This summer, I am learning to bake, prepare meals, and can our garden produce on a much smaller scale than ever before. A batch of whoopee pies makes about two dozen. That’s approximately one picnic’s worth in the days of four sons living at home, but an endless (and overwhelming!) supply for this empty nest. Thank heavens for hungry house guests!
I was simmering a six-quart kettle of spaghetti sauce on the stove on the day my Bible reading plan sent me to John 6 and the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. I’ve been known to feed an extra four or five people who showed up at the last minute around supper time, but that’s more a result of a well-stocked freezer and pantry than any power of multiplication.
The Lesson of the Lunch
Turning a little boy’s lunch into a satisfying picnic dinner for five thousand men–plus women and children–was more than just a cool party trick. I find it incredibly interesting that this is the only miracle recorded in all four of the Gospel records. Jesus had lessons he was trying to drive home about sustenance and salvation, abiding and abounding, belief and betrayal.
Because he was more interested in feeding people than in establishing a “religion” or overthrowing the Roman empire, he began to lose followers at this point in his ministry. The well-fed crowd scrambled to make Jesus king, but he had NOT received the gift of bread and fish from a little boy to initiate his own coronation banquet. He is the King who gives gifts and who sets the standard for hospitality by offering up his own body as true food and drink.
The science assures us that caring for others in practical ways releases feel-good hormones in the brain, but I think there’s more at work here. When we crack the eggs, flip the pancakes, crisp the bacon, pile the cookies onto a plate and pass them around the table, we image our giving God. In February, when I pour this summer’s sauce over noodles or serve dilly beans with Thanksgiving dinner, I’m invited to a little reenactment of Christ’s feeding of the five thousand in which a little something was made into a lot, in which whatever was offered to God miraculously became enough!
When I pour this summer’s sauce over noodles or serve dilly beans with Thanksgiving dinner, I’m invited to a reenactment of Christ’s feeding of the 5,000. A little was made into a lot and, offered to God, it miraculously became enough!Tweet
And Now Let’s Talk Books…
Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer
For me, prayer is the most challenging of the spiritual disciplines. I over think, second guess, and catch myself falling into prosperity gospel patterns of praying for my loved ones as if the most important things in life are safety and success.
Last year, I spent ten months praying the psalms as a corrective measure, so I was eager to read Answering God for more insight into the psalms as “tools for prayer,” as “prayers that train us in prayer.”
Will I manage to pray through all one hundred fifty psalms in thirty days as Peterson recommends? Not if I’m going to get my garden harvested and into jars, but one per day is enough to answer his directive to pray “sequentially, regularly, faithfully across a lifetime.” With his characteristic scholarly-yet-pastoral voice, Peterson takes readers through major themes, examining the psalmists’ use of language, metaphor, and rhythm, the influence of story and of memory, and the telltale evidence of liturgy within the psalms.
I have found this to be one of Peterson’s most challenging books, so I wasn’t surprised when I learned that it is part of a good many seminary programs for spiritual theology. It was well worth the effort–and I read parts of it twice! As a result, I am coming away from the experience committed to a more rigorous practice of praying the Psalms.
Holding You in the Light,
“Prayers are tools, not for doing or getting, but for being and becoming.” #EugenePeterson in #AnsweringGodTweet
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