Abundant Life for All (1)
John 6.1-14. John (the evangelist) and Jesus both presenting a Gospel of Abundance:
John: through the details he gives us:
Large crowd looking for abundant life: 5,000 people - pastoral need immense. Following because they have seen the signs Jesus has done for the sick. Jesus the man of abundance and they follow because of that.
Climb the mountain - symbol of abundance given and revealed to people. Time of the Passover: the time of transformation, when the Israelites were liberated from slavery, freed from their enemies, brought from a situation of fear and apparently certain death into freedom and release. (The day of resurrection: HP 208)
Beginning of that holy time in the wilderness - time when the nation was established, covenant was established, relationship with God was established. Time of marvels, when they were fed with manna - the bread of heaven. Lived in their memory not as a time of deprivation and want, but as a time when God was with them, a time when they discovered the meaning of abundance/ the abundant life God wanted to give them/ the abundance God could and would deliver. (prophets)
This is what Jesus has come to give them:
“I have come that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10.10)
Jesus preached a Gospel of abundance, in word and deed: For the sick - healing. For the anxious - peace. For the imprisoned - freedom. For the burdened - relief, resilience. For the weary - rest. For the burned out - new enthusiasm. For the apathetic - something to believe in, commit to, make life worthwhile.
Where did this come from? Knowledge of the Father - from tradition, from his own experience, interpreted by love (Dear Lord and Father of Mankind).
Created for abundant life (Genesis 1.1-2.4).
Scripture full of people who were given a vision of abundance and who set out to discover it, to make it real.
Where there is no vision the people perish - not just any old vision - but the vision of abundant life that renews people. Abundant life, not just for one family, clan, people or nation, but for all.
Bible is the story of people gradually discovering this truth. That this is what God wants for us. This is God’s dream for all humanity. And that the people of God are those who know this and allow God to work within them and with them to make it real for all people.
That Gospel was already in peoples’ minds, he had only to remind them of it. Enable them to remember it. Help them to believe that it really was for them. And then their faith would do the rest. Enable them to trust. To act as if the story was real, the message was real, the abundance was real. And as they acted in that trust, so they would receive.
Made them sit down - encouraged stillness, patience, trust. Distributed the food, as much as they wanted. All were satisfied. Twelve baskets left over. This is an overflowing measure. People had seen another sign. Knew they were in the presence of a prophet.
For the moment, remain with this idea of abundance. Communion as God’s Feast of Abundant Life. God’s Feast of Transforming Life. Communion is many things - including a mystery - but I want us to think of it in two ways today. As vision, attitude and as process.
a) As a vision:
We are fed by images of abundance: deep in human psyche and culture.
Celebrate birthdays and other special occasions by giving gifts as symbols of abundant life. We celebrate with abundance - getting together, parties, feasting, dancing, laughter, music, joy.
Christmas - feast of abundance. Our uneasiness with it is because people become so fixated on the material forms of abundance that they have lost the art of celebrating the deeper forms that we also need - the abundance of heart and mind and soul and spirit. All that Christ offers, all that the coming of God with us offers.
When people are sick, we take them gifts and cards as symbols of the abundant life that we long for them to receive. Not that the flowers or cards or grapes will do them good in themselves. It is abundant life that will heal them - we take them symbols of that.
Wonderful human ability: when resources are scarce - to imagine abundance somewhere else. Vision: Imagine it, play with the idea, discuss it, enable others to visualise it, too.
Love - assuming a vision of abundance for oneself or another, and acting as if it is true.
Hope - when resources are scarce, a willingness to imagine abundance for all . The conviction that “things do not have to be like this”. Conviction that more/abundance is possible. That God wants us to have more. That abundance is achievable and that we can move towards it. That God will help us do this and will keep faith with us as we do this. A willingness to keep faith with this vision for each person, situation, community.
Faith - the willingness to believe that an abundant life is possible, and to act as if it is true, when necessary, ahead of the evidence. The willingness to put in place a process to generate abundant life, and to stay with the process despite fear and adversity.
organise ourselves to make the journey from where we are to where we long to be.
Think more about that, and how we do that, in the three other sessions today.
Question: for reflection during communion.
A House of Welcome