I have been reflecting on the gospel stories of Jesus feeding the 5,000 (Mark 6) and then the 4,000 (Mark 8). I guess because those were outdoor gatherings and because there had to be some level of organization to pull it off, it has come to my mind as somewhat of a model for this coming Sunday. However, they were not exactly like what we plan to do. They didn’t involve juice or wine. They were somewhat spontaneous and not organized beforehand. In fact, we are told that the disciples sought food to feed the hungry crowd and only found the fish sandwiches of a little kid. But Jesus told the disciples to sit the crowds in an orderly seating pattern. He prayed, and he distributed the food to the apostles who then gave the food to the crowds. And as they grabbed food from the baskets the food just kept multiplying and multiplying. People quickly realized in amazement that indeed a miracle was happening before their very eyes.
Jesus does not promise to literally show up on Sunday and do a miracle. But in one sense he does promise to be present. He shows up in the faithful preaching of the word, in the careful presentation of the holy sacrament, even in the gathered congregation itself… we are the body of Christ! Jesus is present! He shows up to dispense grace to His people. He shows up that we might both live out and proclaim good news for our discouraged world, power in our weak world, love in our hateful world, and unity in our divided world.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (ESV)
16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.