The Man of Abundance (1)

The Man of abundance travelled throughout the land, to every city and village, teaching the people wherever they gathered, and everywhere proclaiming the good news from God: that God loved them and that it was God’s desire that all should enjoy abundant life. He not only shared the message, he also acted as if it was true, curing every disease and every sickness. For when he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them. They were so anxious, so weighed down by burdens. They seemed to have no power to help themselves.

“But it doesn’t have to be like this,” he told his disciples, “God’s resources are infinite. They are boundless – vast – beyond our imagination. They are like a harvest, ripe and ready to be gathered. There is enough for everyone. More than enough. An overflowing measure. Enough for all, enough for each. Enough for evermore. And it is already given. All we need to do is to find a way to distribute it.”

“What shall we do, Lord?” asked the disciples.

“Pray,” said Jesus, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to give us people willing to gather and share the abundance he has provided.”

“Where will the people come from?” they asked.

“God will call them,” said Jesus, “God will call them by name.”

So they prayed. And while they were praying, Jesus called twelve of his disciples to him, summoning each by name, and asked them to share in the work of sharing the Good News of abundant life for all.   Each one was astonished, because they had assumed that God would call someone else.

“But what shall we do?” they asked.

“Do what I have done,” he replied. “Heal the sick. Cast out fear. Proclaim God’s plenty. Give.”

“How can we do that?” they asked, “We do not have your power.”

“You have everything I have,” he replied, “You have received the abundant life of God. Remember that. You have heard me call you my friends. Remember that. You have seen me turn five loaves and two fish into a feast. Remember that. You have the abundant life of God. Go out and share it.”

And so the twelve did as he told them. They went out to share what he had given them. Burning hearts and empty hands.

Today - because Jesus is here. The Man of Abundance. Who teaches us about abundant life, shows us God’s vision of abundance for all, and shows us how to make it real. Jesus makes the promise of God present. Up close and personal. Makes it real. Brings it close to us. Invites us to receive it. Shows us how to enjoy the good things God gives.

 

 

The Art of Abundance

Psalm 36.5-9; Ephesians 1.3-22; Mark 1.9-15.

Isaiah 40.25-31, Hymns & Psalms 48.

Abundance is generated by faith. The process of creating abundance is a process of acting in faith. Faith is the way to abundant life, and the greatest practitioner and exponent of faith is the Jesus of the Gospels. The one who, in John’s Gospel, describes himself as “the way, the truth and the life” is our best model of this process of using faith to create abundance and abundant life[1]. He is our teacher, example and inspiration. This was his message, his means and his mission: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”[2].

[1] John 14.6

[2] John 10.10

When society became more complex, this way of thinking (see Water of Life) was applied to the person who stood at the centre of the web, at the place from which all the power flowed, the king. And to Zion, the city at the heart of the realm. Each came to symbolise the single source from which everything else derived, and on which everything else depended. In the king, or in Jerusalem, was vested the power to command events, establish the conditions of life, ensure plenty, display magnificence, and generate renewal. In practice, it wasn’t that simple, but that was how people thought, and this way of thinking governed what they imagined, wanted, expected. (2008)

 

 

Authoritative spiritual leadership

sick will seek out a doctor

troubled people in troubled times

search for a leader who is able to connect them

to the Source of life

give us life in a form fitted to our need

convert the grace of God

into the specific forms of energy that will feed us

the resources which will strengthen us

to face the challenge of the moment

practical assistance

emotional support

creative strategies

the resolution to persevere

framing the question

that will clarify our vision

possess a specific combination of awareness, gift and skill

a wisdom that does not depend on formal education

professional training

academic attainment

status, wealth, political connections

class, gender, age, race or creed

know where abundance is to be found

how it can be accessed

how it can be shared by all

point the way

authority rests on ability to show us

where life is given

how it is given

knowing “where we are”

how it feels to be “where we are”

and how we can travel to “where we want to be”

what we must do to make the journey

how we will be fed along the way

where we will find the resources we need

that what we are given will be enough

life-givers: “man of abundance”

proclaim the presence or possibility of life

equip us and empower us to find it

proclaim life in a way that is itself life-giving

good news because by their attitude

and their actions

give us the strength we need

to follow the way they proclaim

articulating our situation

anticipating our reaction

so that we can see clearly the difficulties we face

the resources we have available

and make a decision that takes us forward

imagery and story

rational argument

enable us to respond to a challenge

with the whole of ourselves

marshal our energies

by addressing our emotions

imagine the “way of the Lord”

as a journey with a destination

which will make all the travelling worthwhile

draw on experiences of

inspiration, creativity, adventure and sacrifice

relate these to the journey as a whole

show them this is the royal road

from oppression to freedom

from poverty to plenty, from fear to faith

from despair to the enjoyment of abundant life

abundance not only given at the end of the journey

also provided along the way

in a form that is suited to our need

for al not just for the “important”

anywhere, even in the most hostile environment

how we can travel from

where we are to where we want to be

the steps we need to take

empower us to take them

know the road

have a strategy

can draw us a map

practise what preached

preaching “go deep”

way from their present situation of dearth

towards the promise of renewed plenty

credible assurance that all needs will be provided

– and more

perceived availability of resources

have this assurance if we are to travel at all

know reassurance needed at every stage

- and give it

basic need to know

where the next meal is coming from

Knowing this

– or being able to trust that our leader knows this

- makes that day’s trek possible

possible to imagine

possible to achieve

more arduous our journey is likely to be

more we will be concerned about the level of provision

being made for us

 

 

“Where is this man coming from?” What is the source of his delusions or dreams? What is his point of origin for what he believes? Who is he? Are his claims true? By what right does he assert these things, do these things? Source, origin, claim, identity and authority are wrapped up together. Christ’s authority – and our security – lies in the action of the Father, in the love of Christ, and Christ’s stated intentions towards us, in the words that have been spoken, as prophecy, and in the consistency between God of Moses and the God of Jesus.

Even when we recognise our need of bread, we can baulk at what it is asking of us, because it ties us to the way of obedience. But if the way is hard and costly it is the way of ultimate safety, which is not the same as immediate, apparent or worldly security. Our ultimate safety lies in the assurance that Jesus never drives anyone away, never loses those who come to him, but gathers them up, like those twelve baskets of crumbs, so that any and all who believe should be raised up at the last day.

Jesus is only doing what is natural to him, as the Son of a loving, generous and powerful Father. We are drawn to Jesus by the Father: Jesus sees us as his Father’s gift to him, his Father’s trust placed in him. When our fear causes us to complain, it is because we measure him by our estimations of ourselves and our deserving.   We think we know him because we know facts about him, but it is our fear that asks for facts, proof, signs. Only when we place our trust in God first, is faith followed by understanding. And wisdom grows through exercising faith.

The bread of life is food that binds us to Jesus as we walk his road - through fear to faith, through life and death to everlasting life. The bread is an image of Christ’s giving of himself, and of the Church’s gift of itself. Our gift of ourselves. Like our Lord, we too are given as bread for the life of the world.

 

 

acknowledging our emotional response

they help us do the same

showing us our wounds

they help us towards healing

enabling us to see our strength

encourage us invest it wisely

showing us “who we are”

“where we are”

“what we face”

and “what we can use”

they empower us to do what needs to be done.

potential demonstrated by particularly severe cases:

- a Legion of unclean spirits 5.1-13

- the revival of a child who has just died,

and the healing of a woman who has

     been bleeding for twelve years

on the same occasion 5.21-43

understands “where we want to be”

demonstrates this by

helping us imagine and articulate the abundant life

we want for ourselves, our communities and our world.

“wilderness journey” specific end:

the promised land

the place where life would be abundant

“flowing with milk and honey”

keep the peoples’ “eyes on the prize”

encouraging them to face

the difficulties and dangers of the road

 

 

 

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