Rev. Timothy Haut has been the Pastor of the First Congregational Church (UCC) in Deep River, CT, for 41 years, and will celebrate 50 years of ordained ministry in 2022. He has written a book entitled “A Deep River Year,” writes poetry, bakes blue-ribbon pies, tends a garden, and has a one-eyed dog named Bug.
Scripture: John 6:1-21 (NRSV)
After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.’
When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, got into a boat, and started across the lake to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The lake became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land towards which they were going.
Reflection: So That Nothing May Be Lost
Miracles abound when Jesus is in the neighborhood. In this story, a Passover-minded crowd of thousands is fed when a little boy’s basket of bread and fish is put into Jesus’ hands. The details are lovely. The people are stretched out on the green grass by the lake, a perfect place for a summer picnic. We imagine the sun glittering on the lake, the laughter of children playing on the hillside, a breeze carrying the scent of water as gulls circled high overhead. It is all manna: heavenly food.
When they are finished eating, Jesus tells his friends to gather up the leftovers, so that “nothing may be lost.” And so we are reminded of the gift we all receive when Jesus is in the neighborhood—that fragments and broken pieces of our lives are gathered up and kept to nourish and bless us in the days of struggle and sorrow. Some of these are bits of memories that have endured the years. My father’s presence bent over my bed on a day of pain and fear. The teacher who wept inconsolably when our President died, and another who climbed up on his desk and stood singing joyfully on a bitter winter day. The moment my newborn son was lifted into my arms, and I felt my heart get bigger. The arms around me when another son died. The sacred words that came unbidden, to bring light and hope into a terrible night.
I am the heart in which all these fragments are collected, along with those other pieces that seemed to have no purpose when they happened. Those are the little failures, disappointments, losses, and missteps that also have served to shape me into the person I am, and they, too, have been gathered up as a holy gift.
Sometimes I wonder if my own life has made a difference in the world. Have any of the words I have spoken or any of the things I have done, left a residue in anyone’s heart? Or will my life and its consequences all be swept away and forgotten in time’s ever-rolling stream? This is what I trust, in the end: that nothing will be lost, but it will all be gathered up, used, and blessed, for love’s sake. Holy manna. Loaves and fishes. Fragments of grace.
Lord, your are the giver of those fragments of grace. Let them continue to fall upon us, surrounding us with your presence in the good and bad times, so that we may always know your love.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the victims and their families of the 370 mass shootings already carried out in 2021
- For those effected by the massive wildfires burning in the west
- For the people of Haiti where uncertainty impacts their lives after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse last week
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the delegates, visitors, and staff who participated in the UCC's 2021 General Synod gathering online last week
This Week in History:
July 20, 2012 (9 years ago) Gunman James Holmes enters a movie theater in Aurora, CO, and starts shooting, killing 12 and injuring 70 others. Authorities learned later that a University of Colorado psychiatrist who had treated Holmes had reported to campus police that Holmes could be a public threat. Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but was convicted in 2015 and sentenced to 12 consecutive life sentences without parole. The shooting and Holmes' trial have sparked many debates over mental illnesses.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”