God’s abundance

Pentecost 8

John 6:1-15

Marian Free

In the name of God whose abundant love is far more than we need or deserve. Amen.

I wonder what you had for dinner last night. We had mustard beef with thyme butter and a selection of vegetables.  It was very satisfying – nothing, I imagine like a meal which consisted of one five thousandth of five barley loaves. Until now, I hadn’t really thought about what that really meant. How much did each person really get? What did one thousandth of a barley loaf look like?

One loafIn order to find out, I bought myself five small loaves of bread (not barley sadly) and tried to work out how to cut them into five thousand pieces. The easiest way seemed to be to take just one loaf as a sample. First, I cut the loaf into four pieces. Then I took one of those pieces and cut it lengthwise into five pieces (20 pieces in total). With just one one of the five pieces, I cut five strips from top to bottom (bringing the total number of pieces to 100). Finally I cut those strips into 10  pieces. That gave me the requisite 1000 pieces from one loaf.

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One thousandth of a loaf

As you can see, the pieces are not as small as you might imagine, but certainly too small to chew, let alone to satisfy.

Finally, having separated the 1000 pieces of bread, I gathered up the crumbs. Barely a tablespoon – hardly the two and half baskets of the story. (One loaf, not five.)

One fifth of the crumbs

While the piece of bread each person got, was slightly larger than I had envisaged, the fact that it apparently satisfied people who had not eaten all day, and that a vast quantity was left over is still mind-blowing.

From the gift of a boy’s lunch Jesus satisfied a hungry throng with far more than they could eat. Just imagine what God can do with our gifts, if we hold nothing back, but give all that we can.

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