Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat, and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” Jesus asked them, “How many loaves have you?”
– Matthew 15:31-34a
Few stories are more important in the New Testament than the feeding of the multitude. It’s so important, in fact, that it shows up six times in the four Gospels. Each time, Jesus takes something small and insignificant and uses it to work a miracle. To feed thousands. With leftovers.
Did you catch the question that Jesus asks the disciples in this story from Matthew? “How many loaves have you?” They are standing in a desert. They have nothing close to what they need to feed a crowd. Still, Jesus wants to know what they have. The miracle starts with an assessment of the gifts around them – not what they are missing or what they still need.
This is God’s abundance at work. Sometimes, when we look at our lives or the situations we are in, we can be quickly overwhelmed by the lack of resources at our disposal. Not enough workers. Not enough time. Not enough money or patience or energy or cooperation. Scarcity is easy to spot. Realizing what you already have and trusting God will use it? That takes faith.
Last month, we said goodbye to some wonderful staff members at Trinity, including Pastor Dan Dahl and Dr. Matt Gender. Their departures have required changes to how certain ministries happen. Nine different musicians are sharing our worship and ensemble directing roles over the next few months. Some of our pastoral care work will be covered with additional hours from Becky Elsbernd, the pastors, and our wonderful lay visitors. We continue to search for a Pastor of Spiritual Care, but candidates are very few due to an extreme clergy shortage in the ELCA.
Through it all, God seems to be asking, “How many loaves have you?” We have an abundance of gifts for ministry together. We are a priesthood of believers! And often, these moments of need can be energizing for congregations.
In these coming months, we will have particular needs for building hosts, sound/video techs, home communion visitors, singers and ringers, and ushers, to name a few. Can you help? Are you ready to see how God can use your gifts in a new way?