Act of Worship prepared by Tess Maddin for Sunday 2nd August 2020 at 10.30am

 

Call to Worship

We come into your presence hungry for fellowship and being connected to one another.

Show us your love and fulfil our need.

We come into your presence hungry to learn more of you through your word.

Show us your love and fulfil our need.

We come into your presence hungry for your gift of spiritual refreshment.

Show us your love and fulfil our need.

So loving God in this time of worship, give us refreshment and sustenance. Amen

 

Hymn 153 Break thou the Bread of life, O Lord to me

https://youtu.be/Kc5sR_pS9nE

1. Break thou the bread of life, O Lord to me,
as thou didst break the loaves beside the sea,
Beyond the sacred page I seek thee, Lord;
My spirit longs for thee, O Living Word!

2. Thou art the Bread of Life, O Lord, to me,
thy holy word the truth that saveth me;
give me to eat and live with thee above;
teach me to love thy truth, for thou art love.

3. O send thy Spirit, Lord, now unto me,
that he may touch my eyes, and make me see;
show me the truth concealed within thy word,
and in thy book revealed I see the Lord.

Mary Artemisia Lathbury(1841-1813) Alexander Groves (1842-1909)

Public Domain CCLI Licence No. 9141

 

Prayers of Praise (Based on Psalm 145)

We glory in your Majesty, God and praise your name now and for all time.

We praise you as a generous and compassionate God showing rich and all-embracing love rather than anger. Your compassion reaches out to all your creation nurturing and cherishing. Your care and support reach across your whole creation and all peoples. Your love never ceases across the generations.

We praise you that your care is especially given to those who are weakest and need to be lifted up and be given new hope. We are amazed and ever grateful for your consistent provision of all our needs and that your hand is never empty.

We praise you that your love is consistent and never gives up on us. That you are always willing to listen when we really need you. We praise you that even if we lose sight of you, you are still there waiting to lift us up and restore us.

We can never find enough words to praise you and we rejoice that the diversity and splendour of your creation expresses your glory far better than we can ever do. Amen

 

Prayer of Confession

Sometimes, Lord, I know I don’t listen properly to you.
I’m easily distracted.
Or I listen, but still go my own way, putting myself first.
Forgiven by you, I can start anew.

Sometimes, Lord, I don’t trust you to meet my needs,
to take care of me, to feed me with food both physical and spiritual.
Forgiven by you, I can start anew.

Sometimes, Lord, I’m anything but prepared for my journey with you.
Forgiven by you, I can start anew.

Sometimes, Lord, I look for my own ways out of a situation,
instead of seeking and trusting you.
Forgiven by you, I can start anew. Amen.

 

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd 2002-2020. Reproduced with permission. www.rootsontheweb.com

 

The Lord’s Prayer

 

Readings

 

Isaiah 55 1-5

55 “Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labour on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
    a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
    and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has endowed you with splendour.”

 

Matthew 14 13-21

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” 16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. 18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Reflection

Once again, I am alerted to how our current experience colours the way we interpret our reading of the Bible. As I read the passage from Matthews Gospel I immediately thought “What about social distancing?”. 5000 people crowded on a hillside all desperate to get close to Jesus are likely to be in very close proximity. My mind then moved to how lucky they were to be able to do this and how our current situation has robbed us of the ability to meet in crowds or even small family or friend groups or even to worship in church. However, we have all no doubt at sometime experienced being in a large crowd, perhaps at an outdoor concert or sporting event and we can relate to what those people gathered around Jesus were feeling, both good and bad.

There is often an excitement about being part of a crowd uniting in appreciation of that which has brought them together. But there can also be a degree of uneasiness or even fear about being swept along out of control, losing touch with companions. There can be anticipation but also frustration if vision is obscured or sound barely audible.

There is also the discomfort of the physical proximity of many other people especially if it is hot and humid. As time goes on lack of food and drink will begin to add to the discomfort and frustration - nerves and tempers can become frayed. This may well have been the experience of those in the crowd on that day

Jesus recognised the need of the people in the crowd and we are told he had compassion. Even though they had followed him when he was seeking some quiet time to mourn the death of John the Baptist, he still put their needs before his own. So, he spent time showing his care and concern as he answered their requests for healing.

The disciples drew Jesus’ attention to the fact that the people would at some time need to eat and suggested he sent them away to find their own food. However, Jesus saw this as an opportunity not only to provide food in a miraculous way but also to teach some truth of himself to both the disciples and those in the crowd.

In Matthew’s Gospel we are not told where the disciples got the loaves and fishes from, but we all warm to John’s version of the event where they are provided by a boy who is willing to share what he has. This idea of sharing has prompted some to interpret that the miracle was achieved by others following the boy’s example and sharing what they too had. It could also be that although they had food they were unable to comply with the tradition of ritual washing before eating, and so felt they could not eat. Jesus’ actions gave them permission as he gave thanks for the bread, broke it and shared it out.

The provision and the sharing of food is so often used in the Bible as an indication of God’s care and providence. The manna and quail were provided as the Israelites travelled through the barren wilderness and the short passage we heard read from Isaiah is recalling the time when God’s exiled people were returning home and the metaphor of God providing food and drink for the journey serves to illustrate God’s constancy in his care and provision for his people. It is no wonder that even today many of the Jewish festivals are celebrated over meals and in our own churches hospitality and provision of food is an important way of expressing God’s love through our service.

This miracle is the only one along with the resurrection which is recorded in all the Gospels which serves to emphasise how Jesus affiliates himself to the way in which God has made provision in the past. As bread is broken and supports life and growth for the body, so Jesus himself would be broken to provide everlasting life and growth for the soul. Jesus makes this link absolutely clear as he claims in John’s gospel “‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Just to return to the role of the disciples in this story. Jesus gave them the huge responsibility of moving among the crowd, either distributing food or persuading them to share what they had depending on which interpretation you choose. Jesus had the power to perform the miracle, but he used his disciples to take it to the people.

It occurred to me that this links in with the parables of the kingdom that Joyce spoke of last week. The mustard seed, the yeast, the treasure, and the pearl in themselves are of no value or use until you do something with them. It is only by using or by claiming their worth that they fulfil their potential. To do that needs faith, belief, and action. There is potential for bringing God’s kingdom into people’s lives but we are required to be involved in the process. In the same way as the disciples were involved in feeding the crowd we are invited to take our place in sharing Jesus as the living bread to feed one another and those who are starved of the sustenance he brings to the soul.

That is our calling to take our part in revealing the love that God has for all and that he has shown his love in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

 

Prayers of Intercession

God who feeds your hungry people,
we bring you our prayers for our church and our world.

We pray for those who experience physical hunger:
for farmers surviving on meagre crops and low prices,
for mothers struggling to feed their children,
for families getting by on cheap food and cut-price bargains.
God, who feeds your people,
help us to work for a fairer sharing of the world’s resources.

We pray for those for whom food means difficulty rather than enjoyment:
for those who cannot eat because of illness,
for those who experience eating disorders or a loathing of their bodies,
for those who eat to mask loneliness or unhappiness.
God who feeds your people,
help us to delight in the simplicity of food.

We pray for those whose hunger is not physical;
for those longing for companionship and friendship,
for those searching for meaning and purpose,
for those reaching out for an end to grief and pain.
God who feeds your people,
help us to welcome others with the good news of your gospel.

We pray for ourselves, who seek to live in your way;
when we are weary and dispirited,
when our resources seem stretched to breaking-point,
when we hunger and thirst for a sense of your presence:
God, who feeds your people,
renew us with courage, trust and vision for the future.
Amen.

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd 2002-2020. Reproduced with permission. www.rootsontheweb.com

 

Hymn 611 Brother Sister let me serve you

 

1. Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace
to let you be my servant too.

2. We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

3. I will hold the Christ-light for you
in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

4. I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh, I'll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow
till we've seen this journey through.

5. When we sing to God in heaven
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we've known together
of Christ's love and agony.

6. Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
Pray that I may have the grace
to let you be my servant too.

Richard.A.M. Gillard (b,1953)


© Words: 1977 Universal Music - Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)

Music: 1977 Universal Music - Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)

CCLI Licence No. 9141

 

Sending Out

We have been restored by the warmth and generosity of God the Father’s love

We have been fed and built up by the words and encouragement of God the Son

We have been refreshed and energised by the power and stimulation of God the Spirit.

May the blessings of God, Father, Son and Spirit travel with us into this week so that we may all reach out and be carriers of that love which is promised to all. Amen

 

 

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