Views from the Pews: Sharing with all who are in need

St mary's Sandsend.
St mary's Sandsend.

As Christians we follow, or are supposed to follow, a Gospel of love, of compassion, of justice, equality and forgiveness.

Certain values are emphasized in what we call the Old Testament, the Jewish scriptures that establish the heart and soul of Jewish faith and practice. These are perpetuated in our New Testament. At the core of Judeo Christian teaching is the command to “love the Lord your God with all your heart...and your neighbour as yourself”. Only by fulfilling this commandment do we demonstrate our love of Christ. And Christ makes it clear just who is our neighbour.

In the Mulgrave Benefice, we have just held our Lammas celebration. The word Lammas derives from early English Loaf-mass (half-mass). We usually celebrate this as a holy communion on a farm in the parish. At this festival of the first fruits, we emphasise the significance of bread as basic sustenance for bodies and spiritual food to sustain our souls. Lammas rejoices in the very first fruits of the harvest, the first to be ripe, and we pray for bountiful and safe harvesting. Then weeks later we gather to give thanks for the completion of the harvest.

When the disciples asked Jesus how they should pray, he includes the plea, “give us this day our daily bread”. That is, bread enough for the needs of each single day, not huge storehouses and pantries full of food we do not need. Reflect on how much food is wasted in this throwaway age. While many queue in food banks, others are so enthralled by three for two offers that they buy three when they need one. When that item passes its sell-by date, it is cast into the bin. How many could be fed on what we throw away.

It is a good time to consider what it really means to share bread. It is not just a pious acknowledgement that we should do so as kind people. It goes much, much deeper. Jesus implies that it needs to be an important part of our relationship with God. When the children of Lythe school gather for their harvest thanksgiving, they will sing again and we will reflect on these words:

Now the harvest is all gathered,

Let us eat the Sharing Bread;

“In our family, all together,

As our custom is,” We said.

And we pass the Bread among us,

Thanking God that all are fed.

But there comes a gentle knocking,

Just before we break the Bread,

From our neighbours in the doorway:

“Harvest failed for us,” they said.

So we share the Bread among them,

Thanking God that all are fed.

Soon we hear a growing murmur,

As we eat the Sharing Bread,

From the neighbours of our neighbours...

And so it goes, neighbours of neighbours of neighbours, the whole human family, waiting to be fed. Let us our share bread, with all who are in need.