The music this week is from the Music Group. The Communications Team, AV Team, Music Group and Piggery Brae have all contributed greatly to the production of these videos. We hope you enjoy. Auto-generated Closed Captions are available.
Hello, I’m Peter Nimmo, the minster of the Parish of Cambuslang. Welcome to this Sunday’s church service. It’s great to have you join us, whether you’re watching on the internet, or if you’re listening on CamGlen Radio.
Today’s service was recorded in Cambuslang Parish Church. We are working hard to be able to re-open the church safely, and we will let you know when we can do so. However, as we will be limited in the numbers allowed in the building, we expect to be offering worship online and on the radio for the foreseeable future.
Today you’ll also hear music from our Worship Band. Hilary McDougall will read Scripture for us.
Everything was recorded with the appropriate social distancing.
And now, let us seek the spirit of God dwelling within us.
Let us worship God.
Today in our worship, we will be thinking about the Gospel story of Jesus feeding a great crowd with just a few loaves and fish. It’s a story which reminds us of God’s great generosity, and which challenges us to be generous, too.
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, your heart went out to the crowd
when you saw their need.
We bring to you this morning our hunger,
our longing for healing,
our yearning to understand the Scriptures
and to hear you speak to us.
Meet us in this place.
Embrace us, receive our praise
and the best of all we can offer.
Strengthen us individually and together,
that we might reflect your compassion
reaching out to those places and those people
who are hurting, and sad, and lonely.
We pray in your name.
God of abundance,
forgive us when we send others away
to buy what we could give;
forgive us when we are afraid
to share our resources
because they feel too meagre,
or we are worried
that there won’t be enough left for us.
Forgive us, and bless us with your compassion
and your generosity.
O God, your grace is enough.
Fill us with the bread of life
that we might share with others
your generous gifts to us.
13 When Jesus heard the news about John, he left there in a boat and went to a lonely place by himself. The people heard about it, and so they left their towns and followed him by land. 14 Jesus got out of the boat, and when he saw the large crowd, his heart was filled with pity for them, and he healed their sick.
15 That evening his disciples came to him and said, “It is already very late, and this is a lonely place. Send the people away and let them go to the villages to buy food for themselves.”
16 “They don’t have to leave,” answered Jesus. “You yourselves give them something to eat!”
17 “All we have here are five loaves and two fish,” they replied.
18 “Then bring them here to me,” Jesus said. 19 He ordered the people to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, and gave thanks to God. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 Everyone ate and had enough. Then the disciples took up twelve baskets full of what was left over. 21 The number of men who ate was about five thousand, not counting the women and children.Matthew 14:13-21
It’s the end of a long day, when Jesus has been busy healing and teaching on the shores of Lake Galilee. And he’s just heard terrible news: John the Baptist, the prophet who had prepared the way for Jesus- he has been murdered on the orders of King Herod. At this time of shock and bereavement, Jesus naturally wants some time to himself. So, he retreats, alone, by boat, to a lonely spot.
But the crowds will not leave him alone. They ‘left their towns, and followed him by land’, writes Matthew, the Gospel author. And so, even amid his own grief, Jesus is moved: ‘his heart was filled with pity for them, and he healed those who were ill’. Such compassion and love in the heart of our Saviour!
But as evening draws near, his disciples points out the very practical issues: they are a long way from the nearest town, it’s getting on to evening, and the vast crowds which have followed Jesus to this remote place have nothing to eat. The disciples have a very practical solution: ‘Send the people away and let them go to the villages to buy food for themselves’. That is a practical, pragmatic solution- get the people who have caused the problem to fix it themselves.
However, for Jesus, compassion is more important than pragmatism. He doesn’t want to send the people away. He wants his followers to be a good deal more hospitable than the very practical-thinking disciples are willing to be. So he gives an impractical instruction: ‘They don’t have to leave… You’ll yourselves give them something to eat’.
It is terribly very noble of Jesus to want to feed everyone there. But it isn’t very practical- they are miles from anywhere, and, as the disciples soon point out: ‘All we have here are five loaves and two fish’. These disciples are realists- the kind of people who will point out the problems, the limits, whenever we feel like being noble and visionary.
We need practical people in the church. They are the ones who remind us of the problems which we might run into if we don’t anchor our vision in reality. But in this Gospel story the practical, pragmatic people do not get the last word.
Jesus simply takes what is there, gives thanks, and breaks the bread, sharing with his disciples, who share it with the crowds. And somehow everyone gets fed. We often call it the feeding of the 5,000, but Matthew says that it was 5,000 men ‘not counting the women and children’- so it’s probably something over 10,000 people.
At the end, we hear there were 12 baskets of leftovers, which sounds like an exaggeration- hyperbole, as the scholars call it. Matthew is telling us a story, not about how generous humans can be, or trying to encourage us to be generous. This is primarily a story about how generous God is. Matthew is assuring us that, when crisis comes, God always gives us enough.
Jesus saw a hungry crowd. But the real hunger, which had led them to follow him to this remote place, was a hunger for God. They hungered to hear the words of forgiveness and hope which Jesus taught. They hungered after the healing he promised. The people came to meet Jesus- and Jesus, in his words and actions, wants to bring them to meet God. The disciples had said, ‘Send them home’. But for Jesus, sending the people away was not an option. It might have been the practical thing to do- but he is not going to send people away when they have come to find out about God.
So, Jesus says to his disciples, ‘Don’t send them away, because they need to be here. And don’t ask them to dip into their own, scarce resources- they hardly have any money to pay for food in the villages. Instead, my disciples what do you have available? Not very much? Never mind- with God’s help, it will be enough’.
This story tells us that that when people come to meet Jesus, Christians are to practice hospitality. We are to welcome people, not turn them away. We are to share what we have, so that they- and we- might experience the abundance of God. And that when we do so, we are to have faith that even when we don’t think we’ve got much to bring, God will make much, much more of it.
We are to take risks, and to rely on God. It’s important to be practical, but we are not to allow the problems to overwhelm us. We’re to expect miracles, even when there doesn’t seem much material for miracles. We are to hear Jesus calling us to take risks in welcoming people. We are to hear Jesus telling us not to not be discouraged, but to hope for miracles. We are to hear Jesus telling us to welcome, not to turn away, those who come to him, and to allow God to feed them.
During my first week here in Cambuslang, I met Father Paul Morton at St Brides, the Catholic Church here. He took me into the hall, which was filled with food, for it is acting at the moment as a depot for a couple of local foodbanks.
The Foodbank movement in Britain has only been going for a decade or so, and Christians were instrumental in getting them going because, following the example of Jesus, they saw the need, and they were filled with pity. Foodbanks bring together both Christians and others in our community to meet a real need. It’s a need which is just as pressing as were the needs of that vast crowd on Lake Galilee. It is not that there is any shortage of food in Britain in 2020, but rather that too many people can’t afford it- an appalling situation before the crisis, now being made much worse because of Coronavirus.
The church activities which we would normally use our church buildings for are mostly still suspended just now. But when I stood in St Bride’s church hall, surrounded by all that food, it seemed to me that here was the church responding, generously and with compassion, to a very real need- a church very much doing the work of the Gospel. A church witnessing to the reality of a generous God, a Saviour with a heart full of pity, and responding to a very real need.
Sometimes we think we have little or nothing to give. Sometimes we are tempted to turn people away. Sometimes we feel scarcity will prevent us from being hospitable. At those times, we should remember the compassion of Jesus, and his words to his disciples: ‘You yourselves give them something to eat’. And when we think we don’t have much to give, remember what Jesus can do with just a few loaves and fish.
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus Christ,
we praise you for your pity for those in need
of food for their bodies and soul
and for all who suffer.
We thank you for the many ways
in which you demonstrated
the wonderful generosity of your Father God.
O Christ, who showed compassion and who took time to pray,
we bring our prayers for our world
and for our communities today.
We pray for those who wander aimlessly
with no one to guide them through life.
May they discover community to support and love them.
We pray for those who are hungry,
for whom ‘give us this day our daily bread’
is a heartfelt plea,
as they do not know how to put food on the table for their children.
We pray for those who are hungry for meaning,
whose hunger can only be satisfied by the Gospel.
May they discover a community
that will feed them in body and soul.
We pray for those who are homeless,
for refugees and asylum seekers,
for those caught up in war and violence:
may they discover refuge in communities of hope.
Christ, who enabled your disciples to grow
in ways they could never have imagined.
May we who are your disciples today
grow in faith
and share the abundance
of all the gifts with which you enrich us.
Help us to we be prepared to take risks for the sake of the kingdom.
We pray for the church across the world
as it seeks to feed hungry bodies and souls.
Give us the courage welcome the curious,
to be generous to the hungry,
and to have faith that you will do miracles with small things.
May we also be prepared to provide safety and solace for those whose need is for calm amidst the storms of life;
and bring your peace to those whose lives are buffeted
by storms which bring fear, illness, or grief.
We pray for all who are ill or injured
at home or in hospital,
and for all who mourn the loss of a loved one.
you helped your son Jesus feed over 5,000 hungry people
who had gathered to hear of your love.
Help us provide for the needs of all
who hunger for your word.
We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ,
our Saviour and Lord, in whose words we now pray, saying:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever.
Amen.The Lords Prayer
Thank you for joining us for worship today. Thanks to Hilary McDougall for the Bible reading, to the Cambuslang Worship Band for the music, and Fraser Hamilton for filming and editing.
Remember you can get in touch with me any time- for prayer, to have a chat, to ask questions about what you have heard today. My phone number is on the Cambuslang Parish Church website, or contact me via social media.
And now, a blessing:
Go in peace.
The blessing of God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be with you all. Amen.