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August 1, 2008
The Mother of Invention

We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.
Matthew 14:17

Whatever you have is what you have. You can't do anything with what you don't have.

This stops many people in their tracks. Overwhelmed by their debits, they are blinded to their own resourcefulness. Temporarily, most of them: Necessity takes the wheel, and mothers the invention for which she is justly famous. Don't just stand there, she says briskly, Stop your whining and use what you've got. We haven't got all day.

Where they got all that food remains a mystery -- did people fish out their own hidden lunches and share them? Or was it a showier kind of miracle? However it came about, the point of the story is this: God can work with our inauspicious beginnings. There will be no hunger in the kingdom of heaven, and we have chances to begin working out what that will look like right now. We can practice for the kingdom of heaven. We can model our lives, including many of their practicalities, upon its values.

So, if you run out of eggs, you can use substitute mayonnaise. Leave out the oil if you do that. It won't be the same, but it'll be good.

If one leg of your pantyhose runs, cut it off and save the other half. Then when one leg of another pair runs, you can so the same thing to it and put both legs on separately. Voila.

If you don't have hand weights for your workout, use a can of vegetables or a sack of flour. You can also bench press a dining room chair. You can military press one, too, but watch the chandelier.

If your beloved has gone away, you can be a kind friend to someone else in need. It won't be the same, but it'll be good.

If something that feels like half your life has failed beyond repair, cut it off. But save the other half of your life. You'll be able to use that part. Voila.

There is more than one way to live your life and more than one way to serve your God. But we don't have all day, so let's get on it.


Pentecost 12, Proper 13, Year A Genesis 32:22-31 +Psalm 17: 1-7, 16 or Isaiah 55:1-5 + Psalm 145: 8-9, 15-22
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:13-21

And here is the ERD meditation

Send the Crowds Away?

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." Jesus said to them,"They need not go away; you give them something to eat."
Matthew 14:15-16

It looks like the disciples were ready to send a crowd of hungry men, women and children stumbling off toward town in the dark in search of food. It gets dark suddenly in the desert, and there were no floodlit used car lots to navigate by in those days. The disciples must have realized how dangerous it would be for the crowd to head into town. I guess they figured that was not their problem.

Today, we are beginning to realize that there is no "away." Everything is everybody's problem. The hazards of life in poverty and war also affect the lives of those who have plenty and live in peace, even if they are far away. The search for drinkable water, for arable land, for food, for a safe place to live: these are what cause whole populations to become refugees, changing the economic and cultural life of host nations, which eventually changes the lives of everyone. There is an ecology of human need, as there is an ecology of everything else. It isn't just the case that we shouldn't "send them away." The truth is, we can't.

Christian love is all about valuing another's life as much as you value your own. Its prototype is one who loved enough to sacrifice everything for us, the beloved. This is why the Millennium Development Goals, originating from the United Nations, was recognized immediately by the Church as an eloquent economic and political expression of Christ's love for the world: the MDGs recognize the oneness all human beings share, rich and poor alike. We are all in this together. There is no getting away from one another.

This morning's story was about hunger -- MDG #1. There are many others in the gospels --stories about illness, about poverty, about work and the lack of it. Stories about farming. Stories about the dignity of women and children. You could find a story from scripture about each one of the MDGs. You could find many.

These are the MDGs. They are tall orders. A couple of them may make you think of a day when five thousand people were fed by other people, who didn't think they had enough on hand to do any good at all.
Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Achieve universal primary education
Promote gender equality and empower women
Reduce child mortality
Improve maternal health
Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
Ensure environmental sustainability
Develop a global partnership for development

On our behalf, Episcopal Relief and Development is committed to each of the Millennium Development Goals, and seriously assesses each of its programs in terms of the manner in which it furthers them.

To learn more about ERD, or to make a donation, visit or telephone 1-800-334-7626, ext 5129.
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