July 23, 2018
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.
The assigned lectionary readings for this coming Sunday, July 29, the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
Greetings from Chicago! I am here for two days to continue in the ongoing work of the task force to develop a strategy toward authentic diversity in the ELCA.
It bears repeating that a bishop serves not only the synod to which she or he has been elected but is also called to serve the whole church. As a result, I sometimes become concerned about what gets done and what is overlooked. Every so often there just doesn't seem to be enough time to go around.
This past week was a good example. Amid the routine meetings and other customary obligations, the staff had to prepare for our synod council meeting. There were reports to complete and notifications to send out in time for the council members to be able to read and digest in advance of the meeting. The bi-monthly unified newsletter also had to be published and assembled. It puts a premium on prioritizing.
I couldn't help but compare what we just experienced in the office to the Old Testament lesson and the Gospel for this coming Sunday. Both readings deal with miracles involving food, but the principle applies to other aspects of our life as well. In each case, there is not enough to go around, but somehow it does. And in each case, there is food left over.
We all know the story of the feeding of the five thousand (or at least we think we do). It's the only miracle that appears in all four gospels. In fact, Matthew and Mark each have an additional account of the feeding of 4000. So in all, we have six feeding miracles to compare.
Why did the gospel writers seem so fixated on this particular miracle more than all the many other healing and resurrection stories? In my opinion, it was attention grabbing because, through this one miracle, Jesus wanted to teach us one thing of significant importance - that we serve a God of abundance.
Our normal, sinful reaction is to believe in a God of scarcity. We never think there's enough.
One quick statistic to support my point is that 92,000 people - a thousandth of a percent of the world's population - control nearly 10 trillion dollars in personal wealth. I admit that the numbers are several years old, but not much has changed in the last decade.
Jesus knows our human economics. He knows the way we think in terms of scarcity. So, this week's readings are an invitation and a challenge to us - both as individuals and as communities of faith - to believe in God's power to do the impossible in the midst of the reality of the situation that surrounds us.
Jesus calls us to question the assumptions about scarcity, to focus on what we have rather than what we lack. In so doing, He welcomes us to the opportunity to begin living according to God's economics of abundance.
I will be back in the office on Wednesday,
, for my monthly meeting with the Committee for Ecumenical Affairs. Though it functions without a great deal of fanfare, this committee fulfills a vital role in our life together as Christians, stimulating and supervising ecumenical activity; and encouraging ecumenical conversation, especially with our full-communion partners.
One of my many duties as bishop is to be the chief ecumenical officer of the synod. As such, I thank God for the work of the dedicated individuals that serve on this committee.
, I will be at the Hartville Migrant Center to visit with the youngsters there on Youth Sports Night. I have the pleasure of gathering with these youth once each summer to offer devotions and chat with them about whatever is on their minds.
Many of you know how meaningful this ministry is to me. During my years as a parish pastor in Canton, I served on the Board of the Hartville Migrant Council and found it to be some of my most fulfilling work.
Hartville Migrant Ministry
began in 1952 to offer support to the migrants who work on the farms in Hartville during the growing season from April to October. It is one of the few remaining ecumenical migrant ministries in the United States. Much of the Ministry's support comes from volunteers, area churches, hospitals and universities, and is funded by donations and grants.
Some volunteers have served countless number of years and I am blessed to count them among my friends. They work with other agencies and organizations to provide medical care, educational summer programs, adult education classes, a legal clinic, bible studies, and a community center with a bilingual library and computer center.
, I will have the honor of officiating at the marriage of Grace Cammarn and Jason Katsaros. Grace is the daughter of Pastors Dan Cammarn and Ann Paynter. As bishop, I rarely have the opportunity to preside at weddings, so I am honored to be asked, and blessed to be available.
, I will be with the people of God at Peace Lutheran Church in Cleveland Heights as they say farewell to one of their pastors, the Rev. Don King, who is retiring after 40 years of ministry. Pastor King also serves as Dean of the Cleveland East Conference and will continue to serve in that role.
This week and always, may you be strengthened in your inner being with power through the Holy Spirit, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
+Bishop Abraham Allende