Rev. Rosemary Webb
3rd August 2014
100 Years on we Must Work for Peace and Justice

I shouldn’t moan but it was hot last week, it’s lovely if you have nothing to do but if you are trying to get things done, have to keep getting in and out of a car which feels like a furnace and then drive round the corner to discover three way traffic lights again on Linkfield Lane, well it is tiring.

So let us think how the disciples were feeling in the Gospel reading. Things hadn’t been going that well for Jesus, his own people, the people of Nazareth, where he had grown up had rejected him, they wouldn’t listen to the carpenters son, if that wasn’t bad enough he had just learned that John the Baptist had been beheaded. No wonder Christ wanted to withdraw to a quiet place, a place where he could think and pray.

But as we know it was only in Nazareth that people wouldn’t listen and as soon as the crowds realised where he was the followed him, wanting to learn more, to hear more about their heavenly father.

So how would the disciples be feeling, how would we be feeling if we had been with Jesus. I began by moaning about the hot weather but think how hot it could have been in Israel, the disciples would be hungry, tired and fed up, they were only human they wanted a rest, to have some peace.

But still the crowds followed, I can nearly hear the disciples saying ‘please Jesus send them away it’s getting late, you did promise us we could have a rest, please let us. The crowds must also be hungry, men, women and children, Jesus send them home before it is too dark.’

The disciples still didn’t truly understand Jesus, and I suspect it is still the same today for many people. They didn’t understand that Jesus will never reject anyone, send anyone who wants to be with him away. He loves us all too much for that, we are all always welcome at his side.
I can’t imagine how they felt when Jesus told them to give the crowds something to eat. One boy has five loaves and two fish they replied what use are they?

‘Taking the five loaves and two fish, he looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves and the disciples gave them to the crowds.’

Just as the disciples felt the situation hopeless five loaves between so many, so in life today do we get so caught up in all the dreadful happenings that we miss the divine reality and exists here among us, hidden from our sight but truly here. Like the disciples we may not be able to solve a situation but God can and will use us to carry out his wishes. If we welcome people, show them God’s love then truly marvellous things can happen.

We have to learn – Jesus, God the Son, handed over the problem to God the Father and what seemed impossible was no problem at all. The problem may still remain, but if we trust God enough he will help us find a solution so that we can move on.

And of course this parable reminds us that we are fed by him each time we come to his Table. We receive that greatest bread of all, his body given for us on the Cross. Just as the bread in the miracle never ran out, so Christ’s body is here for all. It is the bread that will reveal God’s will to his people that will sustain us at all times. When Jesus said ‘do this in remembrance of me’, I truly believed he meant us to receive his body whenever we can.

Jesus wanted his disciples to think not in terms of what they did not have but rather in terms of what God had given them. And that surely is what we must teach, God gives his love to us. There are no forms to fill in, no exams to pass, it doesn’t matter the colour of our skin, whether we are rich or poor all we need to remember is that God loves us and as with the loaves of bread his love will never run out.

As todays disciples we are called to embrace challenge, not to sit on the side line but to work for justice and equality, and this is what we must embrace in our Mission Action Planning. We must see life through God’s eyes; see our neighbours as God sees them.

Wherever we are, whatever the problem God is with us. Wherever there is injustice, pain. Grief, hardship or hunger God is willing us to help, to pray, to work for justice and equality. He showed the disciples what to do and I believe he is showing the world today what to do, if only it would listen to his message.

Today the world seems to be descending into a world of violence and bitterness, with little respect for human life. People flying on holiday killed because their plane crossed a country in Europe, children in Gaza killed because they are sheltering in a building designated as a UN safe house.

One hundred years ago today saw the beginning of WW1, that war which was supposed to end all wars, a war which I find it hard to understand the reason for, if the bullet which killed Archduke Ferdinand had missed him, would there still have been a war? We will never know. But it was a war which saw over sixteen million people lose their lives, it saw young men volunteering to fight so that we might have freedom, willing to give their lives; but families who just happened to live in what became a war zone also lost their lives. And it still continues as a nation we still ask our young to be willing to put their lives at risk for our freedom.

Rupert Brooks wrote ‘If I should die think only this of me that there’s some corner of a foreign field that is forever England’. Sadly, on the surface, there is something quite beautiful about those words, I said sadly because war is hell, it is was a living hell for all those young men who one hundred years ago queued to fight for King and Country.

So what can we do today in memory of them and all the other countless people who have lost their lives in war? Please don’t sit there thinking there is nothing we can do. There is. If you have a computer and just five minutes to spare you can add your name to the many thousands of other names in the on-line campaigns for peace. If you don’t know where to look there is Amnesty International who were in church last week, Avaaz, Human Rights Watch to name but three. When enough people stand up to be counted governments do take notice.

As Christians we are called to love our neighbour as ourselves and I can’t believe that means we can sit back and watch children, men and women being killed because their neighbour doesn’t like them. We as Christ’s disciples today must work for justice and peace throughout God’s world, we mustn’t let weariness defeat us, Jesus taught that to the disciples I believe he is saying that to us now.

Matthew 14:13-21