Who Brought the Bread?

Sometimes I am prepared. I know what is needed, and I have the clarity and energy to get it done. Other times, I feel like the disciples when they forgot to bring bread. Suddenly we are out in the middle of the sea and have only one loaf between us. 

Who has the spiritual gift of getting the groceries? Why didn’t we make a list? Focusing on their own shortcomings, the disciples heard “yeast” and thought they were in trouble. They discussed it and agreed. Jesus is calling us out.

I, too, get tripped up when I focus on what I lack. When I project my self-critique outward, mundane mistakes keep me from hearing what Jesus says. 

But shouldn’t Nathaniel have brought the bread? He’s the organizer. He knows where to get the best deals. We look around the boat, at those nearest to us, and notice theirshortcomings. A good distraction from our own sense of guilt.

Like the disciples, we discuss it amongst ourselves and assign blame accordingly. We assume Jesus is talking about our inadequacy and mistakes and inability to get it right.

But he wasn’t. He was talking about power. The seduction of authority. About institutions- religious and political. The danger of being influenced by those powers, or of joining them, or of becoming them. Which was the furthest thing from the minds of the hungry fisherman who couldn’t get organized enough to feed themselves or the lingering crowds. 

When I listen to Kevin’s teaching, to Ron’s teaching, and anticipate Karyn’s teaching this Sunday- I know they are talking about big picture stuff. Beyond individual purity of making sure we are right. They call our attention to institutions and power structures and theologies that damage us collectively. 

“Watch out and be on your guard for the yeast of the Pharisees as well as the yeast of Herod.” Mark 8:15b (CEB)

We are influenced by religious and societal structures that are often invisible to us. Doctrines of personal purity that leave little room to care for the other. Anti-semitism that corrupts our society and anti-Judaism that taints our theology. Racist structures and systems that we cannot see for their ubiquity. 

But I get distracted by worries about having enough. About whether I can provide for those depending on me. Or the people in the boat with me whose mistakes make us all look bad. 

Jesus knew what they were discussing and said, “Why are you talking about the fact that you don’t have any bread? Don’t you grasp what has happened? Don’t you understand? Are your hearts so resistant to what God is doing? Don’t you have eyes? Why can’t you see? Don’t you have ears? Why can’t you hear? Don’t you remember? When I broke five loaves of bread for those five thousand people, how many baskets full of leftovers did you gather?” Mark 8:17-19 (CEB)

I keep forgetting that I am not the one who provides the bread. Jesus knows that often we can’t even feed ourselves, let alone those he has called us to care for. My job is to show up. To listen. To help the people sit down, and to pass out the food. And then to collect all the broken pieces and gather them up. 

May our insufficiencies not impede our ability to listen and understand. May we remember that God is the one who provides the bread. Jesus multiplies it. And by the strength of the Holy Spirit, may we pass it out to others.

May we be less focused on ourselves, in order to hear what Jesus says about the dangers of power in our time. May our eyes be open to the systems that advance human agendas rather than God’s kingdom, and may we be able to hear and follow Jesus. 
Bulletin: 2/17
Order of Service: 2/17
Sermon: What Followers of Jesus owe the Jewish People

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