Tuesday, February 3, 2009
"If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way because some of them have come a long distance." Mark 8:3
In 1997, I helped with a service in Jamestown, Virginia. We were anticipating the 400th anniversary of the official arrival of the Anglican Church on these shores and planning a decade of preparation to reflect on the relationship between our church and native peoples. It was a powerful day, and a long day with many speakers from near and far. We had started early on a cold November morning and as midday passed and we continued on, folks were getting restless and hungry, but no one said a word. Finally, one of the elders, Virginia Snow said her few words and then added, "I'm keeping this short, I'm getting hungry!" The service ended right quick after that. And we all went on to feasting and conversation. There was tremendous power in the service and in her honesty.
Jesus had been teaching the people and they were getting ready to go when he asked his disciples to find them something to eat. We know this setting as the beginning of a great miracle - the feeding of the 5000. Jesus, in his great compassion and mercy, did not send people away to fend for themselves, but invited the small amount to become food for all. Power derived from mercy and compassion. Honest need met a compassionate, loving Savior, who did not downplay the need, but found a way to satisfy each and everyone of them. God's road is a mercy road, a way that finds food and fulfillment for all those who have come so far.
Today, I want to travel with Jesus and live a life of compassion and mercy. I want to be about putting the very human needs of others as a central part of my daily walk. I want to be aware that too often, folks are sent home empty and collapse along the way. May we all take mercy and compassion as central to our lives as followers of Christ, knowing that in the sharing of a simple glass of water, a loaf of bread, a small bit of fish, miracles await.