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Best of Daily Reflections: Finding God in All the Wrong Places: In the Midst of Lack

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”

John 6:9

This story of the loaves and fishes is the only miracle story of Jesus found in all four gospels. Each gospel writer frames this story in the context of the disciples’ concern that there is no food for the multitudes. It is late in the evening, they are in a deserted place, and the crowd numbers 5,000 men, not counting all the women and children. In John’s gospel Philip even says, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”

The disciples begin with a focus on scarcity: only five loaves and two fishes. But in the hands of Jesus, a small offering becomes a feast for multitudes. In the act of taking, blessing, breaking, and giving—the four-fold pattern of Holy Communion—Jesus creates a sacramental meal with a few loaves and fish. And through that sacred act, there is food for all—with 12 baskets left over.

When we give our lives over to God, to be “taken, blessed, broken, and given,” we become “living sacrifices.” In fact, many communion liturgies pray this when Christians gather at the table of our Lord. In what ways are you allowing your life to become a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1)? Perhaps there have been particular people in your life who have offered you this kind of Eucharistic hospitality. Take a few moments to name those times in your life when God’s grace has brought abundance out of lack. Then ask yourself: Have I been God’s instrument to bring abundance to others?

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: In I Timothy 6:18-19, Paul describes the abundant life that Jesus offers. He says if we are “rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, then we will take hold of the life that really is life.” Many of us are drawn to the Christian faith because we want to discover the “life that really is life.” What are the signs that your church shares in this “abundant” living? How are you, as a community, “rich in good works, generous, and ready to share”?

PRAYER: Most gracious and loving God, we know that you came in Jesus to give us life even more abundant than we can imagine. As we offer ourselves to be agents of your Eucharistic hospitality—to be taken, blessed, broken, and given for others—we experience most fully the abundance of your Kingdom. Give us courage, grace, and wisdom to trust you for the future. In the name of Him who gave his life for us. Amen.

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P.S. from Mark Roberts: Today, Rev. Susan Pendleton Jones continues a five-day series of Finding God in All the Wrong Places: In the Midst of Fear, Lack, Grief, Shame, and Hopelessness. All of us experience these places of pain and struggle at different times in our lives. Isn’t it wonderful that, as we read the stories of Jesus, we discover anew that God is already there in these hard places? He will not only walk with us through life’s most difficult times but will see us through—in unexpected and unimaginable ways. I'm delighted to welcome her as this week's "guest reflector," and I commend her reflections to you with enthusiasm. In her "day job," Susan is the Associate Dean for United Methodist Initiatives at Duke Divinity School. She and her husband, Greg, are great friends and partners of The High Calling.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge Youth Camp, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.

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