Five loaves and two fish, that's all it took to be a good neighbor!
It had been a long day and the people had been listening to a rabbi (teacher) speaking. As far as we know most hadn't prepared a meal to bring with them and they were hungry! What were they to do?
The teacher had an idea! He asked his followers for advice and they were NO HELP! But the teacher had an idea. He called over a little boy who had a lunch with five small loaves of bread and two small fish. It couldn't have been much as it was his lunch.
The teacher had those assembled sit down in groups of fifty. He then blessed the food. He and His followers passed out the food. When everyone had had enough, they collected the remains and there were twelve baskets left that day. The number that was fed was about five thousand men (we don't know how many women and children there were in the group). This teacher was of course, Jesus! This history is of course the feeding of the 5,000!
Just think what Jesus did with so little!
It was a tough year and many friends and family are no longer around They have died, due to the extreme living conditions. They were among strangers who seem to be kind and helpful. Many speak a different language than they did; thankfully, there are those among them that understand your language.
They wanted to invite them to join as they gave thanks to the God, they know to be true. Yet this group of strangers didn't worship the same. They weren't certain they would join in the celebration. If these new-found friends do show up, there might not be enough food.
Yet, that is what happened 487 years ago in 1621, when the Pilgrims gathered together to give thanks that the LORD brought them through the harsh winter of 1620. Half of their family and friends had died. The LORD showed them the compassion of the Wampanoag Native Americans when they, the Pilgrims, were strangers in a strange land.
The Pilgrims were escaping religious persecution in England. The Pilgrims were scared. This was a new, unknown place.
The Wampanoags did not see the Pilgrims as a threat because they had seen many ships come and go. What was different with this group was that the Pilgrims brought their women and children with them. What they did for the Pilgrims in befriending them was part of their culture. As a result, both groups ended up working together that first year.
The Pilgrims knew that the only way they were able to survive the year of hardship was by the Grace of God. When they decided to give thanks to the LORD, it was natural to share this with their helpers - the Wampanoags. What the Pilgrims did not expect was the arrival of more than 90 Wampanoags.
The Wampanoags did not arrive empty handed. They made sure there was enough food for all. Again, the LORD provided. They turned a little into a lot.
The sharing & togetherness, the reaching out to one another was an example of "loving their neighbor" even though they were from very different backgrounds.
The Pilgrims had to make many choices in their lives for their families. These choices ended in tragedy in at least half of the families. They faced the unknown with the KNOWN - the KNOWN GOD. This is what took them through their first year and many more years.
We too have many choices to make as we face the unknown with our KNOWN God.
This Thanksgiving season, your children are choosing to bring in nonperishable items for people they don't know, for people they know won't have as much. They are being good neighbors, "Good Samaritans"! Let us always remember to give thanks to the LORD and to teach our children to reach out to those that need us.
Our children know who their neighbors are. They are those the LORD has called them to help. They have answered the call, "Here am I, send me!"
Our LORD was able to make a lot out of the little with the loaves & fish, simply through His word. The Wampanoags were able to make a lot out of a little with the Pilgrims simply out of their adding what they had to what the Pilgrims had.
Let us let the LORD use us to make a lot out of a little.
Vicki Helmling is a teacher at Grace English Lutheran School