Series B                             Pentecost IX   July 29, 2012

John 6:1-21

“Mirrored In The Miracle”

A teen-age girl was once asked: “What do you do when you see a pretty face?”  “Oh”, she responded, “I lay the mirror down and rest a while, and then I pick it up and look again.”  Looking into a mirror can be a self-centered activity, an exercise in conceit.

It can also be a humbling experience.  A zoo once had a sign that read, “This Way To The Most Dangerous Species On Earth”.  People rushed to see what it was and found themselves looking into a mirror.  As you hear in the news, day after day, of the terrible things that people do to one another, like that shooting in Aurora, Colorado, you can understand that human beings are dangerous.  It is not always pleasant for people to face themselves in a mirror.

But looking into a mirror can be a profitable experience.  Often we cannot know how we look or see what is behind or beside us without a mirror.  Today’s Gospel suggests that we can see ourselves mirrored in a miracle.  A large crowd came to see and hear Jesus beside the Sea of Galilee.  So eager were they to get to him that they gave no thought to what they would eat.  What’s more, Jesus and his disciples didn’t begin to have enough money to cover the cost of feeding so many.

Still, Jesus fed them, more than 5,000 of them, with just five barley loaves and two fish, and then gathered up 12 baskets full of leftovers.  So much, for so many, from so little: that’s a miracle.  We should be able to see the faces of people mirrored in that miracle.

We should see the faces of hungry people mirrored in that miracle.  The people by the Sea of Galilee weren’t starving, but they were hungry.  As we look at those thousands of hungry faces, we should see mirrored there the faces of millions of people who are starving to death today.

While 5,000 were fed that day by the Sea of Galilee, The World Health Organization reports that more than that many children die every 3 hours, totaling over 41,000 children dying every day from starvation  That is about 15 million children dying every year from hunger alone.

In round numbers there are about 7 Billion people now living on this planet.  1.7 Billion of them are hungry, trying live on $2.00 a day.  That’s about one in four people, while the world’s 358 billionaires have assets exceeding the combined annual incomes of countries with 45 percent of the world’s people according to UNICEF.

All such people are mirrored in this miracle.

So are those who hunger for more than food.  The hunger that marked those thousands of people to whom Jesus ministered that day by Galilee, is a symbol of a deeper hunger that bread alone cannot satisfy.

A church leader who witnessed first hand the famine in Ethiopia, wrote on his return that though he had seen people suffering, he also saw another kind of hunger: people were filling every church to capacity.

People are starving for what bread and fish cannot give.  People are starving for peace, for the assurance of a right relationship with God.  St. Augustine wrote: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.” How many gather in our churches today because they are starving for peace with God?

People are starving for forgiveness.  People are starving for comfort, not creature comforts, but release from pain.  People are starving for hope because the bottom seems to have dropped out of their lives.  Who knows how many they are in this world economy: but they are all mirrored in the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

Sharing people are also mirrored in the miracle.  There are two, possibly three, examples in the Gospel.  The first was the boy with the loaves and fishes.  He was hungry, and he could have kept them all to himself.  But He gave them to the disciples who gave them to Jesus.  Then there was Jesus himself, and his disciples who served as his instruments of sharing.  Jesus became the host of the meal and shared until everyone had enough.

There is something beautiful about people who share.  They give without any guarantee of something in return.  If that little boy had not given Andrew his loaves and fishes, there would have been no miracle.  If the disciples had not turned it over to Jesus, and kept it for themselves, there would have been no miracle.  Jesus needs our generosity and faith for his miracles to be experienced.

There is something beautiful about people who share.  Mother Theresa told of a Hindu family with 8 children who had not eaten for some time to whom she took some rice.  She saw the children’s faces “shining with hunger”.  The mother took the rice from her and divided it into two equal parts; took one part with her and up and left.  When she returned, Mother Theresa asked her where she had been.  She explained that their neighbors, a Muslim family with many children, were hungry too; she had shared with them.

That loving act changed the faces of the children.  When Mother Theresa arrived, their faces told her they were hungry; by the time she left, they were “shining with joy” because they were able to share.  That’s the way it is with people who share.  They give not merely what they have left over, not only what they can spare.  They really share, and they can smile about it because there is joy and beauty in that.

Because people are starving for more than bread, there is more to be shared.  We need to share the Gospel with people in our community, and people around the world.

We stand with that little boy and share through our offerings every Sunday to support all the ministries of St. John’s, and to support those who minister in foreign lands in the name of Christ.

Finally, satisfied people are mirrored in the miracle.  All had as much as they wanted that day; they were satisfied.  Could that happen today — that all the world could eat and be satisfied?  That would take a miracle.  But God deals in miracles.  Perhaps God only needs you and me to be willing to share to implement that miracle.

Can you see yourself as part of such a miracle?

Imagine the thrill, and excitement of that little boy.  Can’t you just see him running home and shouting, “Mom, Dad, do you know what happened today?”  All because he shared!

There are people who are satisfied because the Lord and others share.  Our Kathryn’s Kloset, has been in existence for almost a year 1/2 and is just one of many St John’s  ministries that exists because we have members willing to share.

And this Gospel miracle is also a picture of what happens in Communion as the Lord imparts to each of us his body and blood, just as he blessed and distributed those fish and loaves.  Because he is present, he can minister to all the starving souls who come to his altar rail.

Through his word, he speaks to those starved for peace.  “My peace I give to you” (John 14:27)  To those thirsting for forgiveness comes the assurance that his blood was shed for all people “for the forgiveness of sins”.  To those starved for comfort, he says,

“I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, though they die, will live”  (John 11:27)

Those for whom the bottom seems to have dropped out of life, he can point to the open tomb.  Good Friday appeared to be the end for him too.  But Easter morning tells a different story.

Jesus came to satisfy us by sharing, and to transform us, that we might find satisfaction in sharing with others who are hungry.  When you look into this miracle can you see yourself mirrored there?  It’s worth looking into.                                          AMEN