The Gospel reading for January 8 has stayed with me. It was Mark’s version of the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes (Mark 6:30—44). Though there are many insights that can come out of this familiar story, as I relate the Gospel to life at All Souls this new year, I notice especially a theme of disruption.
The story begins with Jesus being tired. He says to the apostles—probably just a few—“Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” But Jesus’s plans for a retreat and some down time are disrupted when crowds of people begin to follow. Time for prayer gives way to more preaching, and even more people arrive. Just as Jesus must have been hitting his stride, there’s another disruption. A disciple notices that the people are hungry, so suggests to Jesus they either take a break and send people away, or find some food. Jesus gives the disciple the somewhat impatient response, “You give them something to eat.” John’s version of the story then says that Andrew is the apostle who finds a boy. And the boy has five loaves and two fish. Whatever plans the boy might have had for a quiet picnic are disrupted as the disciple introduces the boy to Jesus, a miracle is made, and thousands are fed.
The way Mark tells the story, it seems as though no one (except for Jesus, perhaps) woke up that day knowing exactly what the day might bring. It was filled with interruptions, challenges, and surprises. Things did not appear to go by plan. But God was there in the midst of it all. As people come together in their need (for nourishment of the body and nourishment of the soul), sharing their humanity, God meets them in his divinity. The people of faith receive not only what they need but also receive gifts they didn’t even know they had desired.
At All Souls, our bathrooms are not yet complete. Part of our front yard is a muddy mess. And we’re only doing the preliminary work to what will surely be a year of disruptions. Our prayer, our peace, our space, our routines—all will be challenged, but through faith and help from one another, Christ will be in the midst of us. His presence has the potential to make the disruptions holy—strengthening, feeding, nourishing, and making miracles.