Hands of Christ

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2017 Benefit Concert Homily

Posted by [email protected] on July 30, 2017 at 7:15 PM

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand (NIV) JOHN 6: 1-16

John 6:1 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 Jesus asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, Jesus said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

 

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

                                                                         ************************

 

There was a need. The people were hungry. Jesus did something about it thanks to a small donation from one unknown yet now famous boy with two small fish and 5 small loaves of barley, probably more like muffins. With that a miracle came about.

 

Fish and loaves multiplied and 5,000 were served --- and that wasn’t counting the women and children that were present. If you use Mr. Frye’s magic multiplier of 2.3 that would come to 11,500 people.

 

There was a need. The children needed clothes and school supplies.

 

In 2002, two pastors talked about that need and what their two congregations could do to try to meet that need.

 

Five adults and three youth traveled to Austin, TX to El Buen Pastor Presbyterian Church to observe the back-to-school distribution of Manos de Cristo. They observed, talked, prayed, and decided that we could replicate that program here in Charleston. Two congregations, Westminster and Zion Olivet, came together to form the anglicized version of Manos de Cristo, the Hands of Christ.

 

Originally thinking that we could serve a couple of hundred children with our “two fish and five loaves”, it suddenly multiplied with the help of a grant from the Presbyterian Women’s Thank Offering, and miracle of miracles, we served 1006 children that first year.

 

Multiplication kept taking place. First (Scots), Edisto, and Hebron Zion came on board. Then Moncks Corner and Mount Pleasant, followed by Park Circle and Saint James in partnership with James Island and Harbor View. Add in Sunrise and Palmetto and others. Before long, we had over two dozen congregations supporting this program.

 

We went from just over 1000 to 2000 children per year, and then 3000, and then 4000. Last year we served 4692 children, and cumulatively we have served 48,000 children in these 14 years since 2003. While that number is impressive, more important is the number one. That’s how many children we focus on at a time, one child, be it William or Grace, Shaquille or Shania, Jose or Maria as we show them Christ’s love and hospitality.

 

4692 last year. When Mr. Frye sat down with his team to do the planning for this year, realizing that we were adding an Orangeburg distribution plus an extra day in North Charleston at Zion Olivet, it became clear that we could well hit the 5,000 mark this year.

 

5,000 children. Sometimes just two in the back seat seems like an awful lot! 5,000 children. That means 10,000 shirts, 10,000 pairs of pants or shorts or skirts or skorts, 10,000 pairs of socks, and 10,000 sets of underwear. 10,000 glue sticks, 40,000 pencils, 50,000 pens. A miracle indeed.

 

People often ask how we do it. I simply respond that it is the work of the Holy Spirit because we didn’t exactly know what we were doing when we started and at times I’m not sure we know what we are doing now!

 

I also tell them that it’s been a “loaves and fish” operation. Thanks to a few grants each year, but more importantly thanks to the God’s grace via the generosity of our congregations and of individuals, we’ve never had to worry about money. God has kept providing. Now, that doesn’t mean for folks to stop contributing, this six-figure operation needs to keep on going. We don’t have 12 basketfuls of leftovers at the end, but we have enough to get a good start on the subsequent year.

 

Jesus took the loaves and fish and after he blessed it the distribution was made.

 

I’m certainly no Jesus, and our distributions have already started, but I want to thank you and bless you. It’s because of, most importantly God’s grace, exhibited through your generosity of time, talents, and treasure, that we are able to do this year after year.

 

Thanks be to God!

Amen.

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