Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Abundance in the Wilderness

Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan. Matthew 15:29-39

In these lean times, it can be very practical and sometimes necessary to cut budgets and limit spending. Unfortunately, the budgets that get cut in most churches are not the maintenance but the outreach. Bricks and mortar can be so demanding that we forget who we are called to serve. In Native ministries, we always function on extremely limited budgets and are often first cut from budgets. And yet, there is joy among those who seemingly have little because God has blessed us with an abundance of hospitality and community.

Jesus finds himself surrounded by need. People with broken bodies come to him for healing. The people were amazed and continued all day to bring their wounded family members, the ones they thought had no hope, the child they thought might never thrive - all these came to him for the healing touch of God. And Jesus, who healed them all also understood he could not send them away empty and hungry. He looked at the smaller needs as important as the big ones. The small offering of a few small loaves and fish became enough for the entire crowd, with leftovers. And so it is with all we do when God is with us. We may start with the smallest amount, and we seem to have little to offer, but if we give what we have, God will provide the increase and even the abundance.

Today, as I travel and make ready for the days ahead, may I have joy in knowing that there will be more than I can imagine, and that God will provide all that we need in the coming days. May we offer ourselves freely, and may we offer what we have, no matter how small our gifts might seems, joyfully expecting that God will find a way to fill the needs of the people. May we remember that we are called to offer what we have, and God has promised to bless our offerings beyond reason and imagining for the blessing of the whole world.

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