Home Worship 2nd August

Call to Worship

Only the hungry search for bread.
Only the thirsty look for water.
This is a place for those who are hungry and thirsty in spirit.
Only those who ache for meaning will pursue it.
Only those who yearn for a deeper life will seek it.

This is a place for those who ache and yearn for something more.
So let us come here today with our hunger and thirst,
our unsatisfied longings, our heart-felt yearnings,
and let the God of life satisfy our souls.

Hi, Central Methodist Church

Ann Siddall


Hymn 443

   1      Come, let us sing of a wonderful love,
tender and true;
out of the heart of the Father above,
streaming to me and to you:
wonderful love
dwells in the heart of the Father above.

2      Jesus, the Saviour, this gospel to tell,
joyfully came;
came with the helpless and hopeless to dwell,
sharing their sorrow and shame;
seeking the lost,
saving, redeeming at measureless cost.

3      Jesus is seeking the wanderers yet;
why do they roam?
Love only waits to forgive and forget;
home, weary wanderer, home!
Wonderful love
dwells in the heart of the Father above.

4      Come to my heart, O thou wonderful love,
come and abide,
lifting my life, till it rises above
envy and falsehood and pride;
seeking to be
lowly and humble, a learner of thee.

Robert Walmsley (1831–1905)


Prayer

Lord of compassion, we direct our attention to you knowing that you are always attentive towards us. Thank you for your love which sustains us and your grace that restores us.

Forgive us for the ways we have fallen short in our love and grow in us a desire to be more like you.  Let your words of grace ring out to us, that when we ask, our sins are forgiven.

Jesus among us, we thank you for your presence and the work of your Spirit within us.

That you promise to be with us and grant that we are never alone.

Thank you for drawing us to you through your love and illuminating our hearts and minds with your truth.

Father over all, the whole of creation witnesses to your great works and rejoices in who you are. You are worthy of our adoration and we join our voices to bring you our praise.

To you belongs all glory and splendour and we magnify your holy name.  Amen.[1]


The Lord’s Prayer


Reading: Isaiah 55:1-3

Invitation to the Thirsty

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.

Reading: Mathew 14:13-21

Feeding the Five Thousand

13 Now when Jesus heard this (The death of John the Baptist), 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. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15 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.” 16 Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 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. 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.


Reflections on the readings:

Today we hear from Andy Fishburne, a minister in the Isle of Man, and he offers his reflections about this very familiar gospel passage and how we might read it in our times.

The story of the feeding of the five thousand in Matthew 14.13-21 is very well known. Rather than explore the question of whether it was a miracle or not, let’s think about this story in relation to two distinct current concerns:

1) Coronavirus social distancing, and
2) Food waste.

Social distancing

We’ve all probably had a recent experience of avoiding crowds. Maybe you avoided crowds anyway, but most people have been alone far more often than before during the experience of lockdown and global pandemic. Maybe hearing the story of a crowd of five thousand (actually, that was just the number of men – let’s push past that rather sexist crowd measurement technique and assume that the real size was around twenty thousand people: all genders and ages, equally important) makes you shiver, especially as they were passing food around.

My heightened awareness of hygiene and virus spreading since March has caused me to read this story in a new light. I can imagine a photograph of the scene in an angry news headline or Facebook post.

Of course, the situation was different then. They were very different here in February this year, yet alone in Jesus’ time. But it made me wonder – what would be different if that act of Jesus’ ministry had to comply with social distancing in an outbreak of Coronavirus?

Would Jesus have ignored the need to keep social distancing and held the gathering anyway?

How are you feeling about gatherings and churches services?

May we follow his way.

The scale of the event is astonishing: remember, around 15,000 women and children were there (and the 5,000 men as well). The people, the masses, had a hunger to connect with Jesus and be restored, as well as a physical hunger. And Jesus fulfilled both needs.

If he couldn’t minister to them all in one gathering, how would he have managed? I think that the only way would have been to enlist helpers, to create a team, to spread the load. That would require a large group of people to act in his power and authority and do what Jesus would have done: restoring brokenness and feeding the hungry.

Maybe they could start a chain; one act of grace empowering the recipient to go and be a channel of grace to someone else.

May we follow his way.

Food waste

This passage in Matthew is unusual in that it gives us quite a lot of numerical facts. These numbers tell us a couple of things.

Firstly, the food was multiplied in an astonishing way. One loaf became a thousand loaves. It wasn’t a measly, rationed affair – it was wild and abundant. Everyone had ample. Incidentally, as someone who is allergic to gluten, I wonder if there was a gluten-free provision? Maybe is wasn’t an issue then, but if it were to happen today it strikes me as unholy to leave some people out…Everyone ate and was satisfied that day.

May we follow his way.

Secondly, there was very little waste. It seems that the amount of food provided was spot-on. Plenty, but not vastly excessive. This tells us something about the divine; given that hunger and poverty was rife in that society, to generate a waste of surplus food would have been an insult to those who went without that day.

May we follow his way
[2]

So today picture yourself as the small child.  How will you respond? 
Do you dismiss that what you have is so insignificant that it can’t be of any use at all?
Or do you say “Here I am – May I follow your way?”

Reflect on your current situation, your church, the building that you worshipped in, the needs of those around you.
Bring to mind all that you are feeling and thinking about those situations.

Now ask God how you can help?

What is your part to play?
[3]

Prayer of Intercession

Loving God,
You are our Creator and Sustainer.
When You open Your hand,
You satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

And so we look to You whenever we are in need, trusting in Your love and Your abundant goodness.

As You once fed the hungry crowds with five loaves and two small fish, we ask that You again fill those who are empty, this day.
Pour out Your Spirit on all who hunger and thirst.
We think especially of the people in Somalia and Eastern Africa who are facing critical food shortages; who are suffering the effects of malnutrition and starvation;  and watching helplessly as loved ones die.

Lord, in Your mercy, open Your hand.
Pour out Your Spirit, so that they may be filled. 

We pray for those who are empty emotionally—
who are lonely and long for companionship and love,
who are caught in the grip of depression,
 overwhelmed with grief.

Lord, in Your mercy, open Your hand.
Pour out Your Spirit, so that they may be filled. 

We pray for those who are spiritually empty—
who are troubled, but don’t know where to turn;
who long for purpose and meaning, but don’t know where to look;
 who need You, but do not yet know You.

Lord, in Your mercy, open Your hand.
Pour out Your Spirit, so that they may be filled. 

God, we praise You for Your abundant gifts in our lives.
Pour out Your Spirit on us as well.
Fill us with Your compassion and love, so that we would willingly share some of our abundance with those who have need.

Lord, in Your mercy, open Your hand.
Pour out Your Spirit, so that we may be filled.

We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who came so that all of humanity might come to know the abundant life that comes from You.
Amen.

Hymn 255  

1      The kingdom of God
        is justice and joy,
        for Jesus restores
        what sin would destroy;
        God’s power and glory
        in Jesus we know,
        and here and hereafter
        the kingdom shall grow.

   2      The kingdom of God
        is mercy and grace,
        the prisoners are freed,
        the sinners find place,
        the outcast are welcomed
        God’s banquet to share,
        and hope is awakened
        in place of despair.

   3      The kingdom of God
        is challenge and choice,
        believe the good news,
        repent and rejoice!
        His love for us sinners
        brought Christ to his cross,
        our crisis of judgement
        for gain or for loss.

   4      God’s kingdom is come,
        the gift and the goal,
        in Jesus begun,
        in heaven made whole;
        the heirs of the kingdom
        shall answer his call,
        and all things cry glory
        to God all in all!

Bryn Rees (1911–1983)


Blessing

Guide us, great Jehovah, as we seek to respond to your love to us. Help us be a shining example of love in a world crying out in need. May we be Christ’s hands and
feet, by the power of your Spirit.
Amen.
[4]


[1] Opening prayers written by Claire Welch
[2] Reflection written by Andy Fishburne
[3] Additional thoughts by Wayne Grewcock
[4] Blessing written by Tim Baker
The Vine at Home is compiled and produced by twelvebaskets