Week Two (Day 4) - The God of Abundance
May the grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you! Henri Nouwen, the priest and renowned spiritual writer, died in 1996. Recently some lectures he once gave he once gave have been discovered, transcribed and edited and published under the title, “Following Jesus”. That title sums up what all our lives are about. In good times and in not such good times, we have been called to follow Jesus and that is what matters most about our lives.
In one of the earlier chapters of the book, Nouwen says that we all too often think “scarcity”. It’s almost as though we humans have been programmed to think “scarcity”. We never think there will be enough. We think things will runout, and will run out soon, so we gather in supplies of all kinds of things. We hoard, food, things, affection and status and so much more because we are fearful people. But “scarcity” is not the way the Lord thinks. He thinks “abundance”. When the disciples are called in Luke’s Gospel they go fishing and they catch so many fish that the nets almost rip apart.
In the marriage feast of Cana, just think of all that water the Lord turned into wine: there were six stone jars full and each held 20 to 30 gallons and how much more life wine has than water!
Then there are the miracles of the feeding of the 4,000 and 5,000 which tell us what? Surely that out of the little we have, out of the five loaves and two fish, the Lord not only provides enough but there is always more than enough, far more than enough, with plenty left over.
In all of this, says Nouwen, the Lord invites his disciples, and that means us, to go on a journey to think not in terms of “scarcity” but in terms of “abundance”. How often have we said, “How on earth can we be expected to do this? Get real! We don’t have the strength or the wisdom let alone the courage to make a success of what we are asked to do!”
Or when faced with something personally difficult, like supporting someone locked in grief and bereavement, don’t we sometimes say, “I don’t have the sensitivity for this” We think scarcity. Or we might be reminded of advancing years and say, “How can I ever again be worthwhile to others, to the Lord?” Yes, we all too often think scarcity.
But the Lord invites us to step over our fears, to put our hand into his hand, the hand of the Lord of abundance and plenty, and to keep on walking forward. He invites us to remember all the wonders he has done: to remember the enormous haul of fish, all that water into wine, and here, in the fifteenth chapter of St Matthew’s Gospel, the feeding of the four thousand.
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?’ They said, ‘Seven, and a few small fish.’ Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. (John 15:32-37)
Dearest God of abundance,
Calm our fears and rescue us from our anxieties. May we be ambassadors of your abundance to all those who are anxious and fearful. We remember those who are sick and those looking after them We remember those who have died and those who mourn them. Keep us close to you, we pray, and help us know that with you there is always more than enough and seven, even twelve, basketfuls left over! We make these and all our prayers through Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.