Year A / Proper 13 / Ordinary 18 / Pentecost +8

A helping hand with piece of breadMeals that Change Us

I’m curating an all-age service for August 03, the bible reading is Matthew 14:13-21 – one of the stories where Jesus feeds a crowd. As it turns out I think I’ll use this for a couple of all age services this month and see how it goes.

Matthew 14:13-21
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.

I’ve always loved these stories, stories that involve Jesus and food, they bring out the best in people’s imaginations, these stories seem to inspire people to believe in miracles.

For me, the story from Matthew 14 invites me to ask the question “What exactly is a miracle?”

I wonder how the entire crowd of people found themselves without food for the day, it’s certainly odd that an community of people who would have known the local McDonalds would be closed wouldn’t have prepared themselves for the day’s meals to feed themselves, or their children. What doesn’t surprise me is the idea that people would have brought enough for themselves and may be hesitant to share what little they have ensuring that they could care for those in their family.

I wonder what the crowd was thinking as Jesus and his disciples offered up all they had on them, what little it was, the five loaves and two fish.

I wonder if this is where a miracle happened, a real miracle, one that had the crowd searching in their bags for what they had set aside to look after themselves and offering their own supplies to the mix.

Did Jesus’ act inspire people to open up themselves to each other?

In a world today where people are concerned about looking after number one this story invites me to wonder if a miracle looks like Jesus turning 5 loaves and two fish into a meal that more than feeds the entire crowd… Or if a miracle looks like a crowd of people who were invited to participate in one of the meals of the century, (one for the record books you might say) and found out that if they all participated, all shared what they had there would be more than enough for them and enough left over to fill 12 more baskets of food.

Is this what the kingdom of God really looks like?

Everyone participating
Everyone giving what they can
Everyone looking after their neighbour
Everyone feeding everyone
Everyone being fed

In a world where those who have rarely share with “the other”…
In a world where we’re all told to look after ourselves first…
In a world that longs for inspiration…

comes this story where Jesus’s actions inspire the community to pull off a beautiful act of communion, participating in the miracle that ensured that everyone was fed.  This story reminds us that the act of sharing, even just 5 loaves and 2 fish can be enough to spark a revolution of sharing.

As such I think this meal is more than a miracle, it’s the Kingdom of God amongst us, it’s the stories that Jesus has been sharing over the last few weeks come to life…

The Kingdom of God is like  a crowd of people who had nothing but each other, one day they decided to share what little they had and found that they were more than fed, more than cared for, more than nourished and that they had enough to give to others around them.

As such the service I’ll be curating will revolve around three stories.

a) Matthew 14:13-21
b) “Empty Fridge” by Gaetan Doremus
c) “Stone Soup” by Marcia Brown

*Another story that could be used in this setting is “Let’s Eat” by Ana Zamorano and Julie Vivas

As the people arrive I’ll set up the centre of the space with kitchen props, loaves of fresh bread, cans of tuna (no sharp knives).

The first community we’ll be doing this in will be meeting for a shared meal afterwards so I might add some of the delicious smelling food to the table as well.

I’ll also include a single large soup pot and a small mound of stones surrounding it.

Menu (Order of Service)

Welcome -

Song -

Story - “Empty Fridge” by Gaetan Doremus

Group Discussion – What is the most memorable meal you’ve ever had? What made it memorable?

Response to the Story – I’ll create small cardboard cutouts of the ingredients used by the people in the story to bake their quiche, I’ll invite the group to reflect on the conversation about their memorable meals and to write a prayer of thanks onto one of the cards and add it to the pot in the centre of the room as an act of prayer.

Story – “Stone Soup” by Marcia Brown

Group Discussion – What does real hospitality look like?

Response to the story – I’ll invite the group to take a stone each and to think about a time where they didn’t offer hospitality to another or were refused hospitality and how that made them feel. I’ll invite the group to add a stone to the pot as a promise to find more ways to be hospitable and open their space to another.

Song -

Story: Matthew 14:13-21

Reflection – What does a miracle look like?

Response to the story – I’ll break the bread in the centre of the space and invite people to share it amongst the community, to imagine what it might have been like to participate as a part of the crowd during this large meal and what they might have had to offer to the feast if they were given the chance.

Benediction – Rather than a benediction we’ll share Grace and invite the community to bring out their

Possible Grace from “Blessed Be Our Table” edited by Neil Paynter

Heavenly Father, we thank you for once more providing our daily bread.

Have compassion on those who live in poverty and hunger

and help us to be more willing sharers and bearers of each other’s burdens.

~ Stella Durand