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|“Today’s Bread,” or “Faith vs. Reality”|
Apr. 8th, 2007 at 5:21 pm
Today was my first day on the job with a new young men’s presidency. And, as luck would have it, there was no bread for sacrament. I rushed to the store to buy bread, breaking the sabbath and the law. On the bright side, today’s sacrament bread was fresher and tastier than usual. But it’s pretty obvious what’s going on when a YM leader walks into the chapel holding bread a few minutes into the meeting. After church, a friend jokingly asked, “Where’s your faith? Jesus fed thousands.” This struck me as a very funny thing to say. And perhaps there would have been something funny about not buying the bread, not telling anyone, and just waiting to see what happened when the deacons began walking around with empty bread trays — though I doubt our bishop would have been amused. Or maybe I don’t have enough faith in my heart to envision (or, worse, to perform) a miracle.
There are plenty of technical reasons why this doesn’t exactly parallel the miracle of the loaves. We needn’t recite these here, because they’re altogether beside the point. Miracles occur in all kinds of contexts. Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves; he didn’t just pass out the bread and wait for something wonderful to happen. We’re told that if we had faith the size of a mustard seed, we could move mountains. How much faith can it possibly require to create bread for the sacrament?
There is, I think, an interesting sense in which this question, “Where’s your faith?” can be construed seriously with respect to today’s missing bread. And it strikes at a boundary that I’ve never really been able to define. One way of looking at the boundary is to ask why the most striking miracles that we hear about were either performed in the distant past or by a friend of a friend. Yet another way to look at the boundary is to ask about the difference between a report of a miracle and a report of a UFO abduction. Perhaps the most faithful way to enquire about this boundary is to ask what exactly is the difference between faith and foolishness?