Activity 2: Story – Loaves and Fishes
Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of the story, “Loaves and Fishes”
- Leader Resource 1, Loaves and Fishes Skit
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
- Optional: Simple props
- Optional: Leader Resource 2, Loaves and Fishes – The Real Miracle
Preparation for Activity
- Read the story, “Loaves and Fishes,” and prepare to tell it to the group.
- Decide how you will choose volunteers to play parts in the skit. Copy the script (Leader Resource 1) for everyone who will need it.
- Optional: Gather props for volunteers performing the skit, such as loaves of bread (leave them wrapped so someone can bring them home after the session), two fish made of plastic or paper, swaths of fabric for biblical-era cloaks and blankets for “the thousands” to sit on.
- Optional: Read Leader Resource 2, Loaves and Fishes – The Real Miracle. This excerpt from Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads by Gil Bailie (New York: Crossroad, 1995) uses historical background and an analysis of Jesus’s ministry to illuminate the miracle central to this biblical story. Prepare to share the Leader Resource or some of its content with the group.
Description of Activity
Participants hear, and then role play, the Christian scripture story about Jesus transforming five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food for a gathering of thousands. They share their reflections on the nature of Jesus’s miracle.
Gather the group. Introduce the story with words such as these, inspired by a sermon delivered by the Rev. Colin Bossen to the Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland in March, 2008:
The story we are going to hear comes from Christian scripture. Some people think this story means Jesus created a miracle, or that God worked magic through Jesus. Others think this story means Jesus performed another kind of miracle. After the story, I will ask you what you think the miracle was.
Read or tell the story.
Pause for a moment. Then, if you have not pre-assigned the skit roles, ask for volunteers to perform the story. Distribute scripts (Leader Resource 1) and props to those who will perform.
After the skit, invite the actors and audience to tell what happened in the story, in their own words. Then ask:
- What was miraculous?
Affirm/explain, in these words or your own:
Perhaps Jesus somehow miraculously transformed five loaves of bread and two fish into a much larger meal. Or, perhaps, through his teachings about love, he miraculously inspired his disciples and the gathered thousands to share.
Here is what one UU minister, Rev. Colin Bossen, has said: “When Jesus brought out the loaves and fishes that he and his companions had with them, blessed the food and offered to share, even though it was not enough, he convinced everyone else present to share with the group what they each had. Some people had small pieces of fruit in their pockets and Jesus's generosity moved them to share their fruit. Others had a loaf of bread tucked away in their bag and when everyone else started to share they too pitched in. In this way the whole community created a great miracle and, because they shared, everyone had not only enough but more than they needed. There was even food left over.”