Feeding of the 5000
Yesterday I had a whats app from a university friend who I hadn’t heard from in some time. Kieran and I had rowed together. I was reminded as we caught up of how one Easter holiday, both being foreign students, were staying in our student accommodation through the holiday. We would come together and cook together each night. It was a natural thing to do because when we rowed together, we would also eat together as a crew – it had been an important part of building our sense of team. In rowing you needed to intrinsically trust one another so that you can move as one, and if you do the crew can become greater than the sum of the individuals in the boat
Eating together is important for us all, for our families, it is over a meal where we have the time to listen to each other and it is over food that we find a common need to nourish ourselves. It is also over food that communities are built. Over food that we recognise how we all have the same needs, even if we are each different in our tastes and experiences. A meal is one of the best ways to build new friendships and for teams working together to grow. The limitations on eating together will be one of the great challenges as people attempt to move into some kind of ‘normal’ life under the limitations of Covid-19 restrictions.
Our Gospel starts with Jesus trying to go and be alone. But when he’s followed and finds he isn’t alone after all, rather than getting angry, Jesus has compassion for them. He spends time getting to know the people and healing. The disciples get impatient – send them away – this isn’t our problem – they aren’t our responsibility. But instead Jesus challenges them to feed the crowd. And when they think they’ve given conclusive evidence for why they can’t – we only have 5 loaves and 2 fish. But Jesus says ok, lets start with that… He blesses it and breaks it. Remember that by the time this Gospel is physically written down, the church is already remembering the last supper, if it sounds like the writer is echoing the movement of blessing and breaking bread at the Eucharist – it is because he is saying this is related. The people are all fed with an overflowing of compassion so that there are 12 baskets gathered up of the left-overs.
We are called to have compassion for those in need, in need of physical nourishment with food; in need of spiritual nourishment with Jesus body; and that in the sharing of that nourishment we are brought together as a part of the family of God, adopted into the body of Christ, and so recognise that the compassion we have isn’t for those who we consider to be inferior, but because we recognise ourselves and Christ in the face of the one who is in need and we are all nourished in the giving, in the receiving, in the mutual sharing.
And in sharing that nourishment and this nourishment here at this table, we are bound into the body of Christ. In doing so we are formed so that we can intrinsically trust that in Christ we can do infinitely more than we could ask or imagine. As God works through us we are able to take the risk to show the kind of compassion which overflows from the throne of Christ. And in so doing we too are nourished by the grace of God.
The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams
8.00am Morning Prayer in the lady chapel
10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School
Christian Meditation Wednesdays at 9.10am
Said Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00am
Monday through Thursday at 5.30pm
Please note that Public worship has been suspended, you can therefore participate in these services via Facebook live stream
A colleague had to spend the day rowing a boat up river to be part of a shoot for Pink Floyd’s Echoes – the Best of Pink Floyd album cover.
There are certain moments in one’s life where one feels close to God – like Christ has come near – moments of beauty or of peace or of joy.
I found this box on a shelf. It’s a bit old, you can tell it’s been around for a while, it’s been bumped here and scratched there. It’s not easy to open. But it’s also clearly precious, with golden inlay. And it smells nice.
Where it made sense we needed to emulate others who we saw were good at what they did, and who did things we wanted to do.