Act of Worship for Sunday 1st August 2021

This short act of worship has been prepared for you to use if you are unable to attend church. If you are well enough why not spend a few moments with God, knowing that other people are sharing this act of worship with you.

Call to worship

God who nourishes, feed us in this worship.
God who nourishes, feed us in these words.
God who nourishes, feed us in these thoughts.
God who nourishes, feed us.
Amen.

Today's Psalm

Psalm 78:23-29

Yet he commanded the skies above,
and opened the doors of heaven;
he rained down on them manna to eat,
and gave them the grain of heaven.
Mortals ate of the bread of angels;
he sent them food in abundance.
He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,
and by his power he led out the south wind;
he rained flesh upon them like dust,
winged birds like the sand of the seas;
he let them fall within their camp,
all around their dwellings.
And they ate and were well filled,
for he gave them what they craved.

Stained glass of The Descent of the Holy Spirit, St Aloysius, Somers Town

Hymn: Jesus the Lord said ‘I am the Bread’ (Singing the Faith 252)

Sing / read / pray / proclaim the words or listen to a performance of "Jesus the Lord said ‘I am the Bread’" , or sing a verse of a hymn that comes to mind.

Jesus the Lord said:'I am the Bread,
the Bread of Life for the world am I.
The Bread of Life for the world am I,
the Bread of Life for the world am I.'
Jesus the Lord said:'I am the Bread,
the Bread of Life for the world am I.'

Jesus the Lord said:'I am the Vine,
the true and fruitful Vine am I.
The true and fruitful Vine am I,
the true and fruitful Vine am I.'
Jesus the Lord said:'I am the Vine,
the true and fruitful Vine am I.'

Jesus the Lord said:'I am the Way,
the true and living Way am I.
The true and living Way am I,
the true and living Way am I.'
Jesus the Lord said:'I am the Way,
the true and living Way am I.'

Jesus the Lord said:'I am the Light,
the one true Light of the world am I.
The one true Light of the world am I,
the one true Light of the world am I.'
Jesus the Lord said:'I am the Light,
the one true Light of the world am I.'

Jesus the Lord said:'I am the Life,
the Resurrection and the Life am I.
The Resurrection and the Life am I,
the Resurrection and the Life am I.'
Jesus the Lord said:'I am the Life,
the Resurrection and the Life am I.'

Let us pray together

For feeding our souls, we thank you.
For nourishing our bodies, we thank you.
For eating with us, we thank you.
For the times we’re rejected your food, we are sorry.
For the invitations to eat with you we have turned down, we are sorry.
Amen.

Gennesaret fishing by Nicholas Roerich

Today’s Gospel Reading

John 6:24-35

So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

When they found him on the other side of the lake, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.’ Then they said to him, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’ So they said to him, ‘What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” ’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’

Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Detailed carving picturing the Multiplication of the Loaves, by Balavendra Elias, in St George’s church, Hangleton

Time to Reflect

by Reverend John Morton

The author of Sunday’s reflection wonders what the last thing you ate was. Was it ‘good’ or ‘bad’, was it ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’? It’s a valid query, yet the question put to Jesus in this morning’s gospel text had more to do with proof. What can you do”?’ they asked him.

If we want to find out more about someone we often ask ‘what do you do?’ It often means what kind of work, what sort of job do you do? Rarely does the person who is asked this question interpret it by what they do in their spare time.

I am reminded of an instance in my previous circuit when there was to be an ecumenical service in one of the Methodist churches. There were a number of people present. In the vestry before the service began – those who were taking part in the worship. I remember that the Associate Anglican Priest who had been invited to preach was curious as to what ministries the various people held within the church – what was their task in other words. One person said that they were just helping out and were not that important.

As Christians we are rightly taught not to have a self-important attitude and to show humility instead. However, we can often display, instead, a sense of false modesty. Possessing a gift for something specific is a wonderful thing and needs to be recognised for what it is – by others yes, but also by ourselves.

There are often roles to fulfil within church. When I have asked for volunteers, it is often common practice for some people to take an interest in their own footwear, hoping that someone else will put themselves forward. We can justify our actions by seemingly credible excuses: ‘I haven’t time’. ‘I’m not up to it’. ‘I wouldn’t know where to start’. ‘I’d like to, but . . . ‘. The unspoken message is that people have plenty to do already, and no-one relishes the prospect of yet more work or added responsibility.

That’s not to suggest we should say yes to every appeal for help and never think of saying no. There are jobs we’re cut out for, and jobs we aren’t; responsibilities that are right for us and others that are wrong and the need is to carefully and prayerfully, in consultation with others, discern which is which.

Not all jobs, of course, are done in church and it’s easy to compartmentalise what we do and when.

It’s usual for us to refer to the work of ministers, priests, or missionaries as ‘sacred’, and that of lawyers, farmers, and engineers as ‘secular’. But it’s also inaccurate. Work, by its very nature, is holy. The Biblical story is dominated by people who have jobs in gardening, shepherding, the military, politics, carpentry, tent-making, homemaking, fishing, and more.

Working in a team is important – it means exercising our personal gifts, but also about appreciating the gifts and graces of other people.

I was prompted to say something in the vestry after the person had said they were not really important in response to the Anglican Minister’s question about what they did in the church. I’d said that all jobs are important – they’re just different. We know that Jesus did not work independently of God the Father, but in union with him.

I wonder what Jesus would have made of the new National Food Strategy to tax salt and sugar. Bread, however, is the main focus of the Gospel text. People eat bread to satisfy physical hunger and to sustain physical life. We can satisfy spiritual hunger and sustain spiritual life only by a right relationship with Jesus Christ. No wonder he called himself the Bread of Life, and Christ must be invited into our daily walk to sustain spiritual life.

Christ Feeding The Multitude by Gustav Dore

Time to Reflect

by Charity K.M. Hamilton

I wonder what the last thing you ate was? Was it ‘good’ or ‘bad’, was it ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’? It’s strange, I think, how we give the food we eat a moral weighting such that for some of us our food choices can become a difficult thing; even worse, the food we eat can become a tool of control for others who make judgements of us and often try to curb our behaviours based upon our desire to eat and the food we choose to eat.

Jesus often spent time sharing in acts of eating with others; eating is an important feature in the ways in which we understand and know God and the people of God. Eating matters.

What foods or meals have you shared which have also nourished you spiritually?

In what ways do you share in the ‘food that endures eternal life’?

Take a time to sit quietly.

Praying Hands by Albrecht Durer

A time of prayer

For the hungry
in our world, in our churches and in our communities,
we pray…
may they hunger no more.

For those who hold the power to feed others…
may they be grace-filled.

For those who struggle with food and eating,
in our world, in our churches and in our communities,
we pray…
may they struggle no more.

For those who sit at a table of sickness, loneliness, grief or fear,
we pray…
may they know your nourishing love.

Feed and nourish us all.

Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For thine is the kingdom
The power and the glory
For ever and ever
Amen.

stained glass window of the resurrection in St George's Cathedral, Southwark

Hymn: Jesus, Bread of Life

Sing / read / pray / proclaim the words or listen to a performance of 'Jesus, Bread of Life’, or sing a verse of a hymn that comes to your mind.

Jesus, bread of life
Manna from heaven
Broken for the world
Offered up for every man

Feast of angels becomes food for the weary
And hungry hearts are filled
When you open up your hand
When you open up your hand

O, Lord, come fill us with your love
This table laid for us
There is more than enough
Jesus, bread of life

Sister, take what you need
Anything I own
There is no famine here
Jesus’ love will multiply

Brother, what’s mine is yours
You are not alone
There is no shortage here
Jesus’ love satisfies
Jesus’ love satisfies

O, Lord, come fill us with your love
This table laid for us
There is more than enough
Jesus, bread of life

God The Creator mosaic by Hildreth Meiere in St Bartholemew's, New York City

A prayer of blessing

May you know the God who offers you nourishment;
May you share in the food that brings you life;
May you know the welcome of the table of God;
and may you know the blessing of God,
the Father,
the Son
and the Holy Spirit,
be with us,
those we love and those we ought to love.
This day and always.
Amen.