Reflection based John 61:1-21 Feeding the five thousand
Have/make the people sit down John 6:10a
Jesus is crossing over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee or sea of Tiberias.
A crowd followed him after they saw a sign of life and love offered as part of Jesus’ power to heal the sick. Jesus saw them approaching and said to Philip, “where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” After a quick calculation Philip said, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”
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 then, told the disciples to make the people sit down.
Sitting down is a posture of hospitality where guests are given rest before they are served.
There is often a sense of expectation and readiness to be surprised. Sitting down allows for people to share conversation and give attention to their life and purpose and to their host when they are served and addressed.
It is also a pastoral way of connecting and sharing with a big crowd.
A few years ago I met a friend whose job was to visit remote communities as part of the UCA’s offer to share people’s knowledge and faith and help the church understands the needs and support in remote communities and how we can better work with communities and agencies to address the needs and hopes of the people.
He arrived about 9am to an Aboriginal community where he was invited to meet the Elders at a sacred site. All the Elders were sitting on the ground in a circle and there was a space given for him and his two male companions. They sat down but when the meeting went on for more than an hour, my friend looked at his watch and was feeling anxious about being late to his next appointment which is at 7:30pm at another remote community.
One of the leading Elders asked him, I see you are worried, is everything ok? Yes, I’m fine, my friend replied. The Elder smiled and said, ‘we enjoy the time to sit down; you white fellows have a lot of energy and you are always rushing from one place to another, and often miss the present.’
My friend said, ‘those words stayed with me and will be for the rest of my life. I have changed my attitude about work especially the people I meet and the land and place where we meet. I now have a healthy way of looking at life and work especially time and space to sit down to share and rest.’
Make the people sit down speaks volume about the power of Jesus’ self-giving life and love for all and our part in it as guests and hosts.
Grace and peace,
Rev Sani Vaeluaga