Pastor Alanna McGuinn

This Sunday I will be reflecting on Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 as recorded in John 6. As I prepare for what I might say, my thoughts go to various summer crops many of us enjoy: fresh corn from Arnold’s or Spring Valley Market (no, I do not get free corn for mentioning them), lush tomatoes from our garden as well as new potatoes and green beans.

And as I sit down at our dinner table, I view a feast for a queen (that would be me) and give thanks for the One who provides it as well as the hands who grew it.

These regal thoughts remind me of the Old Testament lesson for the week, the infamous story of King David and Bathsheba. And I see a connection between Jesus feeding the crowds with a few fishes and bread and David satisfying his hunger for another man’s wife.

That connection is simply: Where does one go to satisfy one’s longings? Where do we find nourishment? What do we call nourishment?

The Old Testament lesson reminds the reader of many who have turned to sex, or drugs, or power, or whatever, hoping that would not only fill their emptiness but satisfy that longing as well.

Sadly, that does not usually work out as planned. If one continues to read the story of Bathsheba and David, one will find heartache after heartache. The emptiness returns. David cries out in abject misery to God and declares that he has sinned against God, God only. One might observe that nourishment is much more than bodily needs or desires.

I think the story of the feeding of the 5000 reminds the reader not only of the power of the God we serve but the love our Creator has for all. Knowing there was nowhere the crowds might go to find food, Jesus provides the food for them.

But Jesus gives much more than food for the bodies who were there. He gives a sense of security that he does provide for their needs. Matthew gives us more insight into this event.

He records that when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them and healed the sick. Jesus is meeting the needs of the whole person, physical and spiritual.

If we define nourishment as those things that enable us to continue to live and breathe; to keep the body going, then one might think that David’s actions were understandable; some might even be envious.

But if one thinks of nourishment as those things that bring life to both body and soul, then David’s actions may seem very narrow in scope and down right destructive for many. Surely, Uriah might agree.

So, do we go looking for a group on a grassy mound and ask if they will share their bread and fish? I think the answer is much more complex than that. While I agree, this time of the year there are many events being held outdoors; some on grassy knolls, no doubt.

But I would urge us to look not for a place but for the God of all Creation. Seek out the One who came in physical form to meet us where we are; to teach us by example how to worship our Creator and to live in harmony with each other and creation itself.

If we can do that, I would argue we will find nourishment in the beauty of a sunset, in Scripture, in our exchanges with friends and strangers alike, as well as in our summer bounty that grace our tables.

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