Blue Coat School 22/1/2003
I woke up this morning and I was helped. The radio journalists woke me with the news of the day and that helped me connect to what's going on in the world; And the music the DJ played, helped me feel ok about getting up in the dark, gave me the energy to face the day.
I sat down for breakfast and I was helped. Helped by the people who brought food to my kitchen table - the farmers and plantation workers who've provided raw materials for bread, cereals, and morning tea; the factory workers who've processed those raw materials, the shop workers who've shelved them and sold them to me.
I walked out of the house and I was aware of being helped. Helped by the town planners who created and maintain the park I enjoy walking through; helped by the binmen and roadsweepers keeping the paths clear and clean; helped by people I saw on the way who said hello and made me feel ok about myself.
All the time we are helped by others.
Sometimes those who help us do so very consciously. Like Jesus in the story we heard, who saw the crowd who had been with him all day, perhaps felt the pangs of hunger in his own stomach, and realised they needed feeding. We are helped by people who see our needs and act on them - like city councillors who provide roads and services, like whoever it is in our house who buys the food we eat.
Sometimes those who help us do so quite reluctantly. Like Jesus's disciples in the story we heard, who thought it would be impossible to feed that large crowd, but went along with Jesus eventually. We are helped by those who give of themselves reluctantly - like the young man who serves us in a fast food restaurant dreaming of that better job he'd much rather have.
And sometimes those who help us are people who at least try, even when it doesn't seem enough, like the boy in the story who offered his lunch to Jesus as a gesture more than a solution to the problem. We are helped by ordinary people who march against war in the face of powerful governments, or who nervously put an arm around us when we're upset, not knowing what to say to us, but wanting to show some support.
Help comes in all shapes and sizes, and often surprises us.
We may be surprised when people we don't even particularly like, help us. Like the classmate who asks clever questions which annoy us on one level, because we never thought of them, but help us understand the subject better.
We may be surprised to find we help others without even knowing we're doing it. You know, you help me regularly. Because I find it a healthy challenge to be asked to speak here each week. It helps keep me thinking, often about subjects I would otherwise neglect.
Let's give thanks for all those who help us and who by so doing, show us how we help others too.
Think of someone who has helped you today .... and give thanks that they are so positively connected to your life;
Think of someone who you have helped today .... and give thanks that you are so positively connected to them. Amen