Our scripture passage for this Sunday is the one and only passage that’s found in all four of the Gospels. The account of the feeding of the 5000 is central to our faith tradition as it highlights the “hunger” of the people, the depth of Jesus’ compassion, and the surprising capacity of the disciples when they thought they either weren’t enough or didn’t have enough. They started out with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish and, with language that echoes our Communion liturgy, Jesus offered a blessing and thousands were fed.
It is our United Methodist tradition to offer Holy Communion in worship once a month. Many of us may come from traditions that shared Communion more or less frequently. We call Communion by different names. Sometimes we refer to it as the Lord’s Supper. Sometimes we call it Eucharist, derived from the Greek word for Thanksgiving. But each time we come together…literally or virtually…with the body of Christ to receive the bread and juice, signs of God’s amazing grace, we give thanks, we remember the words and actions of Jesus long ago, we connect with siblings in Christ in the here and now and we look toward a future realm as we anticipate God’s “heavenly banquet.”
In receiving the elements of bread and juice, we are receiving God’s grace into the deepest places of need in our lives. Sometimes that grace looks like peace. Sometimes that grace looks like healing. Sometimes that grace looks like community. Sometimes that grace looks like getting through just one more day. Always that grace is love and strength for the journey. And strengthened for our journey, we turn outward to offer peace, healing, grace, endurance, love and strength to others.
I look forward to joining together with you for worship and Communion this Sunday. If you have a few moments before the service, create a small worship space. Find a piece of bread and a cup of something. Light a candle. Reflect on the needs of your heart, your spirit, your life as well as the needs of our world. Because this is a time when we might all need a little extra measure of grace, we’re offering Communion via a Zoom service each Wednesday evening during the month of August. Please join us for this 20-30 minute service on Wednesdays at 7:00. We will send the Zoom link via Flock Note on Monday, 8/3. If you would like us to send the Zoom link to you directly, please contact the Church Office.
Blessings for your week. I’m looking forward to being with you on Sunday!
Matthew 14:13-21 (CEB)
When Jesus heard about John, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. When the crowds learned this, they followed him on foot from the cities. When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion for them and healed those who were sick. That evening his disciples came and said to him, “This is an isolated place and it’s getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
But Jesus said to them, “There’s no need to send them away. You give them something to eat.”
They replied, “We have nothing here except five loaves of bread and two fish.”
He said, “Bring them here to me.” He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves of bread and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them and broke the loaves apart and gave them to his disciples. Then the disciples gave them to the crowds. Everyone ate until they were full, and they filled twelve baskets with the leftovers. About five thousand men plus women and children had eaten.
Questions to Consider:
- What are your earliest memories of receiving Communion?
- What is your experience of Communion like? What are the moments or elements that are most meaningful to you? Are there moments or elements that are more challenging?
- What are the deepest needs of your heart, spirit, life during this time?
- How does receiving God’s grace during Communion change you, the course of your day or the course of your week?
I understand Eucharist as “good gift.”
What are the deepest needs of your heart, spirit, life during this time? I long for the community I already have. It’s strange, to long for what one has. I long for “the beloved community” –a phrase recurring in the celebrations for John Lewis, who was chair of SNCC when I was preparing with SNCC to go to Mississippi for voter registration and freedom schools. My heart is full with the presence of God. I long for a restoration of our earth that is now increasingly and perhaps irretrievably imperiled.
Are there moments or elements that are more challenging? I hold Jesus as my master. I feel about Jesus that he is a container for the development of humanity and all beings, that he stands ahead of us as the incarnate of God’s plans for us and for our creation. I do not think Jesus is God. The times when the trinity is affirmed, and the times when Jesus is used interchangeably with God are the more challenging. I take the communion to be a coming into oneness with my master, and I am always tearful. When I grow up I want to be as divine-saturated as Jesus.