‘Arrange the people into groups’: reflections from the feeding of the five thousand

I’ve been thinking, as many of us have, about what it is to worship in our homes. At a stroke we have moved away from worship in our customary gatherings in church buildings, in schools (in the case of ‘Monday Mornings at the School’ for under 5s and carers) and in village halls (in the case of Oasis Teas for seniors). Ironically, we thought those were, for the most part, small. And now, across the Lordsbridge area, we are clustered in even smaller groups.

When Jesus performed the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, he was surrounded by hungry people. His disciples didn’t know how to feed them. So Jesus asked his disciples to arrange the people into groups, splitting their larger numbers into something much smaller. (This detail is in Mark’s and Luke’s accounts of the story – you can read Luke’s version here ). Then Jesus looked for something to work with. The boy’s five loaves and two fishes seemed so far from adequate as to be nonsensical. Yet, Jesus took them, blessed them, and they were distributed far and wide so that everyone had more than enough to eat.

It was the phrase ‘arrange the people into groups’ that struck me first as I was musing on what the church, and I as a priest, could offer the people I serve. We have already been ‘arranged into groups’. Our old face-to-face groups have gone, but we have all been arranged into households. And some of us have arranged ourselves into church Facebook or Zoom groups and the like, or perhaps we are in a group of people who receive a regular church email.

This is the basic structure that Jesus uses to distribute what the people need. And this is what we can use to distribute and receive that which, by the grace of God, can nurture and feed us during this time.

Like the disciples, those of us who are priests and ministers have looked at the (virtual) crowd and asked, ‘How can we feed these people?’. Here may be the answer. Arrange the people into groups. And do not be afraid of the small and simple offering distributed this way. Trust that Jesus Christ will bless it.

If you on the other hand are more like the people, hungry and not sure where to look for those things which feed your Christian faith. Then I pray you will not remain hungry for long, that you will see the potential in these different, perhaps smaller, groups and look for the food blessed and distributed to you in Jesus name.

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‘Fortunately, unfortunately’: a simple reflection and activities for families for Mothering Sunday, 22 March 2020

Laura writes: The children’s book “Fortunately, Unfortunately” is one of our family favourites. It tells the story of a series of alternating events. Fortunately, the man is invited to a party, unfortunately, it is too far away, fortunately, a friend lends him an aeroplane, unfortunately, the motor explodes, fortunately, he has a parachute, unfortunately, it has a hole in it….you get the idea! The man doesn’t give up though, even when he has a pack of tigers chasing him he still keeps going until he eventually arrives at the party and discovers that the party is, in fact, all for him….well worth the effort of keeping going despite every unfortunate turn of events. Continue reading

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The Heart of the Matter: a reflection on Mark 12: 28-34 for Sunday 22 March 2020

In these strangest of circumstances, we can no longer be church in the way to which many of us are most accustomed. I wonder if we have been taking for granted the ability to meet every Sunday, or perhaps when we find the time. I wonder if we have become lazy or complacent. I wonder whether we need, now more than ever, to listen to a call back to the heart of things. Last Friday the gospel reading was this one.  It seemed appropriate, if a little unorthodox, to use it today.

Open this link to read Mark 12: 28-34. Continue reading

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Church news, 22 March, for Hardwick & Dry Drayton

Dear friends,

Clearly many things have changed over the last week, not least that we are now unable to gather in our congregations in the usual ways.  But this most emphatically does not mean that we cease praying, or learning, or seeking God, or serving others in his Name.  And it does not mean that we cease from social contact – only that it cannot be physical contact for now.  One of the things that works to our advantage is that we were already a dispersed Christian community, a network of congregations or church communities across this area.  Now we are dispersed further, a network of households arranged in different kinds of clusters, but still collectively the Christian community across the west of Cambridge villages.   We are still the Body of Christ even when we cannot meet together. Continue reading

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Coronavirus and being the church in Dry Drayton

Written for members of the church Facebook group, 18th March 2020

After Monday’s updated government advice, many of us are still working out what it means in practical terms. Some of us will be feeling quite anxious, some calm. Some will be considering how to shield themselves, some will be concerned about jobs or businesses at risk. Some of us are already working on the frontline in health or social care, some are holding the fort in schools and businesses and some are preparing to provide support in our local community. Thank you to everyone for the parts that you will play.

Yesterday you will also be picking up the news that public worship has been suspended for the time being. The ministry team and I are still working through the implications for Dry Drayton church. At the moment we are looking at 3 things:

  1. What resources and encouragements can we make available to help us to pray, feel connected and maintain the practices of faith in our homes?
  2. How can we keep the church open for prayer, whether that is a member of the ministry team praying on behalf of us all, or so that individuals can visit it for some quiet and reflection?
  3. How can we best love and care for each other, and for those in the wider community who are anxious or in need?

As a start, the church will be kept open as usual during the week. There will be paper for anyone to leave any prayer requests. (Please bring your own pen and just touch the paper that you will use.) You are welcome to email Sue with prayer requests if you’d rather, via sue.e.wyatt@btinternet.com.  David and Sue will go to the church at some time on Sunday and say Morning Prayer and will include those prayers. Sue writes: ‘Though there will only be two of us in the church building we will know that we are praying with all of you.’

The Archbishops write: “At such a time as this, when so many are fearful and there is great uncertainty, we are reminded of our dependence on our loving Heavenly Father and the future that he holds.” They jointly published in various newspapers today an article which you can find here: https://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/news/latest-news/coronavirus-archbishops-call-national-day-prayer-and-action And they have called for a national day of prayer this Sunday – Mothering Sunday.

We will keep in touch via the church email list and the Dry Drayton Church Facebook Group. Please do join one, or both, of these if you have not already done so. (Email alisonmyers@lordsbridge.org to ask to join the email list). And please do set up informal networks to support and pass things on to each other via appropriate means.

It is important to recognise that we are still the body of Christ even when we cannot meet together. We are still a praying community even when we pray in our own homes. We are still open to all on the pilgrimage of life even when the path takes an unexpected turn. We can still serve our village and be witnesses to God’s kingdom even in these unprecedented circumstances.

 

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Coronavirus and being the church in Hardwick

Originally written for members of the church Facebook group, 18th March 2020

After Monday’s updated government advice, many of us are still working out what it means in practical terms. Some of us will be feeling quite anxious, some calm. Some will be considering how to shield themselves, some will be concerned about jobs or businesses at risk. Some of us are already working on the frontline in health or social care, some are holding the fort in schools and businesses and some are preparing to provide support in our local community. Thank you to everyone for the parts that you will play. Continue reading

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A peek inside the new cabin at St Mary’s Hardwick

The cabin at St Mary’s in Hardwick is under construction.  These pictures were taken on 12 March 2020 after the topping out ceremony.  The cabin, the church and their environs are amongst trees.  So we have expressed our vision for this area at the ancient heart of the village of Hardwick through the stories of what happens in and under three Biblical trees: Jesus’ mustard seed tree is a place of welcome and hospitality; the trees of the book of Revelation whose leaves are for healing and the tree of Mamre, beneath which Abraham had an encounter with God.

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Here’s a view of the outside.  It will be clad in black boards with a tiled roof, like a barn. Continue reading

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