Seventeenth Sunday in Kingdomtide – July 26, 2015

John 6:1-15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
A large crowd followed him,
because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.
Jesus went up on the mountain,
and there he sat down with his disciples.
The Jewish feast of Passover was near.
When Jesus raised his eyes
and saw that a large crowd was coming to him,
he said to Philip,
“Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”
He said this to test him,
because he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him,
“Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough
for each of them to have a little.”
One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”
Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.
So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples,
“Gather the fragments left over,
so that nothing will be wasted.”
So they collected them,
and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves
that had been more than they could eat.
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said,
“This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off
to make him king,
he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

Large events like town or parish festivals, Komen benefit runs, and other charity functions… There is usually a team with a chairperson that organizes these events. Yet there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people show up to get in on the fun and action. Have you ever wondered how these events happen, when it appears impossible to make such events happen with only a few people organizing them? My previous parish’s youth group wanted to put on an annual event for the parish community, and as an adult leader for the youth ministry, I was part of the planning committee. Being part of a planning team for the inaugural event, I can tell you that it is not easy getting things off the ground. We had a budget and very little other resources, and we were reconsidering whether to have the event at all because the youth leaders were not sure it could be done. We were asked, “How can 15 of us make this happen?” The paid youth minister suggested the youth brainstorm about how to get additional resources, and that necessarily did not mean money. What he was trying to convey to them that the parish community was excited about the youth wanting to put on this event; so there were adults in the community that were willing to help. The event committee went from 15 being involved to 50; people working at the food tent, people setting up and taking down tables, and attendees even donated money to make it a success. Over 500 people came to the event, and with what donations were given, the youth group had money to put toward the event the following year.

Applying this to us… Ministry is often rewarding yet it can be very difficult, especially when there are only a few in ministry but so many need to be ministered to. We, as the UOCC, have seen many challenges in order to be effective in building the Kingdom, yet so much has happened to minister to others. The Church is small yet global, and growing by the grace of God. We have a presence, especially with Facebook and different broadcasted Media. Yet is there something missing? Are the clergy and people in formation taking it all on? Are there so many more people being missed? The laity that is out there is a great resource, and are we inviting them to get involved in things other than “liking” our posts on Facebook? I believe God was working through the youth minister to empower the youth, just as Jesus fed the 5000 through obtaining the resources to make it happen. God will provide the opportunity for growth if we take the time to understand how to utilize resources available to us. If we take on all of the ministry, we may get burned out.