The collection of scholars known as The Jesus Seminar have ranked the likelihood that Jesus actually did and said the things the gospels claim he did and said, and they rank the story of Jesus distributing two fishes and five loaves of bread and somehow feeding thousands of people as highly unlikely.
This saddens me.
Most progressive Christians like me don't think this is a story about how Jesus magically replicated food.
Instead, it's a story about how a gesture of generosity inspired people in a large crowd who had more than enough food to share it with strangers.
I believe in loaves and fishes with all my heart. I believe that if we appeal to people’s generosity, they will share of their abundance, even if it isn’t a tremendous abundance, so that everyone around them can have enough of what we all need to survive.
I think what inhibits people from being more openly generous in their daily lives is their exposure to the Greedy and Lazy. We are so afraid that people might take advantage of our generosity that we have a tendency to limit it. That’s too bad, because generosity is good for us.
Year after year, new studies highlight the benefits of generosity for both our physical and mental health. Not only does generosityreduce stress, support one’s physical health, enhance one’s sense of purpose, and fight depression, it has also been shown to increase one’s lifespan.
Sounds good, right? It sounds good to me as well...but as I think about my own incidents of generosity to strangers, I am pretty timid. Most of my generosity involves giving to people I know, or dropping off anonymous donations with a charity. As a Pastor I have sometimes been the person to deliver a particularly generous donation to a person in need, and it always feels awesome, but I think I would benefit from working more acts of generosity into my regular routine.
The one nice act I do for strangers pretty regularly is take my very friendly dog for walks downtown in heavy pedestrian areas. Like Jesus, Sasha is no respecter of persons. He happily accepts attention from anyone, no matter who they are or where they are in life.
I have come to the uncomfortable conclusion that unlike Jesus and my dog, while I say I believe in loaves and fishes, I don't do enough to act on it. Since I'm probably not the only one, I'm making that the mission for this week: to start with the phrase I believe in loaves and fishes, and...
The only limit to how you finish that sentence is your own imagination. If you have never participated in improv, don't worry about getting started. The only principle you need to know is "accept and build," which is often shorthanded as "say yes and."
Some possible ideas are:
I believe in loaves and fishes, and... I am inviting my new neighbors over for a cookout.
I believe in loaves and fishes, and... I am picking up the tab for a stranger at the store.
I believe in loaves and fishes, and... I am volunteering to do free sketches of people in the local park.
When you have completed your mission, post photos, video, stories, etc. on Twitter, Facebook, etc. with the hashtags #thechurchofyesand and #loavesandfishes.
Obligatory Disclaimer: Participation in missions of The Church of Yes And is voluntary. We are not responsible for any problems that occur as a result of your participation. We will, of course, be willing to take credit for any good stuff that happens as a result of your participation in our missions.