Sermon on the Feeding of the 5000 at Rev Mike’s first Eucharist

Sermon on the Feeding of the 5000 at Rev Mike’s first Eucharist

Listen to or read the sermon the Rector preached today at Rev Mike’s first Eucharist:

Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty person? Paul says that I’m an ‘ooh, I’ve got a glass!’ person! Today’s miracle we heard, the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 is all about perspective. That is, it is all about the way we look at the world and the way Jesus transforms our perspective.

A huge crowd has gathered around Jesus, imagine being in a stadium full of people, it’s that many. Jesus says to Philip, ‘where are we going to buy food to feed them all?’ Philip, quite understandably, from his human perspective, does the maths and works out it would cost half a year’s wages to buy enough for each person to have one bite. Imagine how many burgers you’d have to buy from the burger van to feed everyone! It would cost a fortune! Andrew, Peter’s brother, ever the optimist, brings forward a boy who has 5 loaves and 2 fish, but even Andrew feels a bit of a fool in doing so and says, but how on earth is this enough? And Jesus simply, in a manner of speaking says ‘I can work with that’.

Jesus takes whatever we can offer him and transforms it.

Our offerings to God will never feel adequate, but this story tells us that that doesn’t matter, what matters is that we offer what we have and Jesus says ‘I can work with that’, no matter how inadequate it feels.              

Whenever we face what can feel like an impossible situation, we must work with what we have rather than focus on what we don’t have and then entrust that to God.

Jesus takes whatever we can offer him and transforms it.

Mike has offered himself as a priest, I’m sure there are times he had some wobbles this week ‘is this really right?’, like Andrew saying ‘but how can this feed so many people?’ But Jesus said to Mike, ‘I can work with that’ and will take what Mike offers of himself and use it for his glory’s sake. And he does the same for each one of us.

Did you notice in the account in John’s gospel, when Jesus tells them to gather the leftovers that he says ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ So that nothing may be lost. A Baptist minister I know used to often say ‘nothing is wasted in God’s economy’. When the pandemic started back in 2020, I suddenly found that the job I had done just before ordination working in social media and doing things online was suddenly needed again. All that experience of conducting church services online that I had in my previous job I could use in helping people connect with church in lockdown. Once I was ordained I thought I wouldn’t really use those skills again but as my friend said ‘nothing is wasted in God’s economy’. All your life experiences, including the really difficult things, can be used by God. I see this at our Safe Space mental health group. People who have experienced tremendously tough times but who have now recovered are able to get alongside those who are struggling now, because they’ve been there. God is using them and their experiences to help and bless others. God doesn’t want anything to be lost. The disciples carefully gather the leftovers, God has a purpose for those too.

As the disciples gather the leftovers there is a hint of the story of the Israelites gathering the manna in the desert. They gathered and saved manna so that they wouldn’t need to work on the sabbath.  There is something here, then, about the importance of sabbath rest. In the old book of common prayer service there was a wonderful reading of some sentences of scripture before communion called the ‘comfortable words’ – the word comfort here doesn’t mean comfy like a cushion but actually ‘strengthening’, words to strengthen and fortify you. It’s a part of the service I wish they’d kept in, can you remember the first bit of scripture to be read? COME unto me all that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. In some translations it says ‘and I will give you rest’.

Imagine the relief for the disciples when they discover that they don’t have to try and buy food for all the people as Jesus asked them! How often do we run around and get stressed about things we needn’t be stressed about. We are able as we come to Church on Sunday to break that cycle to receive that sabbath rest, to hear Jesus’ invitation to see the world in his way, not our way.

Of course, the feeding of the 5000 is a foreshadowing of the Last Supper, a sign of how Jesus feeds us all in the eucharist. Today as we gather, like the disciples we bring what little we have and Jesus transforms it. Together, the whole gathering of God’s people on a Sunday consecrates the elements, we all pray with the priest in the great prayer of thanksgiving, we bring all we have and all we are to Jesus, he blesses it and transforms our gift so that all are fed and satisfied. Jesus blesses what is offered and then the disciples distribute it to the people. Our prayer is that as you go from this place, you take with you what you have received to bless others. Rev’d Mike will lead us in this for the first time today, knowing that it is all of us and our offering together that is blessed. We all participate together in this sacred meal, allowing Jesus to change our perspective, help us to turn away from our inadequacy and focus on Jesus’ abundant generosity.

Let us pray: Loving God, thank you that you take our offerings and transform them. Transform us by the renewing of our minds that we might see the world with your eyes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services and to analyze traffic. Your IP address and user-agent are shared with Google along with performance and security metrics to ensure quality of service, generate usage statistics, and to detect and address abuse. You can find out more by reading our Cookie page and our Data Policy Notice.