John 6:1-13

Jesus Feeds the Thousands

Preached in response to Hurricane Katrina
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John 6:1-13

Jesus Feeds the Thousands

The Rev. Greg Hazelrig

“Philip, where can we buy bread to feed all these people?”

“Philip, where can we buy bread to feed all these people,” Jesus asked. Did anyone other than Jesus really know?

Where can we buy bread to feed all these people Lord? They’ve come such a long way. And they’re hungry. They need a place to stay. They’re so many…and they need so much.

Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?

Some of these folks are ones we know…some are relatives. Others we’ve never seen before. They’re people just like us. But still, how can we care for them all?

Some have children. Others are elderly. Many haven’t heard from their families and don’t know if they’re all right. Where will they stay? What will they eat? Where will they go when it’s all over? And How in the world can we show love to so many Lord?

“There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”

And Andrew points out that there’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. BUT what good is that with this huge crowd?

What in the world can we do Lord?

Here’s what we have. But it seems so tiny compared to what’s really needed. Can five barley loaves and two fish really make a difference?

Lord, we’re overwhelmed by the great need along with our great desire to help out. We want to help. But who? And every time we do something, we feel like we need to help someone else because we haven’t done enough.

OK Jesus, we’ll have them sit. And then we’ll give thanks for what we have. And then we’ll give out of the little we have and see what happens.

And Jesus fed the multitudes…just as he’ll feed the multitudes today. But he’ll do it through faithful servants willing to pray, give thanks, and share out of their bounty with those who’ve lost everything.

Jesus used that boy and what little he had. And he’ll use you too. You see, what you give may seem like a little when you compare it to the thousands of homeless refugees. It may not seem like much when you look on Fox News or CNN and see a city that’s no longer there.

But how do you think it looks to that one person you help? It looks like a miracle. And you know, that’s exactly what it is.

Where is God (Christ) in all this

Let me share one of my top three favorite scriptures. It comes from Romans 8:28.

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

Well, friends, do you love God? Do you feel called according to his purpose? Then guess what. There will be good coming from this disaster. You see, the Bible doesn’t say that some things work or even the good things work for good. All things do. Even Hurricane Katrina.

God didn’t send her to punish us or test us. He allowed it to happen just as he allowed 9/11 to happen. But good can come out of it. Let me give you one example.

One group came to us from Colorado in the wake of the hurricane. They didn’t know where they were going—just that they were going to Mississippi to help out. Their leader looked online for a church in southern Mississippi, and chose one at random (or by the grace of God). That happened to be our church. They found our phone number and called us.

They came to West Laurel, which at that time was desperate for people who were handy with chainsaws. Laurel looked like a war zone—trees down everywhere and roads closed and houses damaged by wind or fallen trees. They were a busload of people who were ready to do exactly what we needed—who had the supplies that we needed.

They stayed for a week. During that week, they did what would have taken us months without their help. They came to us by the grace of God, and they helped to pull us back from the brink.

Throughout the South, there were countless stories like that. People came out of the woodwork to help—to do what they could—to help where help was desperately needed. In every case, their help was important. In some cases, they were the difference between life and death.

Local people rallied too. We not only tried to shoulder our own burdens as we were able, but we also tried to help our neighbors.

So just where is God found in these times?

He’s found in the parents, grandparents, and friends who are housing loved ones.

He’s found in those who are making sandwiches.

He’s found in those who’ve given money.

…in those who’ve visited Roy’s Store.

…in those who’ve listened to the stories people have shared.

…in those who’ve made flood buckets.

…in those who’ve shone love to others in any way because they know it’s what Christ would want them to do.

Christ is to be found in us.

Our first obligation was to check on each other. I tried doing that Monday and Tuesday. I apologize if I missed anyone who needed me. And I beg of you to contact me if you have a need or have a loved one that you still haven’t heard from.

The next thing for us to do was (and still is) to reach out. One way to do that is by coming to and inviting (maybe even picking up the displaced people) to our prayer service tonight. This time is for them.

I’ll be gone tomorrow through Wednesday at the latest. But you don’t have to have me to help others. Be the hands and the feet of Christ to whomever and wherever you can. Then let me know what you’ve done. I’m trying to keep a record of those who we’ve helped and those still in need. I’ve actually got a notebook started and it’s up to page 11. This is so we can work effectively together as we partner with the Baptist churches and Red Cross, UMCOR and the cluster.

We want to help all we can…and we want to spread what we can the best we can.

And as you bring miracles to others, God will perform miracles in you. Just watch and see.

Copyright 2008, Greg Hazelrig. Used by permission.