All four Gospels record the miracle of the loaves and fishes, no doubt because it appeals to the ever present human question, "is there really enough to go around?" This coming Sunday preachers will wrestle with Jesus' words, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat" (Matthew 14:16). Some interpreters see the multiplication of the five loaves and two fish as creatio ex nihilo, like the miracle of creation itself.
Others see a miracle of inspiration; persons are inspired by Jesus to share what they have so that each has what is needed. One person started the pattern by offering his lunch to Jesus, and soon all are fed with plenty to take home as leftovers! It is a story of abundance.
One of the best aspects of my work is the opportunity to visit churches and say thank you for their participation in Central's mission. Yesterday I was the guest preacher at Big Canoe Chapel, where Central board member Lamar Helms serves as associate chaplain. Clearly, he is a beloved pastoral leader, devoting himself to worship planning, music, and pastoral care. He has a way of calling forth the best from others, even as he demands excellence of himself.
This is a unique congregation; it is comprised of persons from varying faith traditions, and thus is "multidenominational" in its identity. It provides ways for non-Christians to participate in affiliative ways, also. More concerned to find ways to include rather than be defined by doctrinal conformity, the gathered people of God are flourishing there.
Each year the mission committee looks over many requests to choose what ministries the congregation will support. I am grateful that Central is among those receiving generous funds for our mission, and I was able to interpret the impact of their gift. Interestingly, every person who had some sort of a Kansas connection came by to shake hands and ask about our location. I trust we will get some visitors as they come through.
Another recipient of the Chapel's mission funding was present. The Luke Project supports inner city kids from Atlanta for a week of camp in the lovely mountain environs of Big Canoe. About 20 of them were in worship, and I gave thanks for the respite provided by this generous congregation. I sensed that this was a long term commitment, and it is surely a transformative initiative.
Sharing our resources has a multiplying effect, and God can extravagantly spread them around. We need only open our hearts to the need of others; opening our wallets and purses will soon follow.
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.
**** JESUS MAFA. Jesus multiplies the loaves and fish, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48287 [retrieved July 28, 2014].