Making Christ's Love known to All

Morning Prayer for Trinity 8

2 August 2020

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A reading from Isaiah chapter 55, verses 1-5.

Ho, everyone who thirsts,
   come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
   come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
   without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
   and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
   and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
   listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
   my steadfast, sure love for David.
See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
   a leader and commander for the peoples.
See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
   and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
   for He has glorified you.

This is the word of the Lord.
All        Thanks be to God.

 

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A reading from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 14, verses 13-21.

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.  When He went ashore, He saw a great crowd; and He had compassion for them and cured their sick.  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.’  Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’  They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’  And He said, ‘Bring them here to me.’  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.   And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.  And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

This is the word of the Lord.
All         Thanks be to God.

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May the words of my mouth and the thoughts and meditations of all our hearts be always acceptable in Your sight, O God our strength and our Redeemer.  Amen.

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

We pray those words at least weekly and many of us pray them daily.  They may not mean as much to us as they once did to our ancestors – after all, we live in a time of abundance.  We live in a time where having leftovers at the end of a meal seems normal.  We live in a time when, for most of us, hunger is not an issue.

But for 5,000 men (and presumably their womenfolk and children – so maybe 20,000 people in all), on that day by Lake Galilee, hunger was becoming a big issue.  They had followed Jesus to that deserted place and received His healing, but now they needed something else.  They needed bread.

Much hot air and ink has been expended over the last 2 or 3 centuries to try to explain away this miracle. Perhaps that small offering of bread and fish prompted others to offer up their small food parcels too?  Perhaps that food wasn’t physical food at all, but the sustenance of Jesus’ teachings?  Well, maybe – but these explanations rather miss the point.  Which is that Jesus had compassion on these hungry people and He made sure they got a square meal.  Not a luxurious one, for sure – in Galilee, by the shores of a huge lake, barley bread and fish were the food of the poor.  And not exactly an abundant one – yes, there were leftovers, but 12 baskets leftover from feeding 20,000 people is more like the scrapings from the plate!

What those folk received in that deserted place was enough; in fact, it was plenty enough.  But it was no more than that.

What’s perhaps more interesting is how Jesus fed them?  One of His followers did exactly what an attentive student of our Lord should do.  He was thinking of others – here they all were at the end of a long day and they needed feeding.  So what was more natural than that they should be encouraged to go home and eat?  It was the compassionate thing to do.  But, as usual, Jesus goes a step further … “YOU give them something to eat.”

And what happens next is a lesson for every one of us who follows Jesus and seeks to be like Him.  A meagre basketful of basic foodstuffs becomes, miraculously, the answer to prayers.  You might not think that can happen today, but it does …

Last week, I met up online for a chat with the folk who run our local foodbank.  You might wonder sometimes what happens to the tin of beans or packet of rice that you faithfully bring to the collection point each week – whether somehow that can be multiplied as the bread and fish were.  Well, before the lockdown started, things were ticking along nicely at the Foodbank.  At any one time, they were holding about 3 to 4 tonnes of basic, long-life foodstuffs and that meant they could be generous.  Then COVID-19 struck, people lost their jobs or were furloughed on 80% of what may have been a meagre income already.  And local people and supermarkets performed a miracle!  The Foodbank currently holds 13 ½ tonnes of supplies – so much that they have had to move beyond their 2 storage units and into a volunteers garage as well!  God took our individual offerings and He multiplied them – but He did it through people like you and me.

One of my most used prayers is that God will take my hands to do His work, my feet to walk His way, my mind to think His thoughts and my heart to love His people.  Miracles still happen every day – they happen when ordinary disciples of Jesus go to God in prayer with the needs of others on their hearts.  And God turns the question back to us – “YOU do something about it”.  Our story today shows us that with God nothing is impossible – because He can take even the little we have and make it something much greater than we could ever have imagined.  But first we need to take that step of faith towards Him and offer our time, our talents, our goods in His service.

Amen.

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Of your charity, please pray for the sick and distressed, among them:

John
Alex
Tony
Carol
Sue
Katie and Jack
Rosemary and David

Of your charity, please pray for those who have died and those who mourn them:

Kitty Filmer (funeral 2 July)
Ruth Anderson (funeral 4 July)
Maria Borg-Wheeler (funeral 27 July)
Sally Gent (funeral 3 August)
Michael Knott (funeral 12 August)

And for all who were to be baptised or married this spring and summer

Please pray for our schools as the children and young people begin their summer holidays:

William Barnes Primary School
Sturminster Newton High School
Yewstock School and College 

Please pray for our local Foodbank and for the work of the COVID Action Group in feeding the hungry, befriending the lonely and reaching out to those in distress.

Please pray for our outreach into the community and for all our future plans – that they may evolve and grow, led by the Holy Spirit into new paths.