Pastor’s Email Devotion
The Week of Epiphany 5
February 7, 2016
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ (John 6:8-9, NRSV)
The game is called “Wink.” It is a distant relative of musical chairs I suppose, and is a classic retreat game. Most camp counselors know it well. You have a number of chairs in a circle, with a kid standing behind each one. All the chairs themselves are filled with other kids, except one. The way that empty chair gets filled is by the kid behind it who winks at other seated kids trying to lure them to the empty chair. The kid behind that chair can grab the kid’s shoulders if quick enough to keep them right where they are. Then the winker looks elsewhere. Savvy players know this is a game of stealth and speed not strength. As soon as you are losing your kid to another chair, your eye is on the prowl to connect with another kid sitting, and if they are on the ball, your wink brings a body back to your empty chair. Kids who play this a lot get to a point where someone is almost always on the move, because the eyes are typically a little quicker than the hands.
The interesting sub-plot to the game is how you understand the action going on around you. Some kids look at their chair recently vacated by a fellow camper, as can only see “scarcity.” They have a hole they need to fill, and typically waste the few seconds they have with sighing and moaning over the fact that they have lost their chair occupant. The sharp kids “lose a kid to a wink” and instead look at the entire venue of chairs, and see an “abundant” landscape of potential denizens for their momentarily empty chair. Those are the players who rarely have their chair empty for very long. They adopt a kind of “so many kids … so little time to wink” philosophy. They are the rock stars of the Wink world.
Silly camp game? Sure. A safe way for kids to make some modest physical contact with each other, within clear boundaries? Absolutely. That’s why it is a classic camp game. But it is also a metaphor for life. When you open your eyes upon the world, what do you see? A paucity of resources that must be fought over? Or a rich landscape that God has filled with more resources and opportunities than you could ever need? The world sees the former. The “scarcity prophets” will tell you that there is only so much to go around and you have to grab for every last item on the shelf. Picture the bread aisle at the market the day before a snow storm. In counterpoint, those with a sense of God’s vision in their lives, serve as our “abundance prophets.” They see the world through God’s eyes, and recognize that between the riches God pours upon us, and the innate sense of what we truly need for a healthy life, there is always more to go around than we actually need. Think the boy in the story of the Feeding of the 5,000 that we reference above. Pray this week to be a person of abundance. Wink at the world, and recognize that the options with which your gracious God has blessed you, are as limitless as this world allows. Then use these gifts in ways that point to this God of abundance.
God of all, you provide for our every need … you offer strength in every struggle … you bless me with hope when my spirit falters. Accept my thanks for all you do for me every day, and the rich layers of blessing that you place within my reach. Teach me to embody that same spirit of abundance in my service, that you have modeled for me in your gracious love. For I ask this in the name of the one who has made it possible by his life, death and resurrection. Amen.