Jesus looked up then, and seeing the vast multitude that surrounded him and realizing they had traveled a great distance and were tired and hungry, he said to Philip, " Where are we to buy bread, so that all these people will be fed?" Jesus did this to prove, to test...to help Philip discover that mustard seed of faith that births the Kingdom into being.
Philip answered Jesus, " Forty dollars worth of bread is not even enough that everyone will receive more than a handful of crumbs. A few of the other disciples said there was some kid in the crowd with five barley loves and two small fish, hardly even appetizers for a crowd this size.
Jesus said, " make the people sit." The ground was covered 5000, it looked a multicolored carpet, humanity spread out before Jesus. Jesus took the loaves, praying gave thanks, gave it to the disciples and the disciples gave to the crowd. Jesus did the same with the fish. They had as much as they wanted.
When they had all had enough, Jesus asked the disciples to gather up all the broken pieces of fish and bread that were left over, so that nothing was lost or wasted. They returned astonished with twelve baskets of leftovers from 5 loaves, and two fish. ( from the opening of John 6. paraphrased )
It's fascinating, as I'm writing and processing this at the same time, that Friday night at CARTS is a profound mysterious worship service...it is church with out the building. Someone just this week, I think Alan Hirsch tweeting back and forth said that the churches greatest sin was pouring concrete. He may be right, history and empty buildings will tell the real truth.
Anyways, at CARTS we do have our liturgy, which means, " the work of the people ". Everyone one is engaged in the reality of " Kingdom " worship, it is mysteriously vertical and horizontal...it is the love of God and neighbor.
Before we leave the parking lot behind the Capital 6 theater, we have a circle time...the volunteers, and our friends in the inner city and we join hands. It's not some join hands, we all join hands. There is a real sense of community. Feeling the cold, the roughness, the warmth, the squeeze of a hand; the smile, the sadness, the pain, the tear in a eye on a face...it's human, and we are all connected here in this place, and also to something much bigger.
My dear friend Al usually shares a short musing on the Kingdom, and a prayer before we make our rounds to " Our Place, Centennial Square, Street Link, the Salvation Army and the maze of streets in between. Last evening, Al shared the above story of Jesus feeding the multitude...it has always been one of my favorite.
First of let me say, I'm not a nay-sayer to miracles...I have witnessed them. Jesus could have fed 5000 people with what looked like a snack. If the mere sound of his voice can give rise to all creation, all that exists, then he can feed thousands with nothing much more than a happy meal. But, maybe weaved into the mysterious texture of this story is another miracle.
What would you call it, if you got 5000 people, the majority strangers, maybe from different cultures, different religious backgrounds. Maybe some were friends, maybe some were enemies. It was like a mix of poor, middle class and the rich. Lets call it a snap shot of humanity...in real time.
What would you call it...if you got 5000 people to share to the point where none was in need of more, and there was an abundance left over? What would you call that?
This is the freakin' reality of the Kingdom. When we live in the context of the Kingdom, miracles aren't so much miracles as they are the norm. It's mind blowing yes, because it turns our little worlds upside down. In the midst of Jesus, we all, humanity realizes it's poverty...and I'm not talking just food. We realize how impoverished we are with out the other. We need each other. And we need Jesus.
What must I do to gain eternal life, abundant life...the fullness of the Kingdom of God ; Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength...and to love the other. Live this and the Kingdom becomes a reality.
Just a Jesus asked Philip, " where are we to buy bread, for all these people to be fed." We can be overwhelmed by the multitudes, but we can grasp that mustard seed of faith...and Love, Love and Love. Love the other as much as we love God...and out of that share. Sharing not out of our left overs, but out of everything we have. Sharing to the point where humanity, creation is no longer in need. To the point where all are full, and there is an abundant left over. Then we can truly say, the Kingdom has come.