Matthew 14: 14-21; Isaiah 55: 1-5
Consider the familiar world in which we live every day. It is a world of scarcity and anxiety. It is a world that thinks there is not enough to go around and that we cannot share, but we must get all we can for ourselves and get more as we are able because we never have enough yet. That familiar world of scarcity is grounded in a deep fear of running out, generating wide and deep anxiety about our lives with others.
In today’s story, we are told that the fear of scarcity is a fraud in the presence of Jesus Christ. We tend to imagine our anxiety about running out, or not having enough, or not wanting to share. However, God can and will do abundantly what is beyond our imagining of scarcity. We are not told how that happened, but God’s abundance is beyond what we can imagine. Where God’s agent is present, loaves abound.
This same Spirit exploded with abundance long before Jesus. Isaiah’s text broke that scarcity with his prophecy that comforted those helpless aliens and captives. This prophecy or imagination or poem contradicts the economy of Babylon that operates based on scarcity and fear, rationing out sparse food supplies. Yes, the Spirit is always contradicting our cycle of scarcity.
I do not need to tell you that we often might fail in God’s abundance. Our anxious scarcity has messed up the environment. And even our unending greed causes a fake version of Christianity, known as the prosperity gospel.
The term prosperity gospel is the false notion of succeeding by getting more and ahead of our neighbor if we might be better believers by giving a huge tithe. However, God-given abundance in the holy stories is not private for the ones who can get ahead. It is for all the neighbors, all who are included in the common good. Yes, God-given abundance leads us to communal well-being, not private well-being.
The primary reason we give to this church is because we all are called to participate in this business of God’s abundance by giving up the fearful scarcity, and selfish greed, ourselves. The calling for us is to come and put all our trust and faith in God, who overturns our scarcity with the overflow of enough bread and life support for all because God still goes beyond all we ask and all we can imagine.
Within a world of scarcity, God still recruits God’s agents—people and church—those who can continue to do the business of God’s abundance because we are the people who know all gifts given by God—free wine and milk, free bread, and wine and water, with no exceptions with the surplus.
May we remember our imagination of scarcity comes out of fear and running out; however, God’s abundance comes out of love and compassion. Perfect love casts out fear. Perfect abundance casts out scarcity.
Thanks be to God.