Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
A crisis was unfolding before Jesus and the Disciples as they stood on the mountain.
The crowds were advanced but they had no provisions.
This passage presents two responses.
Firstly in the example of Philip. Jesus turns to Philip him and asks “Where are we to buy bread for these people eat?” Philip responds with disbelief that Jesus was even thinking of feeding them at all - Impossible! Philip gives Jesus a logical, calculated response, “It’s going to cost more half than a year's wages to feed this lot!”
The second example is that of a child. A little boy with no dialogue nor clever words. Simply an action: hands out offering up his bread and fish. It was all he had, sacrificially given up to the Rabbi standing before him.
How would you have responded to this unfolding dilemma if you didn’t already know how the story ends?
Disbelief due the impossibility or belief in the possibility?
Today we are facing a very real and very severe crisis. We have thousands of people on our doorstep without the Bread of Life. Thousands of people are spiritually hungry, lost, seeking, confused, lonely, desperate, disillusioned.
We know this isn’t only in our parish. It’s nationwide. The church is rapidly in decline.
The church is growing older. Churches of all denominations are closing up and being developed into Grade 1 listed apartments. This is not what we want for Christ Church in 50 years time. It is tragic to see churches all over the country surviving not thriving.
During Creationtide we are forced to look ahead to the future. What sort of world are we leaving behind for the next generations?
We must also consider what is the spiritual landscape we are leaving for them.
Are we giving them any hope at all? I wholeheartedly believe the tide can be turned because God hasn’t given up on the people out there and neither should we.
God loves this community and these families, and these children. And so should we.
We are presented with a choice. It is up to us to invest in the future - to invest in our children, young people and families.
Jesus turns to us, his disciples, in the same way he turned to Philip and he says:
“Here’s the need, what’re we going to do?”
How do you respond to Jesus?
With earthly eyes, “the need is too great, the maths doesn’t add up, we can’t do it!” Or, do you respond with the eyes of a child, with eyes of faith. “Wow, here’s our opportunity. This is all we have, its not much, but it has potential, here Jesus - you take it. You bless it.”
If we were to look into our hands, what do we have to offer in ways of children’s ministry, here at Christ Church?
Children and youth work often happens outside of our main worship - so let me just let you know if you’re not sure.
- CC Kids, our Sunday school, faithfully carried by two wonderful women.
- CC Youth - Our Sunday evening youth group of a few faithful young people, supported by a handful of volunteers.
- Wheels and Squeals - our longstanding baby and toddler group, again carried by faithful and committed ladies.
- The Source - our monthly family service, with a handful of committed faithful families.
Our prayer is that these vital activities are supported and encouraged, so they will be sustainable for years and years to come, that they will flourish and stand the test of time.
We too are blessed with existing links in the community.
CC United, the Scouts, with little hands and schools.
This is our ‘loaves and fish’. This is all ripe with potential for growth.
We must be value and be grateful for what we have and offer it up to the Lord to multiply.
I am hopeful and excited about the future of Christ Church.
Picture it - these empty easts occupied by new families coming to faith in Christ.
Our church growing younger, intergenerational, teeming with life.
We ask where are the missing generations - where are the 20, 30, 40 year olds? Well they’re the parents. If you put on great ministry to children, you’re putting on great ministry to parents too. I am delighted to say God is already doing a new thing, and building on what already exists.
We have been accepted and chosen to partner with Bubble Church. A resource to deliver age appropriate, joy filled worship for young, unchurched families - with puppets and action songs - it is going to reshape and rebrand The Source. It will still be monthly at 4pm and launching in the new year after advertising through Christmas.
But with this exciting new thing, we must too be investing in our existing Sunday School, Youth Group, and Toddler group. We need hands-on support, we need new energy in these ministries too.
Because this ministry is vital.
Statistically, 83% of Christians made their commitment to Jesus between the ages of 4 to 14.
We need everyone behind this because this belongs to all of us. We do not receive the fruit without labour.
Jen did an incredible job leading the children and families ministry. And we give thanks for her. Having an employed worker accelerates growth - because it is a huge job! It needs coordinating, relationships need investing in, teams need building. So we must be praying in our next children and families worker.
Jesus took the loaves and the fish and he blessed it.
Who is Jesus to you?
Do you believe Jesus is capable of miracles today?
Today, we are worshipping the same Jesus who provided so much there were 12 baskets full left over.
Don’t be disheartened by earthly vision. Have faith, believe in the power of God’s spirit.
Believe he provides
He did it then
He does it now
Believe God has plans for Christ Church beyond anything we could ask or imagine.
Because God longs to see his kingdom built here, that this place will be where his love breaks through into peoples lives and they are forever transformed
Let us offer what we have,
that he may bless it,
for his Glory’s sake.