“More Than Enough”
13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15 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.” 16 Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14:13-21, NRSV)
Helping a child find their ideal Halloween costume is not for the faint of heart. Perusing rows and rows of endless costumes at the seasonal Halloween store sounds fun in theory. But with an indecisive child in tow, it often quickly morphs into moments of emotional turmoil and seven-year- old angst. After what seems like hours, my second grader Charlotte finally settles on a non-generic choice – a pink donut with sprinkles costume. Glancing at the price tag and seeing that the price is right and with her assuredness this is the one, I exclaim aloud “we have a winner”. I bolt for the checkout before she can change her mind. The car ride home however is filled with emerging doubt and a 20 minute interrogation occurs. Mom, “Do you like my costume?” “Do you think my friends will like my costume?” “Do you think people will make fun of me?” “Do you think it’s silly?” “Do you think I made a good choice?” “Do you think I should get something else?” “Mom, mom! What do you think?” In a mom moment of complete and utter aggravation, I nonchalantly answer her, “Of course you made a good choice, Char! It’ll be fine.”
Later that afternoon as my frustration subsided, I began to realize a deep truth. My daughter’s angst and uncertainty were not about a Halloween costume. Her genuine questions to me in those moments were simply asking “Mom, am I enough?”
We live in a world that perpetually tells us we exist with great lack. We are told there is not enough. We are continually bombarded with messages that we are not enough. A perceived scarcity drives our fears. It divides us and prohibits us from a life of love. We are fearful there will not be enough money. We’re fearful there won’t be enough jobs. We’re fearful there won’t be enough time. We’re fearful there won’t be enough to eat. We’re fearful there won’t be enough in the retirement fund. We’re fearful there won’t be enough to go around. And then there are the messages that remind us of our personal lack. The messages that chip away at the very essence of who we are. We are told will never be smart enough, rich enough, pretty enough, or funny enough. We fear that we will never be enough to those in our lives. We fear we will never be enough particularly to those who love us and who know us intimately and fully.
In our scripture lesson this morning we witness a perceived scarcity become more than enough. Jesus is grieving his cousin’s death and withdraws by boat to a deserted place. Word spreads quickly that Jesus is near and the crowds desperate for their own individual healings follow him. The text tells us that as Jesus looks ashore, that he sees a great crowd of people gathered. Jesus does not retreat from them. He doesn’t send them away. He has compassion for them. He heals their wounds. He listens to their stories. He stays with the people – his own grieving spirit present to each moment. Later in the evening the disciples come to Jesus in an assumed rescue of him from the crowds and the noise. The disciples in essence say to Jesus, “Look, it’s late. We’re hungry. We’re sure you’re hungry and there’s no food here in this deserted place. Send the people home and tell them to go and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus says to them, “There’s no need to send them back. We can all stay together and have dinner, right here.” The disciples say to him, “Jesus there isn’t enough. Let’s be real here.” Jesus says, “How much do you have?” “A few loaves of bread and fish”, they respond. Jesus settles the crowd on the ground; lifts the food and blesses it. Jesus distributes the food, first to the disciples and then on to the masses gathered. The text tells us that “all ate and were filled and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.” Today’s story reminds us that a perceived scarcity just might in the end be more than enough with God.
Our world today feels much like the gathering of the crowds before Jesus. We too sense excessive lack of not only the physical and material, but a void of compassion and love so it seems. We live our lives more often from places of fear rather than places of love. One woman from Oklahoma is attempting to fill those gaps for many with acceptance and compassion.
One CBS news article reports, “Sara Cunningham, a mother from Oklahoma, wrote on Facebook [recently] "If you need a mom to attend your same sex wedding because your biological mom won't; call me. I'm [here]." When she first wrote the post, she didn't imagine how far her offer would go. But now, she has gone viral as a stand-in mom.”
The mother of a gay son herself, in 2014, Cunningham and her husband attended a pride parade in their state. She states, "We stood with our son at a pride parade in Oklahoma City. It was my first interaction with the community and I was so alienated from by my own ignorance and my own fear ... And I realized this was a beautiful community." She went back to the parade in 2015 and this time made her own button to wear. "Free Mom Hugs," her pin read. "Anyone who made eye contact with me, I'd say, 'Can I offer you a free mom hug or high five?' And I went home with glitter all over me." It wasn't all glitter and hugs at the pride parade, she said. Members of the LGBTQ community told her about the rejection from their families that they had suffered. "I heard horror stories that would haunt me," she said.
Now, Cunningham runs her own Facebook group for mothers, inspired by her pride parade pins. The "Free Mom Hugs" page offers other moms advice and hopes to educate parents on the LGBTQ community. She said over 3,000 people have joined and helped spread her movement of attending pride festivals and offering "mom hugs." For anyone that is serious about inviting her to their wedding, Cunningham said: "I'll be your biggest fan. I'll even bring the bubbles." Cunningham said the members of her "Free Mom Hugs" organization visit "churches, colleges, hospitals...we're helping in any area that we can." As for fathers, Cunningham said they are more than welcome in the "Free Mom Hugs" group. "When we have dads walk with us in the pride parades, we have kids going over the barricades to get hugs from these dads," she said. "We encourage dads, friends and advocates to walk with us."
October 11th is National Coming Out Day – and this October marks the 30 year anniversary. As a church family, we remember today those who have lived their lives with a sense that they are not enough. As people walking the way of Christ’s love we reach out to fill the gaps in our world where fear resides. We look not only around us but within us to places where fear feeds our insecurities. We speak truth not only to our souls but to those who walk life with us. I am enough. You are enough. This is the message of Christ. On this World Communion Sunday, we remember that God calls each of us to gather around love’s vast table. Some of us come to the table broken and bruised. Some of us come to the table fearful but longing for peace. Some of us gather around the table lonely and in need of community. Some of us come to the table with joy and gratitude. We are reminded on this day that there is enough to go around.
Jan Richardson expresses this notion beautifully as she writes;
“And the table
will be wide.
And the welcome
will be wide.
And the arms
will open wide
to gather us in.
And our hearts
will open wide
And we will come
as children who trust
there is enough.
And we will come
unhindered and free.
And our aching
will be met
And our sorrow
will be met
And we will open our hands
to the feast
And we will turn
toward each other
And we will give up
And we will taste
And we will become bread
for a hungering world.
And we will become drink
for those who thirst.
And the blessed
will become the blessing.
will be the feast.
Gather church family to the table of love. You are enough. We are enough. With God there is more than enough. May it be so. Amen.
God of all Nations,
We give You thanks that we are all made in Your image, with such rich diversity. On this day we are in solidarity with the faithful around the world. As we break bread together, we remember that we are still one body in You, even though we have different languages, cultures and traditions, different ways of worship, praying and praising. In solidarity we drink the cup together of hope, of new life, knowing that Your will is for Your people to be one body. We are one body, but we are not the same—it is through the gift of diversity that we are able to be Your body. We thank You and praise You for making us all who we are, individually and collectively.
We pray for the condition of our world this morning. We pray that where there is violence, we would find a peaceful solution. We pray that where there is hunger and thirst, we would find resources to quench and to satisfy. We pray for those separated from family and loved ones on this day. Bless those O God, that they might sense your peace. Help us realize and sense our connectedness as humanity.
We pray for our church family.
Direct our hearts and minds during this time. Inspire us to new levels of faith. Draw us closer to you. In the name of Christ we pray, Amen.
Adapted from a prayer from www.rev-o-lution.org.
 Richardson, Jan; And the Table Will Be Wide
A Blessing for World Communion Sunday