Talk given at St Michael-in-the-Hamlet Church, 2 August 2020
13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.Matthew 14: 13-21
The Old Normal
These are worrying times
Do you ever worry that you won’t have enough? I do.
I worry about whether – post-Covid – there will be enough opportunities and jobs for my two young sons and other young people growing up? Enough money coming in to keep our two churches going. And most importantly perhaps, enough food for the world’s poor, or even for the poor of this city, especially over this summer when the schools are shut and children are unable to receive free school meals.
We live in a society where ‘enough is never enough’. One good thing about the lockdown period is that we were forced to stop. You know that expression, ‘stop the world, I want to get off’? That’s what happened in early March. The world stopped, and for a few months we got off.
The ‘old normal’. Its not coming back in a hurry. And that’s a good thing. Because the ‘never enough’ way of living isn’t normal. Which is maybe why modern life makes us so stressed.
Let us for a moment imagine how it would have been to be present when Jesus fed the five thousand.
Jesus is followed by huge crowds wherever He goes. Following after Him because He’s offering them hope. Jesus is the Hope Giver. Still today Jesus offers hope to the hopeless, and as His followers we carry that very same hope in our hearts.
The crowds follow Jesus out to a remote place. They have travelled from afar. Too far to return unfed. And now, after Jesus has taught them, they are hungry and restless.
Jesus’s disciples panic. Its so easy to panic in a crisis, isn’t it? People are hungry and there’s no food. We’ll have to send them away to get some. Its not our responsibility, surely?
Quietly. Calmly. Jesus says to His disciples, “You give them something to eat”.
But we only have these two fish and five loaves. That’s going to go nowhere. Its nowhere near enough.
Jesus says, “Bring them here to me.” He blesses and breaks into pieces this simple meal and gives it to the disciples to distribute among the seated crowd.
They all ate and were filled. Twelve baskets of scraps were gathered.
Sharing our bread
With Jesus there is always enough. Even in the deserted places. We pray in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’. Jesus asks us to pray this prayer because He plans to fulfil it in our lives. In my experience God always provides for our needs. Not always our wants, but always our needs.
Our daily bread….
Not me, but us.
The key lesson for us here concerns our willingness to share with others, and not to withhold.
God takes from the little that we have and multiplies it, if (and only if ) we are prepared to share it with others. Share, not only with those inside our own and church families, but with those beyond our doors. Strangers. Neighbours. Friends. Family.
So, here at StM’s we will continue to be as generous to those who are struggling and suffering amongst us, and also to those in the wider community. No matter how hard it gets for us financially. Generosity is our first priority. If we do this, God will provide.
A faith action based on this week’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel on the feeding of the five thousand.
Give something away or share something with someone else. It doesn’t need to be a big or expensive gift, just generous.