Feeding the Thousands not just with Food!


This short act of worship has been prepared for you.  I invite you to share in a few moments with God knowing that other people within Paulton, Trinity and Chew Stoke Methodist Churches are sharing this act of worship with you.

Revd Martin Slocombe

Basket of Bread



Psalm 17

Prayer for Deliverance from Persecutors

1 Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry;
   give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit. 
2 From you let my vindication come;
   let your eyes see the right. 

3 If you try my heart, if you visit me by night,
   if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me;
   my mouth does not transgress. 
4 As for what others do, by the word of your lips
   I have avoided the ways of the violent. 
5 My steps have held fast to your paths;
   my feet have not slipped. 

6 I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
   incline your ear to me, hear my words. 
7 Wondrously show your steadfast love,
   O saviour of those who seek refuge
   from their adversaries at your right hand. 

15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
   when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.


Our opening hymn this week is a great hymn of praise, which I have chosen particularly because of the words in the 3rd verse, written by Revd Rupert Davies.  Unfortunately, I cannot find a YouTube version which includes this verse, so if you are watching the recording, please make sure you read the words of verse 3 as well.


Hymn – Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QQezNMfaL4

   1      Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
           O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation!
           All ye who hear, brothers and sisters, draw near,
           praise him in glad adoration.

   2      Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
           surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee:
           ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
           who with his love doth befriend thee.

   3      Praise to the Lord, who doth nourish thy life and restore thee,
           fitting thee well for the tasks that are ever before thee,
           then to thy need he like a mother doth speed,
           spreading the wings of grace o’er thee.

   4      Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
           who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
           sheddeth his light, chaseth the horrors of night,
           saints with his mercy surrounding.

   5      Praise to the Lord!  O let all that is in me adore him!
           All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before him!
           Let the amen sound from his people again:
           gladly for aye we adore him.

Joachim Neander (1650–1680)
translated by Catherine Winkworth (1827–1878) and Rupert E. Davies (1909–1994)


Dear God, you are the provider of all that we need.  You look deep inside us, seeing not only our outer but our inner needs.
Have compassion on us, we pray.
Feed us today from your holy word, and we will be filled.

Amazing God, source of all that is, we worship you, the source of light and life, creator, redeemer, bread for the hungry, water for the thirsty.


God of all wisdom and grace, we acknowledge our selfish desire for all the things in this world which tempt us away from you.  We desire comfort and safety, we want to take the easy path, and we want to be in control of our lives.  Remind us of your love which enfolds us each and every day, and help us to turn to you for the nourishment and fulfilment we need to live our lives to the fullest.

We repent of our decisions which drive us away from your love, and we are ever thankful that in your mercy you continue to forgive us and provide us with a way back to you.

Loving God, enfold us in your love, and grant us peace.




Our gospel reading this morning is the very well known story of the feeding of the 5000.  A story known to us from our Sunday School days.

Matthew 14:13-21

Feeding the Five Thousand

13 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. 14When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15When 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.’ 16Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ 17They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ 18And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ 19Then 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. 20And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.21And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.


Hymn - Eat this bread, drink this cup www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDqk-DMS4Mk

                Eat this bread, drink this cup, come to me and never be hungry.
                Eat this bread, drink this cup, trust in me and you will not thirst.
                Jesus Christ, bread of life, those who come to you will not hunger.
                Jesus Christ, risen Lord, those who trust in you will not thirst.

   1      Christ is the bread of life,
           the true bread sent from the Father.

   2      Our ancestors ate manna in the desert,
           but this is the bread come down from heaven.

   3      Eat his flesh and drink his blood,
           and Christ will raise you up on the last day.

   4      Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.

   5      If we believe and eat this bread, we will have eternal life.

Taizé Community
Based on John 6


Over the last couple of weeks, I seem to have spent almost all my time reading risk assessments, attending meetings about reopening buildings and what that might demand, and dealing with the practicalities of selling two of our churches which closed a number of years ago.  Buildings are very much uppermost in my mind at this time!  And then last week I read an article written by Revd Leslie Newton, Chair of the Yorkshire North and East District, in which he very helpfully reminded me that “our buildings can be wonderful servants; but they can sometimes become demanding masters”.  How very true.

The feeding of the 5000 is a story known to us all.  A large crowd gathers to hear Jesus, and the practicalities of dealing with them are troubling for the disciples.  Does this sound familiar?  It would be easy for Jesus to dismiss the people and send them away.  But rather, Jesus tells his disciples to feed the people.  But they have nothing to feed the people with, just 5 loaves and 2 fish.  What good is their tiny offering in the face of so much need?  But they bring it to Jesus, who takes what they offer and feeds the crowd, not just with what they need, but provides an ample sufficiency such that there will be enough, and more, and 12 baskets of left-overs were collected.

In this story, Jesus is responding to the physical need to provide food for the people to eat at the end of a long day, but as disciples, their role will also be to feed the people spiritually.  Their need for spiritual sustenance is just as important as the physical food they receive.  And today, our role, as disciples in 2020, is also to feed both each other, and those that God sends to us.  We are very good at doing that in a physical way.  Bacon sandwiches and home-made cakes will always be popular.  But we are less confident in our ability to feed people in a spiritual way.  We worry that we do not have the resources to do that, or perhaps lack confidence in our own faith.  Like the disciples, we need to trust that whatever we bring to God, he will take our small offerings and bless them, and will provide the means by which all those who hunger for a new understanding of life can be fed.

When lockdown began some 4 months ago, we all started talking about this being an opportunity to reimagine church in a new way, an opportunity for change.  But as we now work towards reopening our churches in September, I am saddened that we do not seem to be embracing these opportunities, but are taking the safe option of trying to return to what we were familiar with.   

The time has come to re-evaluate how we live as communities of worshipping Christians.  No longer should we continue to allow our retired volunteers to feel they have no retirement because they are overwhelmed in their practical work for the church.  Worship should be an expression of our love for God, joyful and Spirit-led, not an occupation which weighs us down.  We need to find a new way for our buildings to support our mission, rather than being the demanding master which becomes the focus of all our efforts. Perhaps it has taken this lockdown for us to realise just how demanding a master our buildings have become, of both our time and our resources

Our churches were built 100 or so years ago to support the mission of that time, and they did that very well.  But times have changed, and we need to look at the assets we have with fresh eyes and find new ways in which our buildings can enable and serve our mission of today.  Coronavirus means that we may no longer be able to use our buildings in the way we have been doing, so perhaps now is the time to find new uses and new ways of feeding those around us.

Imagine what we might be able to achieve if we were relieved of the burdens that weigh us down, and we are freed to follow our calling to be disciples?

Imagine what we might be able to achieve if our meetings stopped talking about property and started talking about mission and outreach? 

“Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’”  Today we are equally challenged about how we should be  feeding others with the word and love of God.  Are we too distracted by the practical to be able to give of the spiritual? 

After the earth-shattering events of Pentecost, Jesus appears to his disciples by the Sea of Tiberias.  After a hard night fishing on the lake, he prepared breakfast for them, and fed and restored them.  After the meal, Jesus asks Simon Peter three times, “do you love me?”.  Peter responds positively, “of course I do”, but becomes increasingly agitated, and so Jesus reminds him of how he needs to show that love.  “Feed my lambs … tend my sheep … feed my sheep”.   

Has church become a burden which weighs us down rather than the place where we are fed and restored to full strength, so we can go out to feed the hungry?

Feed the five thousand

If you have any thoughts on this subject, please share them with me.

Intercessions & Lords Prayer

We bring our prayers, loving God, for all those who are hungry in this world. 

For the physically hungry who need to be fed, whilst we throw away so much excess.  For those who have no idea where the next meal is coming from, or who have to rely on foodbanks and other means of practical support ……

We pray for the spiritually hungry who are looking for answers to the great questions of life, but have no idea where to look or who to ask ……

We pray for the churches in our Circuit, this week for Peasedown St John, and their minister, David Winstanley as they seek direction and the means by which to feed the souls in that community.

We pray for our families and friends, and for all those in need at this present time.

Lord, in your mercy.  Hear our prayer.


Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

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.


Hymn – The Church of Christ, in every age www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnrPuwnukUk

   1      The Church of Christ, in every age
           beset by change but Spirit-led,
           must claim and test its heritage
           and keep on rising from the dead.

   2      Across the world, across the street,
           the victims of injustice cry
           for shelter and for bread to eat,
           and never live until they die.

   3      Then let the servant Church arise,
           a caring Church that longs to be
           a partner in Christ's sacrifice,
           and clothed in Christ's humanity.

   4      For he alone, whose blood was shed,
           can cure the fever in our blood,
           and teach us how to share our bread
           and feed the starving multitude.

   5      We have no mission but to serve
           in full obedience to our Lord:
           to care for all, without reserve,
           and spread his liberating Word.

Fred Pratt Green (1903–2000)


By the end of the day, the crowds must have been exhausted.
They left with full stomachs and full hearts.
They had met with Jesus.

You have fed us this morning, Lord, and we go out to live the lives you call us to.
May we be conscious of your perfect timing in our lives, as we reach out to the outsiders as well as to our own.
Bless us, Lord.  Amen.

And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you, now and forever more.  Amen






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