Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
As we have moved through the calendar year, with the monthly donation going to an organization that is doing spiritual work, I have noticed the definition of spiritual changed. It moved from being the acts of working closely with scripture, to action that includes scripture. Although, the inclusion is not the actual use of scripture it is seeing the actions that Jesus asks of us put into action. This shift has also forced me to look closely at different organizations, to see who is included more than just words, but also in action. There is a lot of power in words, but even more power in action.
It is within the act of inclusion, that we become diverse and then the action is toward one of unity. Of learning how each of our common threads can link to one another. Which can include a little discomfort while figuring out how to change how things were good, to how things can be better. However, this encourages thinking to move from scarcity. To remember, when we are able to reach outward to all people, while giving thanks for what we have been given and then meeting the needs of everyone present, we become stronger as a whole than if we remain separate.
Just as in John 6:1-14, Jesus did not sit people in the grass by the clothes they wore, their gender or gender identity, if they had children or not, nor by their nationality. They were all asked to sit on the grass, for each person to receive the same food. Everyone received the same thing. That is unity in action, of giving the opportunity to lift everyone where they are together, without leaving anyone off to the side.
This months giving is the Skid Row Carnival of Love that is a part of the Wayfarer Foundation and a one day service carnival in Los Angeles. Please, go to check them out, the service provided in one day is mind boggling. They reach everyone, with each person receiving what they need in that moment to lift them out of a place of feeling invisible or forgotten about. They provide medical care, jobs, food and so on. These people are not divided out, with one receiving different opportunities, they were met where they are and what their needs were.
The mission statement begins with this; “Our mission is to transform the way our community responds to the needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
We aim to unify existing communities by creating unique experiences that uplift, empower, and enhance the lives of those who are experiencing homelessness.”. The words, empower and uplift stand out to me. What stands out to you? As a person who has experienced brief homelessness twice, it made a difference when opportunities included me without restriction, helped empower me and made the most difference.
The difference I am seeing as we move into the second half of the year, I am looking more closely for inclusion and unity. There is more than a blanket inclusion, because to move toward unity we have to also allow part of ourselves to change and vice versa. This is living in the vulnerability Jesus demonstrated for us, that enables us to change our lives as we help to also create visibility with welcome inclusion, moving into unity.
Take a moment to look at organizations that you are drawn to or support, either financially or with volunteer hours. Do they include everyone? If they do include; Is there visible representation? Are they also heard where they are? Are people being empowered or maintained? How does unity look and feel?