Is it possible for people, and even for a whole society, to lose faith in God? ... [If] it happens, [it is] not primarily because something they used to think existed does not after all exist, but because the available language about God has been allowed to become too narrow, stale and spiritually obsolete ... the work of creative religious personalities is continually to enrich, to enlarge and sometimes to purge the available stock of religious symbols and idioms ... (The Sea of Faith, 1984)



... people of different periods and cultures differ very widely; in some cases so widely that accounts of the nature and relations of God, men and the world put forward in one culture may be unacceptable, as they stand, in a different culture ... a situation of this sort has arisen ... at about the end of the eighteenth century a cultural revolution of such proportions broke out that it separates our age sharply from all ages that went before (The Use and Abuse of the Bible, 1976)

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The Feeding of the Gathering

Matthew 14.20  Everyone ate and had enough.

The setting here is a group of people gathered around and listening to Jesus speak. They were so moved by what he had to say that no one wanted to leave. They began to get rather hungry and saw Jesus attempting to feed them all with just a few bits and pieces of food.

Inspired both by his words and by his generosity they put what little food they had into the bowl as it went past and took out just a little less than they had put in.

The message is simple. We can waste a lot of time trying to affirm the extraordinary nature of this miracle story. The real answer is much more down-to-earth. The miracle was not the production of food out of nothing. Rather, it was that the crowd was so moved by what they were part of that they began to exercise a spirit of generosity as well.

Some might say this lessens the miracle. It is equally possible to say that the miracle is enhanced and that it is a direct challenge that the everyday activities of our times are miraculous. The things that we share from within this creation are profound and beautiful.

The introduction to a book of Teilhard de Chardin's meditations was written by someone who as a child had met Teilhard by chance in New York's Central Park.

She used to cross Central Park to get to school. She recalled meeting this strange but wonderful man who would walk and talk with her for a small part of her journey to school. She remembered being fascinated by the way they would talk about things and that how, without warning, he would fall to the floor because he had seen a caterpillar or worm or some other creature. Then the next few minutes he would share his wonder at these beautiful and complex pieces of creation. She was moved by his love of the ordinary and by his passion for creation.

The crowd which gathered to hear Jesus was no doubt likewise so moved by what they were hearing and seeing that they chose to participate in the generous act of sharing food. This was, and still is, a miracle.

It is far more powerful to realise that we can change those around us through our actions or words than by using some mysterious power that is outside our normal world.

The central message of Jesus says that this world is good, that our lives and the lives of every bit of creation around us are precious and wonderful. This is a mammoth difference from the theology that saturates so much of our biblical literature.

Thank God for the miracle of the human spirit and its ability to change and to build a better world.

This is the stuff of real miracles.

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