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Miracles - Monday Musing, August 3, 2020

Dear Church,

Miracles. Yesterday’s passage from the Gospel of Matthew telling the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand still has me thinking about miracles.

If a miracle is defined as “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs,” then was the Feeding of the Five Thousand a miracle? The text does not specifically tell us that there was divine intervention that led to feeding the gathered crowd. And the disciples do not seem overly surprised that not only was there enough food to feed all the people, but also there were twelve baskets of leftovers.

Perhaps the disciples were not surprised by these events. Jesus had changed water into wine, for example, so it should come as no surprise to the disciples that poof, out of nowhere, Jesus could somehow pull off satisfying the tour bus of people clamoring for the blue plate special.

Do you believe in miracles? Or are you like Barbara Brown Taylor who believes the problem with miracles is that “we tend to get mesmerized by them, focusing on God’s responsibility and forgetting our own?” Taylor says that “miracles let us off the hook. They appeal to the part of us that is all too happy to let God feed the crowd, save the world, do it all.”

If the details of how the crowd was fed were included in the text, would we still call the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand a miracle? Is the story included in scripture because we are supposed to presume a miracle, and even though we did not witness the miraculous events, our faith teaches us that “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe?"

What miracles have you witnessed that caused you to believe that divine intervention is the only possible explanation? Or perhaps you have never witnessed a miracle and are a skeptic who thinks all this miracle stuff makes a nicer story to tell?

Is it a miracle that your loved one was cured of cancer? Was it a miracle that someone created a drug that was used to cure the cancer? Was divine intervention involved? If the answer is you do not know, then you are not alone. Not every story is a miracle, and not every miracle is from God.

It is interesting to ponder miracles, but perhaps being preoccupied with miracles does focus too much on God’s role and not enough on our role in the story? As followers of the One who performed many miracles that are recorded in scripture, we are blessed even though we have “not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now that is something to think about.




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