Sunday Worship – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

St Matthew’s Anglican Parish, Hastings
A Christian community in the heart of the City

2nd August 2020

The Preparation

Great is the Lord and worthy of all praise..
Amen!
Praise and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honour,
power and might, be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.

Hymn of praise: When The Morning Gilds The Skies

When morning gilds the skies, my heart awaking cries,
may Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer, one purpose I declare:
may Jesus Christ be praised!

New strength comes night or day when from the heart we say,
may Jesus Christ be praised!
Let sin and evil fear, when this sweet chant they hear:
may Jesus Christ be praised!

Discordant humankind, in this your concord find,
may Jesus Christ be praised!
Let all the earth around ring joyous with the sound:
may Jesus Christ be praised!

Be this, while life is mine, my canticle divine,
may Jesus Christ be praised!
Be this the eternal song, through all the ages long:
may Jesus Christ be praised!

Great and wonderful are your deeds O Lord God the almighty:
just and true are your ways O Sovereign of the nations.
Who shall not revere and praise your name O Lord?
for you alone are holy.
All nations shall come and worship in your presence:
for your just dealings have been revealed.
To the One who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb:
be blessing and honour, glory and might for ever and ever. Amen.


As God who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct.
Spirit of God, search our hearts.



In silence we remember our need for God’s forgiveness.

Silence

God of mercy,
we have sinned against you and against others.
We have sinned in what we have done,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for our sins,
forgive us all that is past
and raise us to newness of life. Amen.

Almighty God, who pardons all who truly repent,
forgive our sins, strengthen us by the Holy Spirit,
and keep us in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

Collect

Generous God,
your love is overflowing.
Enable us to trust in the abundance of your love;
help us to multiply the blessings you give,
for you are the one that fulfils all our needs.
Through Jesus Christ our Liberator,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

The Ministry of the Word

Psalm 145: 8-9,14-21

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion:
slow to anger and abounding in love.

You Lord are good to all of us:
and your mercy rests upon all your creatures.

The Lord upholds those who stumble:
and raises up those who are down.

The eyes of all look to you O Lord:
and you give them their food in due season.

You open wide your hand:
and give what they desire to all things living.

You Lord are righteous in all your ways:
and loving in all your deeds.

You Lord are near to all who call to you:
who call to you in singleness of heart.

You fulfil the desire of those who revere you:
you hear their cry and you save them.

You protect all who love you:
but the wicked you will destroy.

My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord:
let everyone bless God’s holy name for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now and shall be for ever. Amen.

A reading from Matthew 14:13-21

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!

The Sermon The Sensual Sacrament

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) Matthew 14:13-21

The Sensual Sacrament

The feeding of the multitude is the only miracle of Jesus that’s recorded in all four gospels. What’s more, it’s told six times: twice as the feeding of the 4,000 and four times as the feeding of the 5,000. So why did the early church regard this event as so significant?

Think about this verse from Matthew’s account. Jesus has ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Matthew then describes what Jesus did. There’s something rather familiar about it. ‘Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled…’ Compare those words to Matthew’s account of the Last Supper. ‘Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”’

Do you see the connections? ‘Taking the … loaves … blessed … broke … gave … ate.’ For sure, the story of the feeding of the multitude doesn’t mention the cup of wine, instead there’s fish. But in the catacombs of Rome, where early Christians left pictures and signs of their faith and practice, the Eucharist was often represented not by a picture of thirteen men in an upper room, but by a company reclining on the ground with baskets of bread and two fish clearly in evidence. For the early church the Eucharist was as much rooted in the story of the feeding of the multitude as it was in the Last Supper. Without a doubt the Gospel writers wanted us to see in this story an echo of how Christ comes to us in Eucharist and feeds us with the spiritual food of his body and blood.

Although it’s presented as a miracle, the feeding of the multitude is portrayed as a very practical event. There were hungry people present who needed feeding, and so Jesus feeds them. At Eucharist we come as hungry people – hungry for the love and care of God; hungry for God’s forgiveness and renewal; hungry for the knowledge that we aren’t alone in the world but that God is with us; hungry for the assurance of the gift of eternal life and that we’re united with all God’s people, on earth and in heaven; hungry for the strength to serve God faithfully in the world. We come to Eucharist because we need feeding. We come because we need the spiritual food to nourish us, to strengthen us, to enable us on life’s journey. Without the food we receive at Eucharist we suffer spiritual malnutrition. Jesus was emphatic in telling us that that we cannot live without this food. ‘I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.’

Into our hands Jesus places the gift of himself. We are handed the body and blood of Christ – the bread of life and the cup of blessing. This talk of feeding isn’t merely a metaphor. It’s a very real and tangible thing. We aren’t being asked to use our imaginations or conjure up a hypothetical concept. It’s God’s way to meet us in the common things of life, and to use these ordinary things as the means of conveying what is spiritual and divine. You can’t get anything more ordinary and common than food. Yet God chose such signs: bread and wine, food and drink, to nourish us week after week with grace and to strengthen our union with the living Christ and with one another.

Christianity isn’t based on an abstract idea, but on a living reality which we can know and experience with our senses. Christianity is a sensual religion and Eucharist is the sacrament of the senses. In Eucharist we meet the One described as the word of life. The first letter of John puts it like this. ‘We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.’

The Word of God, the word of life, who is Jesus Christ, is to be heard, to be seen, to be looked at and touched. At Eucharist we are participating in an event in which Jesus is present to all our senses. We see, we touch, we taste, we hear. We see as the priest, standing at the table as Jesus did, takes the bread and wine. We hear as thanks is given and bread is broken, and the unforgettable words are uttered again: “this is my body … this is my blood … do this to remember me.” We touch as the bread is placed in our hands, and we taste as we take the bread and wine to our mouth and consume it.

At Eucharist it’s not the intellect that plays the chief role but the senses. So, it’s within the range of every person, adult or child. That’s why Eucharist can have such an impact on even the person who is hardly conscious of their surroundings. One has only to be breathing to have the capacity to partake and to be fed with the heavenly food.

At this Eucharist take the time to use all your senses. Look at the elements as they are taken, as thanks is offered, as bread is broken. As they are placed in your hands, pause and see this gift of divine grace. Look at this heavenly food which has become the body and blood of Jesus. Then consume it … Chew the bread … swallow it … taste the wine… take the time to know what’s happening … time to sense this spiritual food becoming a part of you. Here is Jesus, God with us, satisfying our hunger, feeding us with love and care and promising that we’ll be raised with him at the last day. Then go back to your place and spend time in thanksgiving. You need not use words, but perhaps simply call to mind the bread and wine that you’ve seen, touched and tasted. Sit or kneel in the wonder of it.

At this Eucharist, as at every Eucharist, we are like those who sat on the lawn with Jesus. Like them we recognise our hunger. Then find ourselves fed by Jesus himself. Here we affirm that what we have heard, what we have seen, what we have, is the word of life – Jesus, God with us.

Alister Hendery. St Matthew’s, Hastings – 2.8.2020

Prayers

Jesus, living bread, your people come to the eucharist as your guests.
Unite all whom you invite into a closer body …
Forgive and heal the divisions of our making.

Give thanks to the Lord.
Call upon God’s name.

Jesus, living bread, you ensure that none go hungry from your banquet.
Stir the leaders and governments to change unjust structures …
Forgive and overturn injustice whatever form it takes.

Give thanks to the Lord.
Call upon God’s name.

Jesus, living bread, your healing touch reached out to the sick.
Pour out your restoring presence on all who call out to you …
Lift up all who are bowed down from suffering and pain.

Give thanks to the Lord.
Call upon God’s name.

Jesus, living bread, you grieved the death of those close to you.
Look with compassion on all who grieve …
Embrace in your undying love those who have died…
Raise us to new life in you.

Give thanks to the Lord.
Call upon God’s name.


Holy and everliving God,
by your power we are created
and by your love we are redeemed;
guide and strengthen us by your Spirit,
that we may give ourselves to your service,
and live each day in love to one another and to you,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In darkness and in light,
in trouble and in joy,
help us, heavenly Father,
to trust your love,
to serve your purpose,
and to praise your name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

As Christ has taught us, we pray

Our Father in heaven,
   hallowed be your name,
   your kingdom come,
   your will be done,
       on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
   as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
   and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours    now and for ever.    Amen. 

Hymn of praise: Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer

Guide me, O thou great redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty,
Hold me with thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through:
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer;
Be thou still my strength and shield;
Be thou still my strength and shield.


When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell’s destruction
Land me safe on Canaan’s side:
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee;
I will ever give to thee.

The God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with us all.   Amen.

KEEP IN TOUCH

Our St Matthew’s website is being updated regularly:  https://stmattshastings.com

Also our St Matthew’s Facebook

CONTACTS

The Rev’d Alister Hendery: 021 742 434
Email: alister.hendery@waiapu.com

Parish Office (Tracey at home):  06 878 9476
Email: stmatthews.hastings@gmail.com

~ This copyright material is taken from A New Zealand Prayer Book / He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, © Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and is used in accordance with regulations.