Sunday Eucharist prayers, readings and reflections are available below.
TRINITY VIII SUNDAY 2nd AUGUST
Almighty Lord and everlasting God, we beseech you to direct, sanctify and govern both our hearts and bodies in the ways of your laws and the works of your commandments; that through your mighty protection, both here and ever, we may be preserved in body and soul; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Romans 9:1-5, Matthew 14:13-21
We give thanks for the blessings, spiritual and material, that God gives us.
And we pray
- for those who struggle to provide food for themselves and their families.
- for the sick and those who care for them and especially for: Paul Evans, Marlies Kisch, Nikki Lewis and Gerald Lewis.
- for those who have died especially Charlie Chesser, Bill Scott and Freddie Jackson. We give thanks that they rejoice with the great multitude of the faithful departed.
"All ate and were filled." Matthew 14:20
Beside my bed there is a pile of books: a Bible,yes, but no Shakespeare, and always something by the great cook and food writer Elizabeth David. At the moment it is her "French Provincial Cooking". Her piece on Provence, says her biographer Lisa Chaney, comes close to a creed, the nearest she gets to monotheism. Here is part of it:
"Provence...to which I am always returning, next week, next year, any day,now, as soon as I can get a train... now and again the vision of golden tiles on a southern roof, or some warm, stony, herb-scented hillside will rise out of my kitchen pots with the smell of a piece of orange peel scenting a beef stew.
But to regard the food of Provence as just a release from routine, a fierce, wild riot of flavour and colour, is to oversimplify it and grossly to mistake its nature. For it is not primitive food; it is civilized without being over-civilized. That is to say, it has natural taste, smell, texture, and much character. Often it looks beautiful too. What it amounts to is that it is the rational, right and proper food for human beings to eat."
Food, glorious food.
In the scriptures food has rich associations. The forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden symbolized wisdom and temptation, the manna in the desert God's provision for his people. The Passover meal was an annual and vivid commemoration of rescue from slavery. The Maccabees' refusal to eat pig signified their faithfulness to the law even to death.
In the Gospels Jesus is frequently shown eating. There is a relaxing meal with his friends Martha and Mary, with the overlooked Zacchaeus, with tax-collectors and sinners for whom the Son of Man came to save.
In the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes food is a sign of blessing and abundance. There was no need or expectation that the crowd should be fed. They were in a lonely place, even so the disciples suggested that people be sent off to the shops to buy their own food. Jesus had wanted to get away and reflect upon the death of John the Baptist yet he took pity on the crowd, healed their sick and fed them. From meagre resources he fed a huge crowd and there was plenty left over, twelve baskets, symbolizing abundance for the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
Jesus brought reassurance, enlightenment and healing and to the hungry food. His ministry was not just about the spirit or the soul but about the whole person. The Christian Gospel is not just an idea but a complete renewal of life.
In this miracle Jesus brings together much of the symbolism associated with food in the Scriptures. As in the desert before food here represents God's provision for his people, deliverance and a concern for the marginalized. Here Jesus takes bread, blesses it, breaks it and it is shared. Matthew clearly wanted his readers to think of the Eucharist, of the sacrifice of Christ, of his presence in the Eucharist, the new Passover.
Food represents an opportunity in Christ's gospel. In the Garden of Eden it suggests the desirability of true wisdom and the need to resist temptation. When we are anxious about the future the manna in the desert should remind us of God's generosity and care. Passover reminds us of God's power to save. The stubborn Maccahabees are an example of steadfastness in the face of adversity. Jesus eating with Martha and Mary shows us the value of friendship, with Zacchaeus and the tax-collectors and sinners that everyone is worthy of respect and inclusion.
The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes reminds us of the mission of Jesus to proclaim the Kingdom, to heal, to nourish, to bless. The Last Supper and our Eucharist this morning brings all that together. When anxious, hungry, in any kind of need, we should remember how the Lord provides and how, in turn, we should provide for others. .