Scripture: John 6:1-15
Key verse: (5) “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”
Reflection: The feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle other than the resurrection that is shared in all four gospels. Today’s gospel reading is John’s version of the story. This Sunday’s worship will focus on Mark’s version. Each gospel offers a unique element. In John’s version Jesus poses a test question to the disciples: “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” John even tells us, “He said this to test them for he himself knew what he was going to do.” Predictably, the disciples respond with an attitude of scarcity, “Six month’s wages wouldn’t be enough for each to get a little,” says Phillip, flunking the test. Apparently a boy was willing to offer what he had — another element unique to John — five loaves and two fish. And all are fed.
A story in Tuesday’s Charlotte Agenda offered a potentially modern version of this story. You can read it here. It details the development of the Mezzanine at Freedom project, an affordable housing development made possible by people offering what they could in response to the need for affordable housing in our community. Marsh Properties donated the 7.8 acres upon which the development is built. Covenant Presbyterian raised $2 million to help provide bridge financing. The city added $4.5 million from its Housing Trust Fund. It yielded 185 apartments, 129 of which are reserved for income-qualified renters at various levels of affordability. I think that’s miraculous.
The challenge of the story is found in the fact that over 1,000 people lined up to apply for those 129 income-qualified apartments. This reveals the incredible need we face in our community. Those 1,000 people are a visible representation of the shortage of at least 24,000 units of affordable housing in our community. Reading the story I felt Jesus’ question to his disciples posed in the context of our modern challenge. “Where are we to find housing for these people?” He says this to test us.
The end of the story details our efforts in partnership with Antioch Baptist and Grier Heights Presbyterian to support Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership’s development of a similar project in Grier Heights. Our leadership is hoping to be able to help with even more projects in the area. It’s our five loaves and two fish. Offering it to Christ, who knows what miracles may unfold?
Each day we face the challenges of a world too often defined by scarcity. And each day Christ poses the question to us: “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He says this to test us. May we have the faith to pass the test!
Prayer: In response to the challenges we face in our lives, in our relationships, and in our communities, help us, O God to trust in your power to provide. Give us faith to offer what we have in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].