Meals 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.
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 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)
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.
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
Website: Echo The Story
The new resource “Echo The Story” is a formation focussed series designed to help young people enter the stories of the bible in a way that encourages creativity, imagination, storytelling and discussion. It’s another creative, (almost contemplative) process from the people behind WeAreSparkhouse and Michael Novelli, author of the books “Shaped By The Story” and well worth exploring if you’re looking for a different kind of bible study or small group material.
The resource comes with a dvd, leaders guide and participant sketch book;
The sketchbook is an important part of the resource, moving the program from a traditional question/answer curriculum to a more creative and reflective process. If cost is a huge issue I guess one could take a group through the process without the sketch books, but that would require a lot of preparation where the sketchbook has everything on hand. I think it’s a helpful part of the kit, and worth purchasing for the participants, it provides a take home resource that could assist participants to reflect on the stories week after week..
The Leader’s guide breaks down the process for the resource, instructing the leader not only on how to run each session but also some of the theory behind the resource, setting the scene as to how the process works and why it’s been put together in the way that it has. The guide shows pages of the sketch book to instruct the leader of how to approach the sketch book and it’s use, it also includes the scripted stories that form the “Imagine the story” part of each session. Each session’s guide reminds the leader of the resource’s process, the week’s story and what the participants will be seeing in the sketchbook.
The final part of the kit is the dvd. The dvd has a quick promo piece for the program, a brief and useful breakdown of the program for the presenter and the individual videos for each of the sessions. The short video stories are well produced and simple, but, unlike the Holy Moly or Re:Form resources by WeAreSparkhouse they don’t work separate from the actual resource as they have been included in order to refresh/rewind the previous week’s stories and probably make sense only in that setting.
If you’d like to go into the theory of the process a little deeper then the book “Shaped By The Story” by Michael Novelli explores some theory, practice and imagination that has been used in developing the Echo The Story process. Michael explores storytelling, developing stories and how the bible stories connect with people. The book also breaks down what ends up being the skeleton of the Echo the Story resource, you can see how he’s moved from the book to the resource.
The Scope & Sequence
The first volume of Echo The Story is a 12 part series entering into the story of the bible:
Download: Scope & Sequence Volume 1 (pdf)
- The Promise
- Judges & Kings
- God’s Kingdom
- The Church
The second volume of Echo the Story stretches out the story into 36 sessions allowing a longer process, delving into the narrative of scripture in a deeper way.
Download: Scope & Sequence Volume 2 (pdf)
There are 7 steps in each Echo The Story session.
- Rewind the Story – Animated video that reviews the previous stories and places us at the present story.
- Prepare the Story – Reflection activity to focus people’s minds and prepare them for listening. This activity usually consists of drawing the week’s story symbol. The story symbol is an important part of Michael’s process allowing for participants to connect each symbol with a story, an important mnemonic device that connects people’s imaginations with the story and turns them towards the story.
- Imagine the Story – Listen to a scripted telling of a bible story that allows people space to slow down and listen to a carefully scripted narrative, paraphrased from the scripture.
- Capture What You Notice – Record the things that stood out for you in the story (reminds me of Lectio Divina), providing a quieter imaginative reflection on the story shared.
- Remix the Story – Retell the story in your own creative way, write, sketch, paint, rap, song. The sketch book provides specific activities that spark creativity, interact with scripture, allow dor people’s different learning styles and enables the group and individuals to re-enter and imagine the story. Leaders are invited to re-tell the story with a different voice during this time.
- Connect to Your Story – Share personal insights with the group. The sketch book provides prompts participants to share their own thoughts and observations with each other allowing for a creative reflection with the story as the tether connecting the curiosity and wonder.
Overall I think this is a creative resource allowing groups, to use creativity, imagination and wonder as they delve into the narrative of the bible, making connections with their own lives and story. I’ve recently given the resource to a friend who teaches Christian Education at a Christian school as a means to re-design their scripture class and provide a different way to explore story with their students. I think the process allows for a creative guided workshop that could reshape how some groups reflect on scripture together, at the very least it’s a great starting point that could move ministries towards a more reflective and story-focussed process for their community, well worth the purchase and giving it a go in your ministry with young people.
If you have the chance to use this resource in your own ministry I’d love to hear how you went with it, what you felt were positive and negative aspects of the process and how the young people in your community reacted to the change of process.
Echo The Story – Deepen Your Youth Ministry
Echo The Story – Session 3 Story Videohttp://youtu.be/rUnpQA-WDMI
Title: How To Catch a Star
Title: The Way Back Home
Title: Nog and the Land of Noses
Title: Noah Dreary
Themes: why am I here, fullness of life, life well lived, purpose, loved ones, vocation, joy, wonder, life, family, existentialism
Peter has created some beautiful tales in the past, his new story is an existentialist tale of a young boy who, one day, just falls onto a page.
I love this illustrated story, for me it asks once of the deepest questions an artist can have. Not “who am I”, not “why am I here?” But instead what is this story, this art about, what story am I telling and, now that I’ve created this character, this art, this person what do I do with it?
I can see an illustrator sitting there, sketching a character onto a piece of parchment and, after days of playing with him, having him laugh, meet friends, roll down a hill, maybe even drawn him at various ages sitting there pondering “why did I create you?”
After spending so much time with the character one would have am affinity with him and want his story to be an important one, special, worthy of their new found friend.
So, why did the boy fall on the page?
I should stop being so esoteric
Peter has created a beautiful existential tale that speaks to us all, a tale of a boy who falls on a page, has adventures, falls in love, grows old and all the while asking what his purpose is.
Beautifully told, creatively illustrated and with some delightful insights (“see the world through somebody’s eyes” “made someone lunch” and “played an accordion”) the story will have readers young and old wondering about what makes a life worthwhile and what a life well lived looks like.
*Just wanted to say that I wrote the above before bumping into the video of the song by Peter Carnavas and his story behind the boy… maybe I wasn’t being so esoteric afterall…
Title: The Brothers Quibble