Feed my sheep (Pam Smith)

Monday, 11 May, 2009

Pam SmithPam Smith asks what Jesus meant when he said 'Feed my sheep'.

When our grown up sons come home, we always have a takeaway. It's shorthand for a lot of things – this is still your home, you're special, I am still part of this family, being together is worth celebrating.

Jesus told Peter to 'feed my sheep'. He fed the multitudes; he was known to the disciples he met on the road to Emmaus in the breaking of the bread. On the night before he died, he had supper with his friends and said 'do this, in remembrance of me'. And when he met with his friends on the beach after his resurrection, he fed them.

When I became a Christian, I didn't take communion because I wasn't confirmed. Week after week, I longed to receive but had to hold back.

During a very rare communion service in a young offenders institution, one of the 'lads' asked what was happening. Then he jumped up, muttered 'I want some of that!' and joined the queue. The next week he asked to be baptised.

I asked a group of three boys under the age of seven why they wanted to take communion. They heard the priest say, week in week out,  'Though we are many, we are one body, because we all share in one bread' – and then weren't given any bread. They deeply desired to be part of the body.

At the recent pioneer minister conference at Ridley Hall, it was stated that a fresh expression should be working towards regular communion services because this was a mark of 'being church'.

Many of us were left with questions.

Should the Eucharist be seen as a target? Where does lay leadership fit in? Does the Eucharist create a Christ-centred community? Or is a Christ-centred community, by definition, Eucharistic? What does a fresh expression of the Eucharist look like? And if we're not church – what are we?

About the author: 

Pam Smith is priest in charge of i-church, an online community founded by the Diocese of Oxford. Previously she was a Reader (Licensed Lay Minister) in the Coventry Diocese and worked as a lay prison chaplain.


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