From the President There were at least five thousand, some newly healed of wounds and demons, all of them gathered on a hillside as the day’s light fades. Can you imagine? The smell? The noise? The need? Both evening and hunger are setting in quickly.
Luke 9:16-17 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 16
And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.
“Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” That’s what the disciples recommend. Understandably. For what are a couple of fish and five loaves of bread in the face of 5000 hungry souls? What choice do we have when our resources are so unbelievably low and the need is so unbelievably great? These days in the church, this seems to be the story all around. We need more money. We need more leaders. We need more congregations. We need more volunteers. We need more people in worship. We need. We need. We need. And it is no exaggeration. The statistics paint a pretty clear picture of our own little hillside of need and the diminishing resources we have to address those needs. And then there are our own personal resource-to-need discrepancies. I have a fairly long list of which I am painfully aware. I suspect you have a few resource-to-need discrepancies in your own life. Truth be told, I am not sure it has ever been any other way for those called to the work of God. These discrepancies are our constant companions. There will always be more needs than we can address with the resources at our disposal. But Jesus takes what they have to offer - their shortage, their weakness, their inability, their “lack of,” their “not enough,” their “too little” - their five loaves and two fish and he looks up to heaven for a blessing - a blessing
2 L ifeTogether
| Issue 1, 2016
from the One who created something out of nothing. He looked up to heaven, blessed the “too little” and broke it and fed the people. And there were leftovers. Still this miracle is the mustard seed of miracles. It is a small reminder of what God can do, a foretaste of the feast that is to come. So that on that day, on another hillside, when it looks like all is lost, that death has won, that there is no reason for hope, that we recall just what God can do with nothing. Unimaginable abundance and leftovers from a young boy’s lunch. Abundant, eternal, full court press life out of death. These are the moves of the God we worship and serve. These are the promises which are ours in Christ Jesus. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in our midst. There are days when long meetings about the future of the church and theological education, about budgets and giving, about enrollment and shortages make me into the kind of disciple that just wants to send everyone home before it gets too dark and we have a crisis on our hands. But this miracle reminds me to look at the world with different eyes and to see what God is already blessing in our midst – our beautiful graduates, the generosity of our donors, our committed boards, faculty and staff for starters. And then to ask God to take our “lack of,” our “not enough,” our “too little” and bless it to be more than we ever could have imagined. In Christ,
Rev. Louise N. Johnson PRESIDENT, WARTBURG THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
Published on Feb 24, 2017