Sunday 19 July 2015

Bible Book:

“Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples to set before the people” (v. 41)

Mark 6:30-56 Sunday 19 July 2015

Psalm: Psalm 23


This familiar account from Mark's Gospel of the feeding of fivethousand people is set against the background of John the Baptist'srecent execution by Herod (Mark6:17-29) and the disciples recently returning from much work(Mark 6:7-13). Jesus calls his disciples away toa quiet place where they might find. When they arrive they find thecrowds there waiting for them. "…. and he had compassion for thembecause they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began toteach them many things" (v. 34) - perhaps here in Mark, Jesus takeson the mantle of John 'the baptiser'.

As the day wears on after much teaching the disciples ask Jesusto disperse the crowds, surprisingly Jesus asks them to find foodfor them. They resort to talk of money and scarcity rather thantheir own personal resources (verse 37).

Jesus blesses the small resources of food that are found and theslender gifts are distributed miraculously. Mark's account echoesin many ways the story of God providing manna from heaven whenpeople were complaining that they had been led into the wilderness- out of comfort and safety to starve (Exodus16). This echo of the past seems in part to be a messianicaction indicating Jesus's relationship with God and God'speople.

At times I can identify with the disciples' need to hide awayfrom the crowds to find rest, times when I have been to lead anevening group and really feel too tired to do it, but curiously ablessing comes from others which feeds me and tiredness is blownaway.

I have often seen groups of people who are reluctant to sharethoughts and ideas, often feeling 'no one wants to hear myexperience or ideas'. I have always felt that other people's ideasare sometimes better than my own, that I learn far more from whatothers might say. If the leader or facilitator of the group'blesses' the ideas of individuals, there is a sense that theperson feels involved and included, and that others may feel moreready to speak. For me often the best way of learning is throughgroup discussion because the sum total of what may be learned isgreater than all the individual contributions; also new thoughtscan be mysteriously drawn from our experience, by what has beensaid before.

Blessing those contributions also means that nothing has beenwasted; every contribution, no matter how humble, may be giventime. The amount that was left over as waste is another indicatorof God's bounty; there was not just enough but far more thanenough.

To Ponder

  • How often do you go to a meeting or study group with your ownpacked lunch or expectations or agenda rather than looking forwisdom in others? How might you change this?
  • How much credence do you give to other people's experience nomatter how humble? Or do you trample on others' precious offerings?Again how might you modify our behaviour?
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