Did you get into sourdough making during the pandemic? I didn’t, but I know a surprising number of people who did. I personally turned to making my grandmother’s banana bread, probably for similar reasons. Seeing the recipe in her handwriting, gave me a connection to her and therefore all the family I missed being with during the lockdown. Using bananas that were otherwise too ripe to consume, gave me some weird sense of control in such an uncontrollable situation. Sharing the bread with others, let me feel like I was multiplying joy and dividing grief (as Anglican priest and creator of the Alpha Series, Nicky Gumbel says). So much of this pandemic time has multiplied grief… and anger… and fear… and frustration. Banana bread seemed to multiply joy… and connection… and grace… and fulfillment.
I imagine something similar happened in the Gospel story we hear this week (John 6:1-15) where a little boy shared his lunch of bread and fish. Jesus multiplied the food, but he multiplied so much more as he did. He multiplied joy… and connection… and grace… and fulfillment. As the COVID numbers rise and the Delta variant wreaks havoc grief, anger, fear, and frustration, how are we called to multiply differently. No, this isn’t some “new math” the kids are learning. It’s God’s math that calls us to multiply joy and divide sorrow, that calls us to see plenty in the face of want, that calls us to share rather than hoard, that calls us into the abundant life God offers.