Story as the Meeting of Extremes
As documents, the Gospels reflect and encapsulate this “meeting of extremes”. Each is both a large narrative and many smaller stories, and at both levels the story not only tells us about Jesus, but demonstrates the very process it describes.
The vision of God’s abundant life is one extreme. Our awareness of our hunger, including the depths of suffering within us and around us, is the other. Ordinarily, we struggle even to hold these two extremes together in our minds, but within the story these opposed polarities can be brought together, in a manner which allows them to interact. And this interaction takes place in the present moment. Here and now, where we live.
In other words, while the story can tell us what happened then, in the past, when God in Jesus fed the Five Thousand, as we listen to the story and enter into it, the “meeting of extremes” is not between the abundance of God and the hunger of the crowd, but between the abundance of God and the hunger in my heart, in my context, in the situations I know about.
As we pay attention to the story, the story enables God to feed us, here and now. In listening, we face the truth of God - and the truth of ourselves. We receive the Word like bread in our hands. We pronounce a blessing or give thanks with every moment of celebration. We test - and prove - its power by acting on what we hear. In the process, we are fed by the story and energised by it. The Gospels perpetuate the “Way” of Jesus by giving us all we need to encounter God and follow the Son. The story itself. And in particular, this story, and all the other stories of how Jesus broke bread. As we enter into all it meant - and all it means - for Jesus to break bread, the extremes meet and the sparks fly.