AMAZING THINGS CAN HAPPEN AT THE DEER LEASE
Hi friends Earlier this week with my Zoom small group Along the Way with Pastor Paul, we studied the miracle of Jesus and the Feeding of the 5,000. Using comments from Amy-Jill Levine's video and her book Signs and Wonders: A Beginners Guide to the Miracles of Jesus, our group examined the text from Luke 9:10-17. Please allow me to share some of our thoughts on this food miracle and what compassion, hospitality, and healing have to do with the story. The setting is a disciples' retreat to the small village of Bethsaida. Jesus is joined by the Twelve, the named disciples who later become the Apostles, on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The area is home to Simon (Peter) and Andrew. Their hometown actually means "house of - hunting or fishing." And that is what they set out to do together. In Texas terms, it is November and they've gone to the deer lease. They have retreated to debrief and tell Jesus of all that has happened on their mission trip among the towns and villages of the area. Remember Jesus sent them out earlier in Luke's story and gave them authority to heal and proclaim in his name.
Just one little problem. Jesus and the Twelve have stirred up the people of this area with the preaching, and teaching, and healing. So much so that a big crowd has followed them into the slopes of the high area north of the sea. They thought that it was going to be a relaxing weekend getaway. Tell some stories, cook some food on the campfire, hunt or fish a bit, and mainly rest.
When Jesus saw the crowd assembled, he did three things. He welcomed them. He spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and he healed many who sought cures. The weekend getaway to the deer lease had become a healing service for a crowd bigger than any synagogue would hold.
The feeding of the multitude comes only once Jesus has done these things. He loved them. He served them. He gave them what they needed. And then Jesus and the disciples fed the multitude with a scarce resource of food. There are so many commentaries on this food miracle. It appears in all four gospel accounts. Preachers and teachers have written thousands of sermons and lessons on this scripture text. What I heard again earlier this week was simple. Jesus embodies compassion, hospitality, and the capacity to heal people.
Please read the scripture text and make your own conclusions. And then hear this invitation: let us together, LOVE - SERVE - GIVE and do it generously. This week we have the opportunity to hear four persons from this congregation speak about their discipleship and how Jesus has invited them to be the hands and feet of Christ, in mission with our church community and in the world. Come and join us in-person or online at Manchaca UMC.