What do you not have enough of?    If you had enough, how much would that be?

When I was a working parent with young children I didn’t have enough sleep or time for myself.  I dreamt of being able to crawl into bed at 7pm and not worry about the dishes, the laundry and the bedtime routines.  At times I would lock myself in my bathroom and call it my “mommy time-out” just to get a few minutes by myself.  Now, that my children are older, I wish I had more time with them.

Then there is the issue of money.  I live in a well-to-do suburb in a beautiful home with overflowing closets and a stocked pantry, but I continue to wish for more.  Not because I need more, but because I have been shaped by a consumer culture that implicitly reminds me that I am not enough until I have more. I feel at times that I am held hostage by the lie that there is not enough of anything to go around, and it is my job to squirrel away as much as possible to ensure the security of my family.

But truly, is this what life is all about?

A few weeks ago my faith community pondered the story of Jesus feeding 4,000 people.  When Jesus suggests to the disciples that they had an obligation to feed these people who have had nothing to eat for 3 days the disciples respond, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?” In other words, “We don’t have enough to give to others.”

But Jesus cuts through that lie and asks, “How many loaves do you have?”  Jesus then takes what the disciples have — seven loaves of bread and a few fish, gives thanks, divides it up and gives it to the people. We are told that everyone had enough and it took seven large baskets to collect the leftovers!

Amazing story, yet in the back of our minds we think that this just doesn’t make sense. You can’t feed 4,000 people with 7 loaves of bread and a few fish, can you? That is not the way the world works.  But maybe Jesus is showing us how it could work differently if we trusted in the practice of abundance rather than scarcity.

What would it be like to trust that we do have enough?

That is how our leftover potluck experiment was born.  We decided to bring what we already had in our refrigerators and pantries to share for dinner together.  We brought our left-overs.

It was delightful anticipating who would come and what they would bring! We ended up with chili, cornbread, baked chicken, chicken marsala, a salad, a half full bottle of wine and a yogurt cake for dessert! It was a full meal that we hadn’t even planned ahead!  The best part was that no one stressed over bringing things. We trusted in the concept of enough.

We had a rich conversation around the table and when it was time to leave we even had leftovers to take home!  Granted we didn’t feed 4,000 with our leftovers, but we did experience the gift of abundance.

This experiment has captivated my imagination.  Jesus continues to ask me “What do you have?”  I am realizing that this is an invitation to discover that I am enough and that I have more than enough of everything that truly matters.


Published by

Beth Estock

Beth coaches weird churches all over the United States. She grew up in the Midwest, began her pastoral work in the Bible Belt, and then moved to the Pacific Northwest two decades ago. She is an ordained United Methodist pastor, a contemplative, cultural architect and futurist. She is co-author of the book, "Weird Church: Welcome to the 21st Century." She convenes a network of missional faith communities in the Wesleyan tradition in Portland, Oregon.

3 thoughts on “Leftovers”

  1. Yes, the ways of the Kingdom. Jesus reminds us that the Kingdom is at hand, within and al around us. We need only awake to this truth. The leftover potluck helped all of us gathered to awake to that truth. Since we are created in the image of God we are also called to join in co-creating that kingdom that longs to spring forth.

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