Letter from the clergy - Friday 31 July 2020

First published on: 31st July 2020

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we hear about the feeding of the 5000 in our reading from the Gospel of Matthew. This is a significant miracle, described in all four Gospels, when Jesus took what they already had, a meagre five loaves and two fish, and transformed it into an abundant supply of food, with lots of leftovers. And of course, more than 5000 were fed, because the convention was in those days only to count men, but women and children would have been present too!

In my sermon I’ll be reflecting on how Jesus took the bread, looked up to heaven acknowledging God the provider, gave thanks for it, broke it, and gave it to the people. The stages in what happened in this miracle are reminiscent of the sequence of the events in the Communion service, when we recall how at the last supper Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, foretelling what would happen to him on the cross, when his body was broken for us. 

You will probably recall too Jesus saying in John 6.35 ‘I am the bread of life’, bread of life meaning staple food, something that we need to sustain us and give us spiritual life, and ‘I am’ being the very name of God, that Jesus as the Son of God was entitled to use.

One of the interesting things about the Gospel accounts of the feeding of the 5000 is that we hear very little about the crowd’s response. Were they grateful, did they realise who he was, the Son of God, did being on the receiving end of this remarkable miracle make them change their ways? We don’t know, but I’d like to suggest that for us, we respond by:

  1. Looking up, away from the practicalities of where the next meal is coming from, and look to God, who cares for us with great compassion and provides all that we need.
  2. Consider what Jesus has done for us, the one who was broken and given for us, that we read the Gospels, take seriously what he says about himself in the Bible, and take to heart the conclusion that St Paul came to in our first reading: Jesus is God (Romans 9.5).
  3. That we respond with gratitude, count our blessings. It’s not been easy over the last five months, and many of us have a huge sense of loss. We may have lost people close to us, and we have all lost a lifestyle and the freedom to socialise that will not be returned to us for a very long time. But despite this, there is something healthy about having an ‘attitude of gratitude’, of looking up to God our creator, praising him, and looking out to see his hand at work in the world all around us, and giving thanks.

Whether you are able to watch our online services, or have been enjoying the excellent services produced by the BBC, I hope that you have been able to continue your worship of God in whatever way you are able to from your homes. We are putting plans in place to have Sunday services in church from 23rd August onwards, with appropriate safety measures, though we will also continue online Sunday services and Wednesday dial-in services for the time being.

Church is open for individual prayer on Sundays 9.30-11am, and on Wednesdays at the new time of 2-3pm. We have now been advised that all who come into church should wear face coverings, so please do so, whether you are coming for prayer, or for a service later in August.

A message from the Archbishop of Canterbury this week.

Wherever you are - in light or darkness, joy or pain - God is with you.
May you know the comfort of his presence, today and always.

With grace and peace,
Sue McWhinney         
sue@stjohnsfarsley.org.uk         
07484 181699


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