When we left the disciples last week they had set off to preach and heal carrying with them a stick and a cloak. This week they have returned to Jesus and all of them are in the boat heading to the other side for a time to reflect and reconnect with each other and God. As they reach the other side, the crowds have followed and are waiting and Jesus has compassion for the crowds. This compassion isn't just being moved. The word is splagchnizomai - literally having one's guts be torn open (Ched Myers, Binding the Strongman). Jesus is torn open for the people. He is moved to see that they are like sheep without a shepherd. And this moves him deeply.
At that point the disciples come up to him and tell him to send the crowds away. They are worried it's late and the people have no food. Send them into the surrounding villages. Jesus says: You feed them. You feed them. I wonder who we are like. We see a need, there is something that needs to be done. And we go to our pastor, the social worker we know and say you need to do something. You need to start a new ministry for kids, a book group, a bible study. You need to bring more families into the church. You need to start a food pantry. You need to do something about those teenagers with no place to go. Yet, what Jesus is speaking to us this morning is a word about our obligations. When we see a need, Jesus says you feed them. When we feel a nudge from God, our moved by a problem, You Feed Them.
The disciples, like us, are a little taken aback by this. How can we feed them? It would take a years wages to feed this crowd. We don't have that. The disciples get a little defensive. They say we don't have enough resources. They have forgotten they are with the one who has showed them that God's kingdom has broken through and there will be enough. Jesus to turn them from their defensiveness asks them to look and see what they have available. They come back to him with some bread and fish. He has the disciples sit the crowd down in groups. Then he blessed the bread and fish and they begin to eat. There is enough for everyone to be satisfied. When God shows us a need, we will be led to a way for the need to be filled. We won't be left on our own. The kingdom will open before us for that need to be filled.
This past week I heard God say: You feed them. As you know all month long we have been collected school supplies for families in need in the community to be given out at the district offices. As I shared with you last week their supply room is bare. I asked you to bring more supplies this week. I took the supplies we had collected to the administration building and was told that the shelves were bare. She was so grateful that she hugged me. I came back to my office and sat down and sent an email to the area pastors. And then God multiplied the loves and fishes. First I found school supplies outside my office door. Then I began hearing back from the pastors. The methodist church will do a drive. The Lutheran church will bring the supplies left from their event and put a note in the newsletter. From a friend at the Catholic church I received this note:
There will be supplies coming from our school. The secretary and I felt for sure that the families would respond generously with a drive for them. I spoke to a pastor at the small church in Genoa city and she was interested to hear of the need and wanted to help. There is a year round need. I was giving out the vouchers from our church when a poor family came in looking for school supplies. The only problem is that we had given them finacial help in June.. So there is a 6 month wait... They had tried to get supplies from the Administration Offices. Same as you said...nothing there. I knew this family and the reality of their mother's injury, so I took care of them myself. I can't very well go around asking other when I haven't looked into my own heart. I'll also send out some emails to people who might help. Wanted you to know that your message is bearing fruit.She emailed me later that night to say she already got the response how much do you need.
You Feed Them...
You Feed Them.
When we hear those words: You Feed Them... we never know how much God will bless us when we act to bring forth God's Kingdom here and now.