As we do every October, we are beginning our Stewardship focus. This month’s Worship series will feature several voices from our congregation, all focused on the idea of Generous Living.
It feels fitting that we are returning to the Gospel of Mark after having read this Gospel in its entirety over the last couple of months. It is my hope that you have read the text below recently, even though it is not one that we explored directly in the Worship setting. This text includes the familiar setting of busy-ness, as “many people [are] coming and going.” I know I fall into that same trap of forgetting to eat (or so many other things) because I buy into the notion that busy equals productive or even successful.
In the busy-ness, the disciples pro-actively realize that the people will become hungry; but they also see that their own resources are limited. In this example, the disciples are operating out of a paradigm of scarcity. But Jesus knows that a little is enough…
Mark 6:30-44 (CEB)
30The apostles returned to Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. 31Many people were coming and going, so there was no time to eat. He said to the apostles, “Come by yourselves to a secluded place and rest for a while.” 32They departed in a boat by themselves for a deserted place.
33Many people saw them leaving and recognized them, so they ran ahead from all the cities and arrived before them. 34When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things.
35Late in the day, his disciples came to him and said, “This is an isolated place, and it’s already late in the day. 36Send them away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something to eat for themselves.”
37He replied, “You give them something to eat.”
But they said to him, “Should we go off and buy bread worth almost eight months’ pay and give it to them to eat?”
38He said to them, “How much bread do you have? Take a look.”
After checking, they said, “Five loaves of bread and two fish.”
39He directed the disciples to seat all the people in groups as though they were having a banquet on the green grass. 40They sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41He took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them, broke the loaves into pieces, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42Everyone ate until they were full. 43They filled twelve baskets with the leftover pieces of bread and fish. 44About five thousand had eaten.
Consider these questions:
- What are some ways you’ve operated out of a scarcity mentality? What do you think is the source of this line of thinking?
- What do you think might be the opposite of scarcity? What do you think is the source of this line of thinking?
- Are there ways you’ve operated out of this opposite mentality (i.e. opposite to scarcity)? What were the results? How did you feel?
Post-Worship Update on 10/8
Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).
Sunday’s Worship included some ways to parallel with the experience of the characters of the text. The people following Jesus were so busy that they didn’t take time to eat; and it is likely that each of us have done so from time to time. The disciples recognized that something needed to be done and rightly went to Jesus; and we ourselves look at the world, knowing that something must be done, and turn to our Savior and Christ.
But then Jesus does something in the text that I think he continues to do today: he tells them—and us—to get to work!
It is easy to look at the challenges in the world and feel overwhelmed. It is surely easy to look at all that can be done in order to enable this congregation to grow, and to feel overwhelmed. But Jesus didn’t do it alone! The disciples didn’t do it alone! There were thousands of people gathered around who may have all participated in the miracle that took place!
When we feel overwhelmed at the challenges of the world or of our church or of our lives, perhaps we should remember that we are together the body of Christ, and we are together the miracle that Jesus calls to get to work!
Consider these questions:
- What’s something in the world that you see as a challenge where you also see a way that you can make a difference? Are you doing it? If so, how can you continue to be successful? If not, what is preventing you? In either case, how can you work alongside others in this work?
- What’s something in this congregation that you see as a challenge where you also see a way that you can make a difference? Are you doing it? If so, how can you continue to be successful? If not, what is preventing you? In either case, how can you work alongside others in this work?