Here on the south coast of Sussex I’ve just journeyed through the joyful season of harvest among the church communities I serve.
At Bognor Regis and Felpham Methodist Churches we invited donations of groceries and cash for Bognor Foodbank, and I was astounded by the generosity I witnessed. We had tables laden with groceries, and almost £500 in donations to support their ministry.
I find Harvest a time which makes me stop and take notice of what I have. To be reminded of the seasons of the year that work together in producing abundance from our land., To see those things to be grateful for that I can otherwise take for granted. To have an attitude of gratitude and praise to God all that he provides.
One of the stories we find in the New Testament is the feeding of 5000 men, plus women and children, with 5 loaves and 2 fish.
The gathering of the huge crowd had not been planned for, it was getting late and food had not been prepared. The disciples suggest to Jesus that he calls time to the event, sending the people off to get themselves some food. But Jesus says no, you find them something to eat.
I wonder how those disciples felt in that moment? It is a wonder to me that the gospel text doesn’t go on to record the mutterings of the disciples ‘who does he think he is, we’ve told him we’ve not food, where are we meant to get the food from?’
All the disciples find are 5 loaves and 2 fish. Little is available, but the need is great. Yet with a push from Jesus what they have is made available to be shared, and with a blessing it spreads much further than anyone could have imagined.
Rather than seeing the challenge of feeding a crowd of thousands with 5 loaves and 2 fish as an impossibility, Jesus showed that with gratitude and acceptance of what we have, abundance can come.
Too often we can fall into the trap of grumbling greed. if we are not careful, society can lure us into a way of life which seeks to look after me, myself and I, gathering everything for ourselves.
But that is not the way God calls Christians to live. God calls us to live lives of gratitude, thankfulness and contentedness with what we have and receive, and to share it with others.
In the disciples sharing, their orienting themselves towards others, many more were satisfied.
“Gratitude begins with paying attention, with noticing the goodness, beauty, and grace around us. The practice of gratitude becomes more central to our communities when we stop feeding the cycles of complaint and orient our lives around praise, testimony, and thanks.Christine Pohl, in ‘Living into Community’, p51.
Gratitude as a way of life brings us into a greater realisation of the goodness and beauty all around us day by day.
No matter what little we have, be it our time, our money, our energy, our resources, our gifts and graces, what we have in the widest sense of the word – with Christ it can be used to do immeasurable more than we may think or imagine.
To reach many people, to bring sustenance, satisfaction and goodness to people in a world which is in great need of goodness.
May we grow to live lives of deeper gratitude for what we have; lives of generosity to one another; and lives of faithfulness for all that Christ can accomplish through what we can offer.