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Thursday, 10 March 2016

Small contributions can have significant effects

Here is today's sermon for the Eucharist at St Stephen Walbrook based on John 6. 1 - 14 and collaged together from various sources:

'... the young boy brought barley loaves and fish to Jesus ... Barley loaves ... were one third of the price of the wheat variety; it was the bread of the poor. And then there were the two small fish. The Greek word used for these fish in John’s gospel is “osparion”, which meant they were certainly not fresh fish from the Sea of Galilee. “Osparion” were either small dried or pickled fish ... The young boy may have generously offered all he had but that offering was meagre in the extreme. Little wonder that Andrew should say despairingly to Jesus: “But, what are they among so many”?

Yet, Jesus willingly took what was offered and, far from commenting on the poor offering set before him, he gave thanks over the loaves and fish. And, as Jesus gave thanks a transformation took place and there was enough for all to be fed and, we learn later in the chapter, to be satisfied. With the transforming grace of Jesus even our poorest offerings can become something extraordinary.'

'Bishop Tom Wright in his commentary on St John’s Gospel says ... that all God calls us to do is to bring what we have to Jesus in prayer. We tell Him what we need. We then let Jesus bring the two together and make it enough for all! As that marvellous prayer puts it, the Lord Jesus truly can ‘transform the poverty of our riches by the fullness of his Grace’.'

It is easy for us to think that big is best and that what we have and are is too little to make an impact but this story says otherwise. Jesus takes and uses the little that the young boy offers. Small is beautiful, as E. F. Schumacher reminded us, and as the images we have been viewing this morning state, our small actions or contribution, combined with those of others, can then have a big effect. The butterfly effect which is found in Chaos Theory and the multiplier effect in economics both show, on the basis of research, that small changes and small contributions can have significant effects.

Hattie May Wiatt was a young girl in Philadelphia in the 1880s who began saving towards the building of a church which could accommodate the large number of children going to Sunday School in those days. Hattie May died young and after her death the pastor of the church, Rev. Russell Conwell was given the 57 cents that she had saved. He used these to begin a fundraising campaign which resulted in the building of a church, a University and a Hospital.

We need the contribution that you can make to St Stephen Walbrook, however small it may seem to you, and in whatever way you can make that contribution. The mission and ministry of this church is the combined effect of the contributions that each of us make. God has given you resources, time and talents, so I encourage you to reflect prayerfully on all that you can and do give back to him in order that together we can combine our individual offerings to make a bigger impact for him.


The Voices of East Harlem - Little People.

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