John 6:1 - 15
Reading the familiar passage about the feeding of the 5000 it reminds me that we all have a tremendous opportunity for growing and expanding God's ministry. The vehicle by which we can do this is called Christian Stewardship. By that I mean the way we invest and spend the resources God has placed in our care. From the reading it seems to me that there are three things that we must do when it comes to our Christian Stewardship.
First: The first thing we have to do is admit that we have a need, and that need we have is a need to give! This need to give is planted in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Jesus reminds His disciples, and us, in Matthew 10:8 "freely you have received, freely give." We may feel that what we have to offer isn't much but what ever we have we need to remember that it has been freely received from God in order that we can use it in the service of His kingdom. So the first thing we need to glean from this story is that when it comes to the resource needs of the church and its ministry, we have to first of all, consider our need as Christians to give.
Second: The second thing that we have to do when it comes to Christian Stewardship is that we should assess what we already have. What has God already given us and how can we use what we have. Jesus told his disciples to find out what was available and after they had done an inventory they found a boy with five barley loaves and two fish. That boy and his offering was there all the time all the disciples had to do was to take stock and find the resource! God had already supplied the resources needed to resolve the problem. When we start to consider the future for this church and Christ's church as a whole, the resources that will be needed to do what God wants, will be right there waiting for us to recognise them. There are many ways in which we can use the things that God has entrusted us with and I am sure that the leadership team in this and other churches would be delighted to hear about the resources we have and how we can use them to help further God's kingdom. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14 - 30 might remind us of our need to use what we have been given! So the second thing we need to do in our Christian stewardship is to assess what we already have both individually and as a church.
Third: The third and final thing we have to do is exactly what the little boy did in this reading.................... having assessed what he had, he then gave it to Jesus. Then look what happened when, whatever we have, no matter how small, is placed in Jesus hands. "Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God and passed them out to the people. Afterwards He did the same thing with the fish and they all ate until they were full." We don't know how He did it, that isn't important but what is important is that from this story we can see that God loves to take the ordinary things that we give Him and do extraordinary things with them. Because of the act of Christian stewardship by one little boy, something like 20,000 plus people (when you include the women and children) went home that day challenged, renewed and refreshed. Isn't it awesome what God can do all because of the faithfulness of one child? Can you imagine how many people could be fed, taught, clothed, loved, encouraged, be introduced to Jesus and receive eternal life with God if we all were faithful stewards. When good stewardship is practised it changes things and propels God's kingdom forward.
Almighty and most merciful father you give us so much. Help us to freely give what we have freely received so that we may offer all that you so loving give us to you Son, our Saviour, and by so doing may all that we have be used in the service of your kingdom. In Jesus name. AMEN.