Remembering Times of Not Enough

Many of us remember this miraculous story of bread and fish multiplied for the multitudes. We can join the crowd on the mountainside with Jesus and feel the intensity of the collective physical and spiritual hunger. What is Jesus wanting to embody to his disciples and followers on this day? With the season of Passover hovering about them, it seems Jesus is helping each one remember those days in Egypt when "not enough" reigned:
- not enough bricks
- not enough rest
- not enough food
- not enough time
- not enough worship
- not enough peace
- not enough grace
- not enough hope
- not enough love

Perhaps they could feel "not enough" in their bellies again. The spaciousness of the mountainside, the expansiveness of the sea, the tenderness of the grass and the responsiveness to the hunger vividly contrasts with the narrowness of Pharaoh's Egypt.
Eat the "broken bread" afresh this day. Taste God's goodness. Notice what satisfies your hunger.

John 6:1-15 (NIV)
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

For your reflection and prayer:
As you listened, was there a word, a phrase, an image, or something else that stood out to you? Notice what it stirs in you. Have a conversation with Jesus about this.

Place yourself in the story and enter into it as it unfolds. Who are you? Who is interacting with you and around you? What are you seeing, smelling, sensing, hearing, touching? Write about your experience in the story and allow it to be your prayer.

Slowly savor any consoling words or images which God gives you in this time of prayer. Simply rest in God’s presence with them.

Involving Jesus in Our Shame

John chapter 2 begins with a dramatic scene of the miraculous: water stored within ceremonial vessels becomes wine. Astonishing! This story invites further exploration with its many layers of metaphors. It is rich with community, family, friends, cultural norms and customs with threads of shame woven through it. The text invites us to prayerfully place ourselves into the story and allow it to unfold and intermingle with the themes in our own story. What do you want Jesus to know about your shame? What might happen if we ask Jesus to become involved in our personal or communal shame? Listen in to what Jesus tells you.

John 2:1-12 (NLT)
The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. 3 The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”
4 “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
5 But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, 8 he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions.
9 When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. 10 “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”
11 This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
12 After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Were you drawn to anyone in particular in this story-text? How might they have been feeling? How are you feeling? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

A Place of Great Abundance

The great teachers remind us that abundance is not situational, transactional, or a destination. Abundance is something which happens within us. The overflow of our heart is praise and gratitude to God. As you enter into prayer with this text, come and see what our God has done.
            Open our eyes God to see what you have done.

Psalm 66:1-12 (NLT)
Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth!
2     Sing about the glory of his name!
    Tell the world how glorious he is.
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    Your enemies cringe before your mighty power.
4 Everything on earth will worship you;
    they will sing your praises,
    shouting your name in glorious songs.” Interlude
5 Come and see what our God has done,
    what awesome miracles he performs for people!
6 He made a dry path through the Red Sea,
    and his people went across on foot.
    There we rejoiced in him.
7 For by his great power he rules forever.
    He watches every movement of the nations;
    let no rebel rise in defiance. Interlude
8 Let the whole world bless our God
    and loudly sing his praises.
9 Our lives are in his hands,
    and he keeps our feet from stumbling.
10 You have tested us, O God;
    you have purified us like silver.
11 You captured us in your net
    and laid the burden of slavery on our backs.
12 Then you put a leader over us.
    We went through fire and flood,
    but you brought us to a place of great abundance.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What word, phrase, image, or feeling caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer. Journal your conversation.

Can you name an emotion which you felt as you heard these words? Where do you feel it in your body? Without judging it, can you bring it before God in prayer?

Reflect on your own experiences of trials and abundance. Is there anything from them which you want to talk over with God?

Wonder and Amazement

Days pass, and the years vanish, and we walk sightless among miracles.
A Jewish Prayer

What can help us deepen in attentiveness to the miracles that occur each day, all around us and within us?  We often are so focused on our own agenda, issues, fears, or circumstances that we are not able to see the wonder in and of the present.

In the following story the disciples were described with the words their hearts were hardened; they couldn't see or have understanding about the miracle that occurred right in front of them, in which they participated. They couldn't "make sense" of who was in their midst. The story progresses and as their sight increases, their understanding deepens. God was there even when they didn't recognize it.

Pay attention to moments of wonder, of awe, of amazement, of peace. They can come in the middle of a crowd or in the height of a storm. Cultivate your sense of seeing and becoming more attentive to what God is doing.

Mark 6:45-56 NIV
Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there.  As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus.  They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.  And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

For Prayer and Reflection: 
What did you hear or feel as you listened?  A word? A phrase?  A sensation? 

How are the people, including the disciples, seeing and responding to Jesus?  What do you think it means, “their hearts were hardened?” 

Have you experienced this kind of hardening of your heart?