Thought for the Week

By Fr Christopher Phillips, Assistant Curate, St Margaret's, Ilkley.

At this time of the year, Ilkley is quite a busy place. We are very lucky to have such a beautiful and well-kept town, and so quite often there are crowds of people along the Grove, and in our green spaces by the river. It is lovely to have seen young and old alike enjoying themselves in the recent good weather, and the way in which the community comes together for things like the visit of the Tour de France, and the Festival Market this weekend. At such gatherings, it’s not long before people become hungry. Visitors to any of these events in town are able to choose from a variety of different options: indeed, the sheer number of stalls adding to the choices of cafes and restaurants can be overwhelming!

But feeding hungry crowds of people isn’t always as easy as that. The Bible tells us of one occasion where a large crowd of over five thousand people were gathered to see Jesus, and how they had become hungry because it was late in the day. There seemed to be very little in the way of food for them: just five loaves, and two fish. But Jesus blesses the loaves and gives them to his disciples, who are told to feed the crowd, and everyone has more than enough to eat.

There are quite a lot of people living locally who struggle to find enough to eat. It’s not as obvious here in Ilkley as perhaps it is in other parts of the district, but Jesus’ message to his disciples is clear: instead of sending the crowds away to find their own food, he tells his disciples to give them something to eat. Despite the apparent scarcity, with Jesus’ help they are able to do more than they had imagined possible.

It’s the disciples who are doing the leg work here. So next time you are doing your shopping, please think of the many hungry people on our doorstep, and consider getting a bit extra for the Food Bank. Those who need its help are not as obvious as the crowds in town or by the shore, but their numbers are many. Jesus tells us not to send people away, but to feed them. If we all give whatever we can, and trust in him, then we can be confident that people’s lives will be transformed.