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.