Isaiah 55.1-5, Matthew 14.13-21
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I wonder, what was Jesus doing at the feeding of the five thousand? I mean, beyond simply providing a basic packed lunch for those who had come to hear him speak.
What deeper meaning was Jesus trying to show the people?
Was this the miraculous fulfilment of those wonderful words of Isaiah – “Those of you who do not have money, come, buy and eat!” And “You will enjoy the food that satisfies your soul”?
That sounds marvellous doesn’t it? Think of the most glorious picnic. What food and drink would you include? Would you choose old favourites like something from Enid Blyton – all scones and ham sandwiches, scotch eggs, and lashings of ginger beer? Or would it be like one of the feasts from Harry Potter – tables groaning under the weight of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, treacle tart, trifle, and butter-beer?
All of this pales into comparison with the messianic banquet that Isaiah prophesies.
Or, if we go back to the shores of Galilee, in the simple sharing of bread and fish do we see a foretelling of Holy Communion, the main act of worship of the Church?
Time and time again, we will come back to bread.
And this leads us nicely to that fact that today we are celebrating Lammas Day. ‘Lammas’ is a very old word; Lam, meaning loaf, and mas for the service, and and it’s a thanksgiving for the first-fruits of the wheat harvest. It is, literally, a Loaf-mass.
At our Harvest Festival in October we say thank you to God for all the good gifts of the seasons, and we focus on sharing those gifts with those in need. So we bring tins and packets to give to the Food Bank.
But, Lammas has its focus almost entirely on God. This is a celebration where we thank God for the start of the harvest, and we acknowledge how much we need God.
Imagine the people sitting and listening to Jesus teach. They had come to him because they needed to hear him speak, and because they needed healing. And once he had finished they had nothing of their own – they need nourishment in body as well as in the soul and in the mind.
Think of the Lord’s Prayer: ‘Give us this day our daily bread…’ (we are saying, ‘we need, we depend on God’).
And in the Eucharistic Prayer: ‘We break this bread to share in the body of Christ. Though we are many, we are one body, because we all share in one bread.’
And we come to church because we need God.
I invite you today, before you have lunch, to take a moment and think about your life and say thank you to God, for God’s generosity on which we thrive, remembering all the gifts God has given you.
It is out of that bounty we become God’s workers in the harvest, showing the fruits of righteousness in our lives. We get to share those gifts with others, just as the disciples saw Jesus do on the shores of Galilee two thousand years ago.
And having given thanks, joyfully follow the Lord, knowing that when our days are done, we will join Christ for all eternity at the heavenly banquet.