This is a pretty dog-friendly congregation, so most of you already know what I’m about to say: If you ever need some unconditional love, get a dog.
Our family dog is crazy about us. We do nothing special to pamper or indulge him, we don’t walk him nearly enough and we do not keep a consistent supply of treats on hand, but he still rejoices in every moment of our presence. Every time I pull up in the driveway, I see the dog waiting anxiously behind the fence in our side yard, wagging his tail as hard as he can—wagging his whole body, in fact—as I get out of the car and come closer. I say hi to him and think to myself, I’ll go in and put my stuff down and then I’ll go to the side door and let him in. Then I go in through the front door and there he is, directly across from me, looking in through the glass deck door, still wagging. It makes me laugh every time—it’s as though he just transported from the side yard to the back, fueled by the antimatter of his eagerness and affection.
In the 6th chapter of Mark’s gospel, the crowd that follows Jesus is a little bit like my dog. They follow Jesus so closely, with such enthusiasm, that they actually arrive ahead of him—improbably moving faster over land than Jesus and the disciples do over water. When Jesus gets out of the boat, there they are. Like my dog, they seem to have been transported by sheer eagerness and love—and need. In the gospels, miracles occur when people let go of all pride and follow Jesus with eager affection and trust, and when they ask him—publicly—for what they need.
This year in Adult Education, we are particularly interested in all that related to our theme: Bread. In this Sunday’s sermon, I want to ask some of the questions that theme and this gospel story raise—what’s the relationship between spiritual and physical hunger? How does feeding others feed us? Why are the miracles of feeding so crucial to the gospel story? How can we live into the story of shared abundance, with plenty to spare? I hope there are moments in the year when we can find ourselves among that eager crowd, pursuing Jesus’ presence with all that we are, finding miraculous nourishment along the way.