Today’s story from John (6:1-21) is a retelling of last Sunday’s absent text from Mark…the feeding of the 5000 and Jesus walking on water. I have no idea why the lectionary is developed the way it is, why we’re reading this excerpt from John instead of Mark, but we are, and I’m sure there is good logic and reasoning for it. Really, when we consider most of the world around us, we can explain it through the lens of logic and reasoning. That’s why God gave us brains, right? I mean, these days we know that God didn’t create the world in the literal 6 days, but over millions of years. Scientists and archeologists have found ways to use logic and reasoning to explain the plagues in Egypt from the time of Moses. And all of that is wonderful research, and the nerd in me is joyous to hear about the discovery of the “God particle” in recent scientific news. But sometimes, when my logic and reasoning really take over, and my need to have all the questions answered gets out of control, I become a cynical skeptic. “No way did that stuff really happen” is what pops into my head when reading miracle stories. “No way did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead.” “No way did Jesus feed 5000 people on five loaves and two fish.” “No way did Jesus walk on water.” Surely, none of you have thought that way…right?
While logic and reasoning are good, and the nerd in me rejoices in logic and reasoning, it can blind us to the miracles happening around us daily. Despite what some of us might think…that God doesn’t do that kind of thing anymore…there are miracles happening around us all the time. Anyone who has beaten cancer will tell you it’s a miracle. Anyone who has lived through a tornado, hurricane or wildfire and not lost their homes or loved ones will tell you it’s a miracle. Anyone who has walked the fine line between life and death because of substance abuse and is now sober will tell you it’s a miracle. Anyone who has experienced family problems but has found a way to heal and reconcile will tell you it’s a miracle. These kinds of miracles may not be of epic proportions, but they happen and they change lives.
So what’s a miracle all about? While the Biblical text tells us that miracles are about feeding and healing, they also serve to reinforce that Jesus was more than just a man; that he was the Divine incarnate. Miracles, especially the ones in the New Testament, remind us that God is ever present in our daily lives; that God understands our hunger, our pain, and our need for healing.
In the Ephesians reading (3:14-21), Paul is praying so that the people might let Christ dwell in their hearts; that they be rooted and grounded in love. The Message translation reads “that Christ will live in you as you open the door and let him in.” The idea here is that when we let Jesus inside of us, then we are changed from the inside out. And that change makes it possible to recognize the miracles around us. Imagine for a moment that you are among those 5000 people who were fed by Jesus. Not only was your physical hunger abated, but your spiritual hunger as well…being in the presence of Jesus, letting him into your heart, made it possible for the miracle of transformation to happen. Or suppose you were among the disciples who witnessed Jesus walking on water. His words of consolation “do not be afraid” open you up and give you the courage needed to follow Jesus and carry his message to far off villages and towns. Miracles can open our hearts to Jesus, and by opening our hearts, we experience the miracles around us.
So my question for you is, have you opened your heart and experienced the miracle, or are you being logical about everything?
I don't know what the future of the church is, but I know that we will continue to be a place of sanctuary and hope, working towards healing in the world.