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Enough Is Enough (Brueggemann)

“In feeding the hungry crowd, Jesus reminds us that the wounds of scarcity can be healed only by faith in God’s promise of abundance. “

by Walter Brueggemann

We live in a world where the gap between scarcity and abundance grows wider every day. Whether at the level of nations or neighborhoods, this widening gap is polarizing people, making each camp more and more suspicious and antagonistic toward the other. But the peculiar thing, at least from a biblical perspective, is that the rich–the ones with the abundance–rely on an ideology of scarcity, while the poor–the ones suffering from scarcity–rely on an ideology of abundance. How can that be? The issue involves whether there is enough to go around–enough food, water, shelter, space. An ideology of scarcity says no, there’s not enough, so hold onto what you have. In fact, don’t just hold onto it, hoard it. Put aside more than you need, so that if you do need it, it will be there, even if others must do without. An affirmation of abundance says just the opposite: Appearances notwithstanding, there is enough to go around, so long as each of us takes only what we need. In fact, if we are willing to have but not hoard, there will even be more than enough left over. The Bible is about abundance. From the first chapters of Genesis, God not only initiates abundance–calling forth plants and fish and birds and animals–but promises continued abundance by commanding them to “increase and multiply” (1:22). God’s generosity and fidelity reach their climax on the sixth day, when God proclaims a sufficiency for “everything that has the breath of life” and declares all this “very good” (1:30


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  1. […] Signs of unlimited generosity are abundant and visible, leaving no room for the mistaken notion of scarcity. We don’t experience the world that way. But Mark’s Gospel suggests that this is because we, like the disciples, are not clear about the limitless generosity of God. The disciples were not convinced that seven loaves were more than enough to feed four thousand. Chances are, they were worried that if they started distributing the bread, there wouldn’t be enough to go around. They did not grasp generosity and gratitude and abundance. We see this later in the same chapter, when the disciples are out in a boat with Jesus. Mark tells us that they “had forgotten to bring any bread” (8:14). They no longer remembered one critical truth: that Jesus is in the generosity business. Jesus notices this and says, “Watch out–beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod” (8:15). The Pharisees are the parsimonious ones who want to ration everything. The Herodians are like Pharaoh, they want to monopolize everything and store it up and administer it. And Jesus is warning them: Watch out for their junk food. If you eat it long enough, you will think and act the way they do. Apparently this puzzles the disciples; they keep murmuring about the bread they forgot. Jesus hears their whispering, and he blasts them with rapid-fire questions that are really accusations. “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?” (8:17-18). Have you forgotten, Jesus seems to ask, that abundance has vetoed scarcity? Or are you still back with Pharaoh, who never thought he had enough and wound up with a hardened heart? The questioning continues: “When I fed five thousand with just five loaves, how many were left over?” They answer: “Twelve!” “When I fed four thousand with seven loaves, how many were left over?” “Seven!” The disciples are really good at concrete, operational, statistical stuff, but they cannot negotiate from the line items to the big picture. So Jesus ends up asking–in one of the most pathos-filled lines of all scripture–”Do you not yet understand?” Walter Brueggemann, Enough Is Enough. […]

    Posted by February 15 | dailydynamite | February 15, 2011, 11:10 pm
  2. […] (3) Walter Brueggemann, The Other Side Online, © 2001 The Other Side, November-December 2001, Vol. 37, No. 5.  Copies available from the pastor upon request.  Found online at: http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/1181.htm […]

    Posted by February 6, 2011 Sermon & Podcast « Pastor Allen's Blog | February 7, 2011, 10:41 pm