Yesterday we heard the story of the feeding of the 5,000.  Today is the 4th of July – a time for family and friends and picnics and fireworks to celebrate the heritage of our nation.  Yet this might feel like a major disconnect.  The miracle of Jesus feeding so many with so little, caring for the other, feels so different than the time we’re living in.  The heritage of our nation with all its hopes and dreams does not seem to match the reality and divisiveness in which we are living. Gun violence and access to semi-automatic weapons.  The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, creating a mishmash of access to reproductive health care.  The climate crisis and more and more extreme weather conditions.  Ongoing racial tensions and so much more. 

Photo by Luke Michael on Unsplash

How do we make sense of it?  How do we see God in our midst?  Should we celebrate or lament on the 4th of July?

In the story of the feeding the 5,000, a large crowd has gathered to hear Jesus teach.  They, like us, are seeking something.  They are hungry for hope, purpose, good news, leadership, love, caring for one another.  As the day gets late, the disciples in their practicality tell Jesus that he needs to send them home because they don’t have food to feed these masses.  Jesus doesn’t listen to this practical suggestion.  Rather he boldly proclaims that all will be fed.  He takes something tiny – the lunch of one boy – and sees the seeds of hope and promise.  And this kind of hope multiplies over and over again, until all have been fed and there are twelve baskets leftover! 

I encourage you to look for the hope in the midst of crisis.  It makes me think of Mr. Rogers and how he would tell kids in times like this to look for the helpers.  Find those who are loving and caring for others.  I didn’t realize as a child that the theme song “Won’t you be my neighbor?” encapsulates our call as Christians to love our neighbors as ourselves.  But Mr. Rogers did – and he put it into language and examples that kids and people of all ages could relate to. 

Let us pray, Gracious God on this 4th of July let us pause.  Let us reflect on the blessings you have given to us.  Help us to see hope.  Inspire us to love our neighbors as you first loved us.  In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.