Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. Matthew:14:13-21
The story of the loaves and fishes is probably the most loved and well known passage of the New Testament. It appears to be universally known in the Middle East shortly after Jesus’ life. An old chapel and fresco of fish and loaves has recently been uncovered at one of the places that has long been suspected as the historical site where this occurred. So well known and accepted is this narrative that it is included in the Koran as evidence that Jesus spoke truth with power. We all understand that this narrative is a significant parallel with the gift of manna in the wilderness of the Old Testament. We all understand that it is proof that God provides for our needs when we need them. However, if we just stop there, we overlook the deeper meaning of the story. Miracles are for a reason. Jesus could have multiplied the loaves and fishes and sent everyone home with a sack lunch of their own, gluten-free for some and whole wheat for others folk. But the people were directed to sit down in groups. And, now we are into the deeper meaning of the story! With something as simple and ordinary as five loaves and two small fish that a child shared, Jesus was able to build community for an Ashland-sized group of people out in the wilderness. Community in the wilderness, all created by willing people and a sack lunch that a child shared.
Community heals many of the most troubling things that plague humanity. Covid has deprived us of deep community for long enough that sometimes people now don’t know what we are missing. We have gotten by on Facebook, Zoom and streaming church services for too long, and it shows. It has worn down the very fabric of our society- violence is raging, people’s tempers are short, incivility is all too commonplace. We need to remember what it means to be together and build community again.
So, I say, give yourself the gift of God’s love by being present! The so-called “National Back to Church Sunday” is always the second Sunday in September. If you are able, make a point to celebrate “Back to Church Sunday ” with us. Worship service will begin at 10:30 am. It is also Sunday school round-up that Sunday, so bring the kids to the Purple Park at 9:00 to get them registered and play some games.