Leftovers

Proper 12 (July 26, 2009)
Common Lectionary Readings:
II Kings 4:42-44; Ps. 145:10-18; Eph. 3:14-21: John 6:1-21

This week we met with four remarkable young Jordanian women. Two had just returned from Canada, where they served with MCC’s International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP). It was amazing to see how their self-confidence had grown during the past year. Two others are preparing to spend a year abroad – one in California the other in British Columbia. IVEP participants live with a host family and volunteer in a local organization.

(Left to right): IVEP volunteers Fareedah, Mirna, Natali and Shoroq

MCC has a sister program – Serving and Learning Together (SALT) – in which young adults from Canada and the United States spend a year in another country. Next month, MCC’s Jordan and Palestine programs will welcome three new SALT workers.

We celebrated Cindy’s birthday, July 24. Daryl prepared a huge dish of saffron rice and chicken. We’ll be eating leftovers for a week! Cindy enjoyed receiving cards from friends and family around the world.

In the region this week, Iraqi Kurds went to the polls to elect a new president and parliament, July 25. While “Kurdistan” – as the three northern Iraqi provinces are known – is officially part of Iraq, it also has a semi-autonomous government.

The Common Lectionary readings this week are about God’s generous provision of enough.

In the Old Testament reading, a man brings a gift of 20 barley loaves and fresh ears of grain to Elisha during a time of famine. The prophet tells him: “Give it to the people and let them eat” (II Kings 4:42). The man argues that it will not be enough food for 100 people. But Elisha repeats his command and says that, not only will there be enough, there will be leftovers! The man complies. The crowd eats. There is enough – and then some.

The Gospel reading tells a parallel story of Jesus feeding a crowd of 5,000 (John 6:1-14). The stakes are much higher. A young boy has only 5 barley loaves and two fish. The disciples are skeptical that this will be enough. “What are they among so many people?” asks Andrew. But Jesus blesses these small gifts and has his disciples distribute them to the crowd, who eats and is satisfied. The disciples collect 12 baskets of leftovers!

The psalmist also speaks of enough. “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing” (Ps. 145:15-16).

In the Epistle reading, Paul prays that the church will be “filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19) and proclaims that God’s power at work within us “Is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” (v.20).

In God’s economy, there is enough for all — and then some. Where there is human need, it is not because God has failed to provide. It is because we humans hoard for ourselves or because we fear that the gifts we have to offer will not be enough in the face of great needs.

We were encouraged this week by stories of how IVEP volunteers shared their gifts with communities in Canada this past year — and how God multiplied their contributions.

What gifts are we not sharing for fear that they will not be enough?

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