Theme: To count on the best.
The sun was still high in the sky, but is was becoming cooler. The Scouts had been on their way for quite a few hours. The program said: 'A Day in the Wild'. And therefore they had started early in the morning on a hike in the Drakensberg mountains. They had maps and a compass. They had to leave their cellphones at the camp because this was a challenge. Their backpacks were filled with provisions. The climb was difficult but they had enough time and food. Or so they thought...
If only it had not been so hot all day. When they got to a mountain peak, they rested a while. They ate their sandwiches and what else they had brought along. They drank water from a mountain stream and gave their tired legs a rest. A little nap in the sun seemed a good idea because it was still early. All would have been well if they had only found the right turn-off. But they did not.....
They walked and walked and walked. There was no end in sight. It became evening and the atmosphere changed. They became tired and started arguing: If you did not always think you knew better....If you were only walking a little bit faster....I never wanted to come on this hike anyway..... Neither did I.... My parents are at the coast now and I am on this stupid Scout-camp. They still had a long way to go.
'We cannot go on like this', said Simone who was the leader. 'Let us rest for a bit. And then we can decide what to do. One thing is clear: we must get down before it becomes dark'. 'Why must we rest? We have nothing more to eat anyway. And we are getting cold'. They decided to rest. At least they had enough water and they all agreed that it tasted very well.
If only they had not been so hungry! 'What do we still have to eat?', asked Tim and pulled a tin of tuna from his backpack. 'This is a tip from my father: Don't ever go on a hike without a tin of tuna'. He thew his raincoat on the ground and put the tin of tuna in the middle. Now everybody looked in their backpacks. Out came energy bars and sandwiches and sweeties. It won't satisfy our hunger but at least we won't smell the fish afterwards', said Marie.
After they had eaten the little food they had they noticed that the atmosphere had changed. Confidence had returned. New strength. They were very much aware that they were not alone. 'Actually it is like the time of Jesus. When he fed the 5000 people', said Simone. 'Do you know the story of one of Jesus' miracles?'. 'I am glad that I did not have to share my fish with 5000 hungry hikers,' Tim laughed. 'But tell us the story, please.'
Text: John 6:1-15
Five bread rolls and two fishes and 5000 people had eaten their full, is what the evangelist John tells us. The other evangelists also tell this story. Not possible! Many say it is impossible. A fairy tale! Fantasy!
If Jesus could do that all those years ago, then why does He not do it again today? There are so many people in the world today who go hungry. If only Jesus could turn stones into bread today!
Nobody can explain what had really happened there that day. But even so it has never been the way of the Son of God to miraculously change stones into bread. His way was to change the hard hearted people into caring human beings. He changed their view of the world. He taught them to open their hearts. Aha, some people will think: He did not feed them with 5 bread rolls and 2 fishes; they looked in their bags and shared whatever they had.
I still believe that it was a miracle that is described in the Bible. I can imagine how Jesus told His people about God and his fairness to all. He told them how everybody would have enough and that man's desire for belonging and confidence would be fulfilled. Hope would be revived and compassion would grow. People would realise that what they had in their bags can be shared with others. We all belong together as brothers and sisters of one big family. We are all children of God and that he loves us all.
In those days..... Jesus was among His people and He filled them with hope. I would have loved to be there to see how the hearts of stone became hearts full of caring. In a time where the law of the strongest applied and where the rights of the smallest were trampled upon.
Has the world changed in the mean time? Not really. Alas! The strongest are still in power. Hunger is growing every day. People are fleeing from their homelands. Totalitarian regimes are becoming stronger. Thinking of the future of our planet is giving us sleepless nights.
John the Evangelist does not only tell us how Jesus fed 5000 people. He also tells us that they picked up the leftovers and that it filled twelve baskets! In the language of the Bible that means: there is enough for everybody. Enough for those who were not there. Enough for those who lived at a later stage; like us. The leftovers are a sign that miracles will always take place. If only people would open their hearts to Jesus. Does it also apply to us today? Can miracles still happen? I hope and believe YES. Miracles can surprise us and need not always be spectacular and unnatural.
What happened to the Scouts on their hiking trip was a miracle. They fought on their own and against each other. And then they became a community where everything was shared equally. They were exhausted and scared and became strong and confident. There are worrying moments in our lives when we realise that God is near. Sometimes the Holy Spirit intervenes.
I will not stop believing that God can do miracles even today. I still dream of a better world. That people will share what they have and that they will sing together. I believe that we are all children of God and that we go through this world together. As brothers and sisters, far and near, we can share what God had entrusted to us. I know it sounds like a dream. But he who relies on God, can rely on everyone, also on the best.