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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

26 August 2020: Judith Bee, St Mary, Buriton

Gathering the fragments

The feeding of the five thousand is one of the better-known stories from the Christian New Testament. In it, you may remember, Jesus, anxious to provide for the crowd that had sought him out, and come for healing from all kinds of diseases, took the only food available and transformed it into more than enough food to feed the entire crowd. There are many levels on which this miracle can be interpreted but the thing that always strikes me about it is the fragments that remain. After everyone had eaten their fill, Jesus told his disciples to gather up the fragments that remained, so that nothing was lost. Twelve baskets full of scraps were collected, more than there was to begin with! Nothing was to be wasted. God’s generosity knows no bounds; he gives in great abundance.

Amid the uncertainties of the past few months, the suspending of many activities and opportunities, many people have rediscovered what might be called the fragments of their lives, things they may have previously thought unimportant or superfluous or surplus to their needs, ways of being which had been lost, relationships which were suddenly recognised as important. Simpler pleasures, pastimes, getting to know our neighbours, may have taken on a greater significance for us; reaching out to others, and allowing others to reach out to us, may have been more fulfilling than we would have imagined.

Perhaps each of us might reflect on which of those fragments we need to ensure we carry forward with us as we emerge into a changed future; those fragments which we should be careful not to waste. Perhaps we will be surprised at what our generous God will do with them.

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