Hope – finding abundance in lacking

First Mennonite Church, Richmond, Va., has conducted a bread service the Sunday after Easter for 20 years. Five breads representing five themes are paired with five hymns. I shared this message.

Tumeric Bread: Hope

Mark 6:34-43

34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 35 When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; 36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish.”

Feeding the hungry is the only miracle in all four Gospels.

What does this mean?

It means helping the hungry, helping those without, is important. This miracle may be more important than any other miracle in the ministry of Jesus. Feeding the hungry. Helping those in need. Helping others.

In the scripture, the disciples approach Jesus believing they were lacking.

But then Jesus provides abundance.

He gives them hope.

The hope of the Israelites.

The hope of Dr. King for a better tomorrow.

The hope of our neighbors to be treated respectfully and with dignity.

Hope as our bodies weaken, and our spirits grow stronger. Hope when we are sick, on our backs, staring at the sky. Broken.

Broken like the body of Christ.

Broken like the bread.

Turmeric Bread: representing Hope.

Hope follows Jesus into a deserted place, without food for the journey. Hope is going on that journey with 12 empty baskets, and returning with the baskets filled.

Lacking and abundance.

There are times where we feel like there isn’t enough to go around. Not enough to make ends meet. Times when we are lacking. We aren’t good enough. We fall short. We lack what we need. We lack the energy, the faith, the character. We are empty.

Like the disciples we focus on what’s missing.

Like the disciples, we don’t realize there is abundance in God’s blessings.

Where we think there is lacking, God provides abundance.

Where there is doubt, God gives us a way forward.

Where there is fear, God provides strength.

Where there is guilt, God gives grace.

Where there is opposition, God offers optimism.

Where there is regret, God gives redemption.

Where there is fear, God gives us hope.

Christ gives us hope.

My hope is built on nothing less.

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

On Christ the solid rock I stand.

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