Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Deserted Place

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat." But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." They said to him, "Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?" And he said to them, "How many loaves have you? Go and see." When they had found out, they said, "Five, and two fish." Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray. Mark 6:30-46

Flying in from after a long day, I looked out the window as the plane was landing. It was a beautiful sight, the mountains, island and waters of Southeast Alaska. The vast unspoiled landscape is breathtaking. As we came lower and began to land, we could see the herring fleet out in the harbor, almost on top of the other, bringing in their catch, providing food and livelihood for so many. Hidden in what some might consider desolate places, is a bounty of God's grace where many can be fed.

Jesus is aware of the emotional and physical cost of ministry. He urges his followers to take the time away and the come with him. In the process, they are spotted and a crowd gathers. They do not turn them away but Jesus opens his arms and heart to them. There is no food and the little lunch or supper that is offered is ridiculously shy of the need. In that deserted place, hidden from their eyes, the power of God's love provided enough for all. Even when we are tapped out and weary, God provides the necessary strength and fuel in abundance.

Today I ask God for the strength and the fuel to serve others. We are often at our lowest ebb when we are asked to do more. May we know God's compassion and love as we serve God in our weakness. May we know God as we offer our small amount trusting that God will increase our poverty with God's loving abundance.

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