The staggering abundance of God

Aug. 25, 2008

by Rev. Marianne Zitzewitz, Mount Hermon Lutheran Church, Annandale

Recently, a very busy week of vacation Bible school ended at our church. All week long, the children have been singing, playing, learning stories about Jesus, and filling the church basement with crafts and glitter. It was a wonderful week!

There is something beautiful about the way a child’s imagination can take hold of the stories of the Bible and make them come alive.

Their eyes grow wide when Jesus breaks five loaves of bread and two little fish until there is enough to feed 5,000 people and more.

They gasp when Jesus walks on the stormy waves of the sea.

They sigh in sympathy with the man who could not walk before Jesus healed him.

They smile, and even cheer, when Jesus makes all 10 lepers well, so they can go home again.

Unfortunately, we adults often lose the ability to enter into Bible stories with our whole imagination. Either because we have given up some of that childishness, or simply because we have heard the stories so many times that we don’t think about them much, the stories can lose their impact.

In fact, as one church member and I were discussing the other day, sometimes we even start to think of certain Bible stories as “children’s stories.” But if we think of some Bible stories as only children’s stories, then we can miss deeper levels of meaning which the stories contain for us adults, too.

When Jesus breaks five loaves of bread and two little fish to feed 5,000 people and more, children’s eyes grow round and amazed at the huge things Jesus can do. Do we adults have that same round-eyed, amazed reaction at the “huge-ness” of God?

Often, we adults find ourselves thinking of God in ways that are actually pretty small and limited. We forget that God is so much bigger than we can imagine, and so much more than we could ever even hope for. We forget the staggering abundance of God’s generosity and love.

So I’m glad when vacation Bible school comes around again, because then we get to hear the Bible stories through children’s ears, with fresh wonder. We’re reminded of what God can do with just a few bites of bread – or with just a handful of people. And it’s huge!

Even our tired, old eyes can grow round again with wonder, because when Jesus passes out the bread and fish, there’s enough for everyone. Even you. And even me.