PASTOR BRAD'S PAGE
Pentecost 9B #2, July 25, 2021
New Covenant, Mark 6:30-44
“There Was Plenty”
A couple weeks ago, we read the story of John the Baptist’s execution at King Herod’s birthday bash. Immediately following that story, the very next story Mark records is today’s lesson, Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000. Mark places two feeding stories back-to-back, one hosted by Herod and the other by Jesus.
The picnic Jesus hosts is much different from the banquet hosted by Herod. Herod’s banquet is filled with Galilee’s elite, a select group of invited guests. Jesus’ picnic is filled with the broken and the lost. Everyone is welcome. They come as they are, no invitation is necessary. Herod’s banquet is a story of death, Jesus’ picnic is a story of life. Herod’s banquet is at a lavish palace, Jesus’ picnic is in a deserted place.
Even within today’s story, there are numerous contrasts. Jesus and his disciples sought to be alone, but instead are greeted by a large crowd. What they thought was a deserted place, was instead a place of abundance. Jesus’ disciples wanted to send everyone away, but Jesus said, “You feed them.” His disciples thought there was too little, but Jesus seemed to know there was plenty. This is the one similarity between both stories. There was plenty at both banquets. At Herod’s banquet, there was plenty of greed, envy, violence and revenge. There was plenty of selfishness and a competition for power At Jesus’ picnic there was plenty of love and plenty of mercy being served.
When it started to get late, the disciples’ first instinct is to send everyone away, to let everyone fend for themselves. The burden, the work, the cost, the responsibility of meeting the needs of everyone was too great and Jesus answered them, “You give them something to eat.” That’s when the Finance Committee joined the conversation. They asked, “Are we to buy 200 denarii worth of bread and give it to them?” In John’s version of this story, the Disciple Philip says, “Six months wages is not enough to feed everyone!” But Jesus responds, “Go and see how many loaves you’ve got.”
Then the Stewardship Committee goes out seeking donations. They make a plea for contributions and they collect 5 loaves and 2 fish. Jesus asks his disciples to gather the people and sit them in groups. He blesses and breaks the loaves. He divides the fish and after thousands eat and are filled, they collect 12 baskets of leftovers. Abundance is found in community, in community there is plenty.
A large crowd filled with much hunger and desperate for hope gathers together. Together, they become a community where everyone is nourished and filled. Together, they become a community where everyone’s needs are met. In this community Jesus creates, the leftovers, the food and the people are gathered up. None are insignificant, none are abandoned, everyone is invited and there is plenty. There is plenty of love, plenty of mercy for everyone. Amen.
Rev. Bradley A. Walmer,
a 2008 graduate of Lancaster Theological Seminary, where he received his Master of Divinity degree and was awarded the 2008 Rev. Delores Berry prize for preaching. He was ordained into Christian ministry by the Lebanon Association of the Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ on June 1, 2008. Prior to beginning his pastorate here at New Covenant on August 1, 2015, he served as the pastor of St. Paul’s Summer Hill UCC in Auburn, Pa (located southeast of Pottsville, PA).
Pastor Brad and his wife Michelle were born and raised in Lebanon County and now reside in the area with their dog, Barkley.