July 22 2018 CCC John 6: 1-21
I love a good story. There was a time where people told more stories, around the campfire, the hearth, around the table. Maybe you remember, earlier times, an uncle, an aunt, who could spin a good story. My dad could, but that part of him only came out when he was a grandfather.
Today, the art of storytelling has been replaced by movies, TV. Excellent stories are told but it is not quite the same thing. In the past, anyone, could become a story teller, and any gathering could become the opportunity to tell a good story.
Today, I want to teach you how you can become a story teller. I want to teach you how to tell your own story.
You see today’s gospel reading tells us 2 stories, the feeding of the 5000, which is the only story found in each of the four gospels, and the story of Jesus walking on the water to the disciples stuck on the sea of Galilee when a storm struck.
To help you learn to tell your story, we are going to look at these two stories asking three questions, which you will use looking at your own story. What were the needs? What was the encounter? And finally, what was their interpretation? Let’s look briefly at these two stories.
First, the feeding of the 5000. We know the story. People were flocking to hear Jesus, to be cured by Jesus. They were yearning for a leader, but specifically here, they were hungry.
What was the encounter? What happened? With just a few loafs of bread and a couple of fish, they are fed. Jesus was not wasteful and tells the disciples to gather up the leftovers. Twelve baskets of left overs are collected.
Now, how did the people interpret the encounter? The people saw it as a sign that Jesus was the man of the hour, the leader they expected. They would make him King. That was not part of Jesus plans, and he skipped out.
The needs are, hungry people, in many senses of the word.
The encounter is, Jesus feeding them.
The interpretation then is, they wanted to be led by him as king.
A story then is told.
Now, let’s look at the second story. To get away from the crowds, Jesus has withdrawn to the mountain. By evening, the disciples have left him and have gone into a boat to cross the Sea of Tiberias, also called the Sea of Galilee. A sudden storm blows up, which actually does happen. Many years ago, I visited Israel and I was in Galilee one evening walking on a promenade by the sea when suddenly a wind storm picked up. I realized then, the reality of this type of sudden weather change, how sudden and terrifying it could be.
Going back to the story, what were the disciples’ needs? They were no doubt struggling, likely anxious, if not afraid, what with the sudden storm. When here comes Jesus, walking on the water towards them. Now at this point, the story tells us they were TERRIFIED.
What does Jesus do? He reassures them, and tells them, it is I, do not be afraid.
They respond by bringing him on board. Drawing him, closer to them. And it seemed, like just in an instant, they were back on shore.
The needs then are, a group of struggling, afraid, terrified disciples.
The encounter then is, Jesus coming to them reassuring them.
Their interpretation then is, to draw him closer, and then, all was well.
Another story then is told.
Now with these two stories showing us the way, it is time to turn the questions on yourselves so you can prepare your own story.
Can you remember a time where you were going through a difficult time in your life? I don’t need to give you any suggestions. We can answer that one pretty easily.
What was your need? What were you feeling?
Now how did you get through it? What changed? Were there people who made the difference, a helping hand, a mentor, a guide, a shoulder to lean on?
Those things that happen to us that help us get through the difficult times, in ways we cannot fathom, are Jesus who has come, saying Be not afraid, I am with you. Are you hungry, have you got financial needs, here take this, let me give you a hand.
If we are to tell our story, we have to be able to see where we have had these encounters with the divine breaking into our lives when we were in need. I am not talking angels, I am talking people, who were there for you. They were there because Christ was there.
And I am not limiting it to just good Christians, I am talking about anyone who was there for you when you were in need. Christ is not limited by religion, or lack of it. Christ comes to us in our need and prompts the people needed.
How did Jesus come to you in your time of need?
Now I recognize that for some people here, talking about Jesus coming to you, is hard to comprehend. If that is the case, use the word Christ, or God, or the transcendent, or even a greater power. It does not matter what you call it. What is important is that you recognize when you have also entered the Story.
Think now, about that time and name it for what it is, Name the encounter with the divine.
The last step then is what we have been doing. Each one of you have been interpreting the moment, looking back, seeing how Christ helped you through. As you do, you have entered the big STORY.
Your story becomes another story to add to the Gospel stories. It becomes a story you can tell, first of all, to yourself, and maybe a story that will encourage and others, of God’s love for you.
Sisters and brothers on the journey, the gospel stories today invite us to look back on our own lives to recognize when in our need Christ was there.
The Gospel stories invite us to enter into the STORY of God continuing to save because the story of salvation continues on in each one of our lives.