St Michael’s Church, Church Lane, Aughton, Ormskirk L39 6SB Tel 01695 424457 (Parish Office, Mon to Fri, 9am - 12 noon)
30 July 2017 - Trinity 7
Gospel Reading: Matthew 14.13-21
Theme: A taste of the kingdom
Bible notes on the reading:
What Jesus heard caused him to withdraw to the desert: news of the death of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod Antipas and Herodias. The passage that follows describes a nature miracle – the feeding of the crowd – preceded by a very brief reference to a number of healings. Yet the emphasis is not on miracles as such, about which many people today have doubts and questions, but on a large group of people – 5,000 of them – who are so drawn to Jesus that they follow him round the lakeside, defying heat and hunger, staying until they have little chance of returning home before dark (a dangerous time). Such trust!
When the disciples draw Jesus’ attention to the crowd’s need for food – of which he must surely have been aware – he says, ‘they need not go away, you give them something’ (v.16). If you have enough faith, you can even move a mountain, or feed 5,000 people. In the event Jesus feeds them himself, though there is no detail given about how he might have done it. But the point is that Jesus meets the basic needs of this trusting crowd of simple people. It is a theme that we also find in today’s psalm:
‘The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.’ (Psalm 145.15)
However the feeding was accomplished, here is an image of a little (five small loaves and two fish) going a very long way – and with leftovers. It reminds us of last week’s morsel of yeast working its way through enough flour to feed a village as an image of the growth of God’s kingdom. Or of a few good seed multiplying one-hundredfold. Although the feeding is technically a miracle story, it is the stuff of the kingdom.
So, the image of everyone being fed on rich food, in the context of our readings, becomes an image of eating with the Messiah (Christ) in God’s kingdom – the so-called Messianic Banquet. This means that, in the light of Isaiah 55 and Psalm 145, Jesus’ feeding of that crowd of Galileans can be taken as an anticipation of eating that same meal together with each other, with all nations, with God and his Messiah. Even though no wine was drunk by the sea (though it is in Isaiah 55.1), the feeding of the crowd is an anticipation of the Christian Eucharist, that is in turn an anticipation of eating in God’s kingdom.
Live your faith - ideas for our faith into action in our daily living.
For children: Encourage the children to make a real effort to thank those who provide food for them this week – at home, at school, in shops.
For young people: When you eat with your family this week, begin with a grace or a moment of silence, to thank God for the food and to remember those who are hungry.
For adults: Challenge people to do a small thing for someone in need this week (if appropriate, including any agreed actions or commitments made during the worship).
Find out more about one of the bible passages
we have heard this week.
Prayers around today’s themes
A way into prayer
Imagine yourself to be at the event described in the Gospel story. Are you a disciple concerned for the welfare of the crowd, hungry on a hot day, with nothing to eat? Are you with the little boy who offered up his lunch? Are you part of the crowd – perhaps with some food, but reluctant to share for fear you will go without? Are you one of the crowd who is grateful and amazed to be fed, and fed so well that there was food to spare? What would you say to Jesus if you had been there?
A children’s prayer
Forgive us, Lord, for not sharing.
We have so much,
and others have so little.
Help us to be generous.
A prayer for all ages
For those who share what they have with others,
for those who teach us what they know,
for those who are generous with what they have,
for those who care for us when we need help,
for those who bring us to faith in you,
Lord, we give you thanks.
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Reflection questions on this week's picture: