More Than a Meal

Lenten Devotion: Week Two

Matthew 14:13-21 (NRSV)
Feeding the Five Thousand
13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
 
One could say that the feeding of the 5000 is a story that “buries the headline.” Jesus wouldn’t be content to just “wow” us by stretching the food supply, would he? So what is the “headline” we could learn in this story?

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Ash Wednesday 2019

by Pastor Tracy Paschke-Johannes
 
Matthew 6:1-6 (NRSV)
Concerning Almsgiving
“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 
Concerning Prayer
5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 
Matthew 6:16-21 (NRSV)
Concerning Fasting
16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Concerning Treasures
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Like many people, I watched in grief and sadness as wildfires raged in the western states in 2018. I couldn’t imagine the pain of families evacuating with only the clothes on their backs, only to return and find their homes, and their neighborhoods reduced to ashes. To understand the scope of the wildfires, news websites created interactive maps–I typed in my zip code, and a map with the square miles of the fire was superimposed over our region. One fire destroyed an area that would span from Middletown to Kettering. It is humbling and terrifying to imagine that everything you have, all that you worked for, could be gone in an instant.

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