Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Mystery of Miracles

One of the Lectionary texts for this Sunday is from the Gospel of John, the story of Jesus feeding the multitude and then walking on water. While we won't read this one in worship on Sunday, it's worth reading John 6:1-21 on your own.

In September, we'll be starting up our "Spirit:Uncorked" gatherings again at Corks & More. For those who have not joined us before, we often reflect on some quotes and/or questions about a particular topic and talk in pairs or small groups. This week, I invite you to find a friend or family member (or maybe even someone you don't know!) to reflect on these quotes and questions about miracles. Comment on this post to share your thoughts!

Focus Scripture
John 6:1-21

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?" He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, "Six months' wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?" Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost." So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world."

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

Focus Questions

1. How would you define a "miracle"?

2. What are your expectations of God?

3. What is the difference between abundance and excess?

4. What is the "success" we hope for in our life of faith, as individuals and as congregations?

5. What makes a person, or a church, "great"?

For further reflection

C.S. Lewis, 20th century
Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.

Chinese Proverb
The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water; but to walk on the earth.

Augustine, 5th century
Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.

Sue Monk Kidd, 21st century
I realized it for the first time in my life: there is nothing but mystery in the world, how it hides behind the fabric of our poor, browbeat days, shining brightly, and we don't even know it.

Frederick Buechner, 21st century
A miracle is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A miracle is when one plus one equals a thousand.

These come from "Weekly Seeds": Weekly Seeds is a United Church of Christ resource for Bible study based on the readings of the "Lectionary," a plan for weekly Bible readings in public worship used in Protestant, Anglican and Roman Catholic churches throughout the world. When we pray with and study the Bible using the Lectionary, we are praying and studying with millions of others. Click here to read the whole Weekly Seeds reflection.

Blessings and peace - looking forward to seeing you soon!

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