We Are the Miracle
The Rev. Sara Cosca-Warfield
Scripture: John 6:1-21
This scripture from John was the gospel reading at Rachel’s and my wedding. It’s not one of the suggested gospel readings in any of the Episcopal marriage liturgies, which our service was largely shaped around. (My wife is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, so compromises had to be made.)
But this gospel reading called to us. Rachel and I are both practical people, sometimes to a fault. Even as we invited our community to celebrate our love, we also recognized that committing to one another meant acknowledging that there would be difficult times. Times when our world would seem to shrink around us, trap us. Times when we would be fooled into thinking that, when problems inevitably arose, our options were limited. Times when we would feel so impossibly alone with one another.
So we turned to this particular gospel. I don’t know why we picked the loaves and fishes story from John. After all, this particular Jesus miracle is featured in all four gospels. In fact, it’s the only miracle that appears in all four gospels. It’s that important. And it was important to Rachel and me.
Because we wanted to be reminded that, even at the toughest of times, even when there seemed to be so little to sustain us, to hold us together, that even the tiniest bit of sustenance, of goodwill, of trust, of support could grow into an overflowing abundance that could nourish not only us but spill out into the world around us.
We wanted to be reminded that the moments of seeming scarcity were actually opportunities to open ourselves to God’s abundance.
Abundance, of course, was simply how Jesus was wired. Whenever he saw people trying to limit love and generosity and thriving, he undermined that effort. When the Pharisees tried to keep Jesus from healing on the Sabbath, Jesus shrugged and healed on whatever day he met someone who wanted to be healed. When he saw moneychangers exploiting people in the temple, he got angry and chased them out. And God’s abundance wasn’t just for big, serious situations. When the wine ran out at a wedding, Jesus said, “I got this” and made more so that the party could keep going.
I think it’s understandable that when Philip and Andrew looked out over the enormous crowd of people, they felt worried about taking care of them. I mean, sometimes I look out over the world, and I feel worried. That’s probably an understatement. Sometimes I look out over the world, and I feel despair.
I hear about people dying of Covid, asking with their last breaths for the vaccine that can no longer help them.
I read about the Bootleg fire in our own state, swallowing football fields worth of forest in minutes, blanketing the entire country in smoke.
I see more and more tents crowding makeshift communities on the sides of busy roads—the places people go when they have nowhere else to go.
And of course I hear the concerns from this community every week. Lung cancer. Bipolar. Political upheaval and oppression impacting people people right here at St. Luke’s. A litany of pain and uncertainty.
I feel despair. I wonder how we can possibly get through all this. How can we convince people that loving our neighbor in this time means getting vaccinated? How can we turn around climate change? What can we possible do in the face of such enormous suffering?
And you know what—Jesus despaired. In the garden at Gethsemane, he dropped to his knees in desperation and prayed. “I don’t want to suffer,” he called out as sweat rolled down his face. Jesus knew what it felt like to be drowning in uncertainty. This man who healed the sick, this who fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish, this man who walked on water. This man who performed miracle after miracle was not immune to fear.
But then he realized he had to be the miracle the world needed. In order to heal the world, he had to put his body on the line.
We don’t really believe in miracles these days. We wonder where the miracles have gone since Jesus walked this earth, since he became a miracle himself through the resurrection. And I can just hear Jesus right now saying, My body is still there. I left myself with you. You know this. You remember this every time you take communion. You are my body. Together. You are the miracle.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “To each is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” He’s talking about the Body of Christ, and how each of us has something indispensable to offer that body. It is our call to figure out what that indispensable gift is. It is our call to recognize that what each and every one of us does matters. We are the miracle.
The Body of Christ is our miraculous abundance—each one of us doing our part for the thriving of the whole body. It’s how we feed the 5,000. Heal the sick. Cast out those who would seek to exploit others.
Part of this is what Rachel and I wanted to recognize in our wedding. A marriage isn’t just the joining of two people, it’s the creation of a new community of support. We aren’t alone in nurturing our commitment—we have a whole constellation of people there to help us, to carry us through the difficult times.
Even our resting, our slowing down in this time is grounded in the miracle and abundance of the Body of Christ. We have each other’s backs. When we slow down, we trust that the rest of the body is functioning the way it should. In fact, the body is begging us to rest. Overworked legs collapse. Overworked hearts stop prematurely. The body needs each of us to take care of ourselves so that we can step into our gift when it’s needed. So that the body can give the world the miracles it needs.
Miracles have not disappeared. They’ve just transformed.
Thousands of scientists coming together to create a Covid vaccine faster than anyone could have hoped—that’s a miracle.
Millions of people coming together in the streets around the world to demand justice after George Floyd was murdered, creating a new awareness about racism and white supremacy—that’s a miracle.
Who knows what kinds of miracles this St. Luke’s community is capable of once we have the chance to rest, to discern, and to bring our gifts together. I really hope we find out.
Because miracles have not disappeared. The abundance is there. The world is just waiting for the Body of Christ to make them happen. Amen.