Published on December 11th, 2019 | by Stephen Barrington0
Cures by the lake and the second miracle of the loaves, Matthew 15:29-37. December 4, 2019 by Buckshot
Nga mihi maioha e hoa ma, rangimarie ki a koutou katoa. Greetings to you friends, may peace be with you all. The church calendar has just rolled over to the beginning of a new year with the start of Advent the other day. Advent; that time of hopeful waiting and expectancy, when we prepare to receive and worship our saviour, Christ born as a vulnerable baby. Our gospel text today is Matthew 15:29-37, cures by the lake and the second miracle of the loaves.
Chapter 15 begins with Matthew telling us about some religious leaders coming up from Jerusalem to check Jesus out in Galilee. After a brief encounter, he hits the road for some Gentile towns further north. While there he heals a number of people and large crowds gather to follow him. They bring with them many sick and disabled people with them up onto a hill near Lake Galilee for today’s text.
The advent season is about hope, new beginnings and getting ready to welcome the baby Jesus into our world, into our lives again. There is plenty to be hopeful for as we read our text today. Matthew gives us way more than a glimpse into the Kingdom of Jesus in this text. Healings, miracles and provision of food for thousands of people stuck out in the wilderness.
So many of us feel stuck out in the wilderness as we watch our wider world seemingly unravel before our eyes. We see the wildfires and destruction in Australia, the Amazon, in California. We see the children dying from measles in Samoa, in our own land. We see the industrial wastelands in the west, the rust belt in the US, the former manufacturing towns in many countries being left to decay as people look for work elsewhere – sacrificed to the lust of corporations as they source cheap labour from Chinese gulags and other unwilling workers. Into this madness right now we seek hope for things to be better for our brothers and sisters, no matter where they live, and for ourselves also.
When the kingdom of God does appear on earth it always brings healing, miracles and sharing of resources. It is miraculous because it appears in the most unlikely places – having your needs met when you have billions is not miraculous, that is just ‘good business’. The kingdom appears when people agree together to believe that ‘with your bag of things and my bag of things, together we will have enough’. Jesus began his public ministry by asking us to ‘repent’, to turn around and believe the good news. To turn away from greed and self-seeking, away from the bad news of power. Today we see that good news happening. The people out there in the wilderness, in the apparent wasteland of gentile territory, choose to give up the little they had and share it. It is a simple but very hard thing to do – share and trust each other.
There is so much research that says there is more than enough land and resources to feed everyone in the whole world. Yet, we watch on feeling powerless as those with lots seem to keep it to themselves. The world is on fire right now and getting hotter – but there is hope.
This advent, filled with hope and expectation I pray that I can trust you to share, and that you can trust me to also. Sharing is amazing at building communities of solidarity. But, may we take another step and consider the power we actually do have in the wilderness. Our three or four yearly attempts at exercising power by voting seems to be worthless as lobbyists pressure our governments to do what most of us don’t seem to want. We do have real power though everyday with how we spend our money, with what products we buy (or don’t) and who we choose to spend our time with.
Out in the wilderness, away from government and corporate power, there is the real possibility of a new world being born, of the kingdom of God becoming real. Let’s look to live in the way of Jesus, in the place of Jesus in the marginal wilderness and expect that his kingdom will appear as a result. This is faith and hope. This is the way to see all our brothers and sisters cared for, fed and included.
As advent continues may we prepare ourselves again to receive this radical King, born in vulnerability, who offers good news in our wilderness.
Buckshot – Wellington chapter, New Zealand
PS- for those looking for daily inspiration and challenge during advent check out Steve Barrington’s Advent reflections here