Jesus, in His feeding of the crowds, seeks to help the disciples to understand their calling and to become instruments for teaching His revolutionary message. God’s power is not limited by human circumstances and material shortcomings but actually demonstrates His power within and through these human limitations. The miracles of Jesus were really exhibited how mighty humans can become if willing to allow the power of God to work within and through us. From the days of Abraham in the Old Testament to St. John the Divine in the Book of Revelation, there lies a compilation of humanities’ ability to overcome the most extraneous circumstances if space is provided for God’s power to become activated.
Christianity, at its very heart, is about the uncompromising call to discover our true nature in spite of our possible shortcomings or fallen nature. Several Old and New Testament readings reveal this particular understanding when we witness Jacob becoming Israel; no longer a man fleeing from his past, but one willing to walk boldly to encounter his greatest fears, or Paul, in the letter to the Romans, reveals his new identity; an identity no longer grounded in his Jewish heritage, but in his newly discovered faith in Jesus Christ. This is a profound concept which takes a human face in the household of Philemon as he wrestles with his relationship with Onesimus, an ex-slave and a Christian. Christianity nurtures an astonishing personal and societal transformation.
Sadly, when Europeans discovered Christianity, this radical message became suppressed to that of economic well-being and political power. Christianity became a tool of sinful divisive teachings. The new Christians developed theological conceptions which introduced ideas of the limitations or lack of God’s presence within those whose skin color was black or brown. The church provided a theological support for the White European imperial power structure built upon a lie sanctioning the ownership of flesh; of black and brown skin being property and white skin being free. Now, salvation had a color; Jesus became white, all angels were white, Resurrection became a white liturgical power and heaven was a promise fulfilled after being washed and becoming white as snow. Seminaries and theological writings reinforced those teachings and prepared clergy and church leaders to reinforce this evil. The posturing in the front of St. John’s Episcopal Church is the natural flow of conditioning which cannot be erased by glib denials.
Now the scales like those of St. Paul has fallen off our eyes; the lie is now fully revealed. “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again. So, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh.” (2 Cor.15 &16) Many recent articles are sharing how the Covid-19 virus lock-downs have allowed many Christians to see the truth of the insidious nature of systemic racial inequalities that leave one to question the integrity of our white clergy colleagues. What is now evident leaves one to question the worth and value of sitting in convocations or Diocesan conventions with white clergy who quickly return to their segregated communities only to reinforce the evils and dangers of a bad theology lacking a Biblical basis.
Now increasingly Christians are hearing Jesus saying, “they need not go away let’s share a meal together.” Let’s gather together around Jesus and no longer slip away into the comforts of our divisive communities. These words lie at the heart of His message. For too long we have been taught it was all about the meal, but Thanksgiving celebrations should be greater than what is on the menu. The Feeding of 5000 is a call for us to live in communion with each other through Christ Jesus. We no longer need to slip into our segregated communities where churches and the quality of schools are decided by our zip code but by our true identity as being in and of Christ Jesus. Can our white clergy take a knee and sit with us at the feet of Jesus?