Feeding the People

One of the reasons that it’s so amazing to read the Old Testament is that it gives me such an amazing perspective of the New Testament.  Jesus new his followers were well aware of what had gone on before.   There are many times and places that he takes Old Testament occurences, sayings, and events and turns them upside down.  Often times we end up with this new appreciation of what he was all about, when take these things in context.

For example, it is well known how that Jesus fed thousands of his followers on two seperate occasions.  Recently, I heard a message preached about 2 Samuel.  In passing, it was mentioned that David lead this tremendous celebration when he brought the Ark of the Covenant home.  At the end of the celebration, David fed every man, women, and child there.

My brain made this connection between these two events.  I found myself wondering if Jesus wasn’t meaning to evoke memories of the whole thing.  The implications are fascinating if he was.

As you may know, the whole thing begins when the disciples got pretty nervous.  Thousands of people had traveled far to hear Jesus speak.  It was getting late.  Jesus followers encouraged their Master to send the people home so that they could get some food.  (Apparently their was no Starbucks around.)

Jesus said, “You feed them.”

The disciples all resisted this.  They said the same things I would say.  They simply did not have the money.

I wonder if the thing that David did was already floating around beneath the surface.   Were the disciples saying, “Look, it’s easy for David to have fed the people… But we’re not rich kings of Israel.  We’re just fishermen.”

I wonder if they were so busy being defensive that they missed the implication: Jesus was the new ark of the covenant.  There are tremendous similarities, of course, already: both are Earthly manifestations of God’s presence among His people.  But perhaps they weren’t ready for that.

And what happens next is such a great picture.  Through Jesus the disciples are equipped to do more than David did.  They get fishes and loaves out of thin air, unlike David, who (as far as we know) fed everybody simply by gathering together enough food for them.    But while David did this, in some sense, for God, the disciples do this through God.  They could not have done it with out Him.  It’s almost a metaphor: the idea that we need God in order to even approach God; our faith in Jesus is fueled by Jesus; this strange and wonderful nonsensical catch-22.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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