence, they are saying, “You can try to harm us… we’re still here. We’ve got hope.”
Enjoy and may we plot our own goodness in our own time and place.