After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.’
When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, got into a boat, and started across the lake to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The lake became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land towards which they were going. John 6:1-21
Yesterday we took a little adventure exploring nearby parts of New Hampshire. One of our stops was at a farm market that we have passed but never have entered in to. The sign above was next to their front door. It stunned me and filled me with joy, although many of the folks entering the store, never even stopped to look. They needed coffee or vegetables too much to slow down, or they were there so often they didn't even notice it. Yet for me, it is a sign that should be on every church, at every gathering, in every place we meet as followers of our loving Creator.
John's gospel tells the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand and walking on water. His telling of these tales are for people who did not walk with Jesus, nor did they know the disciples. They especially needed to hear that God's love and miracles were not just for those gathered on the grass that day, but for all people in all times. God's love is about making sure no one is left outside, no one is shunned or too broken. Nothing and no one is lost to the Creator. We are sought, we are loved, we are gathered up.
Today, I ask God to help me be fierce and committed about welcome and inclusion. May we all, who have known the love of being gathered up and welcomed, share that incredible welcome and love to those who are aching for inclusion, aching for miracles.