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Generosity in abundance

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In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus takes a few loaves of bread and feeds some 5,000 hungry followers who have tracked him out into the country. It is a miracle of stunning proportions, and leaves people shocked and confused. How did he do this? What kind of teacher is this? This miracle, or a version of it, is included in all four of the New Testament Gospels. It must be important.The 12 disciples are chagrined that the crowd has followed Jesus out to what was supposed to be a retreat for them. When Jesus suggests that the crowd should be fed, it is not a welcomed idea. “Two hundred days wages’ worth of food would not be enough for each one to have a little,” Philip says. But Jesus goes on to take some bread and fish from a boy in the crowd, and feeds everyone, with baskets of food left over.Jesus asks his followers to do something they clearly think is not only impossible, it is unreasonable. They are clearly only beginning to understand who Jesus is, and what his mission and ministry are all about. When my first child was born, I made a difficult decision to take a new job closer to my home. It wasn’t as promising career-wise, but I felt it was the right thing to do. A month after I took the new job, the new company I went to work for announced that it was shutting down, effective immediately. I was angry — with the company, with myself and with God. I felt I had followed my values and my faith and had been betrayed, and I felt that I was now asked to do something completely unreasonable — be unemployed and be a new father.Well, that experience changed my life in several positive ways. I ended up in a wonderful new position, one I never would have pursued otherwise. And I learned a lot about how to trust God. I was completely out of control of my future, and ended up feeling completely lucky and blessed. I was shocked — blown away — by how well things turned out.So many of us are struggling with losses in this economic downturn. Jobs, homes and savings have vanished. So many people feel that what God is asking them to endure is impossible and unreasonable. As with the 5,000 hungry people following Jesus, God provides all they need and more. May each of us experience this in these difficult times. And may all of us have the opportunity, like the people fed by Jesus, to be blown away by the love and power of God that is beyond what we could have imagined. Bill Peatman writes from Napa. He may be reached at bptidings@yahoo.com. {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0727/peatman/{/gallery}

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