Series 6 of Bishop Steven Croft’s popular podcast, Come and Eat, encourages us to put ourselves in the way of God’s grace: to come and eat.

We are undoubtedly living through one of the greatest crises of our lives. Series 4, Reflections for a Church in Lockdown, and series 5, Comfortable Words, aims to resource the Church during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Series 1 – 3 of My (extraordinary) Family saw Bishop Steven talking with someone he’s come to know in his travels about their faith, their work and their story. What does it mean to them to become more Christ-like: contemplative, compassionate and courageous for the sake of God’s world?

Red grapes
Come and Eat – Prayer and Parties

Jesus loves parties. Everyone who reads the gospel knows that. The Eucharist is prayer and parties with a purpose: to fill us with hope and a fresh vision for what this world can become.

As we regather as a church around the table of the risen Lord, what are we to draw from this theme of the Eucharist as a meal which looks forward – a sign of hope and of the kingdom?


Bishop Steven has asked some of our very creative liturgists to draw together some resources and prayers for parishes to mark this season of regathering and rededication. These resources invite churches to renew their thanksgiving to God for the ‘wonderful sacrament’ of Holy Communion.


Image from Shutterstock.

Hands breaking a loaf of seeded bread in half
Come and Eat – The Bread of Life

“The bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world”.

Many of us find ourselves languishing in the wake of the pandemic. It’s good to remind ourselves – and the whole world – that Jesus came to bring life in all its abundance. The bread which Jesus gives, and is, is more than the food we need to stay physically alive. This is the nourishment we need to have life, to flourish again.

The second episode in this series on Holy Communion considers the Eucharist as a meal which looks back and remembers, calling to mind the story of manna and of John 6, after the feeding of the five thousand.


The music at the end is is Now the Green Blade Riseth, written by John McCrum, performed by Steve Winwood. Image from Shutterstock.

Come and Eat – The Exhausted Prophet

“The Lord, through his angel, simply sees what is needed. The Lord prepares a meal: fresh bread, cool, clear fresh water in a jar. Time to rest and sleep.”

Welcome to the first in a short series of podcasts on Holy Communion, the profound, wonderful meal at the heart of our faith.

Our starting point is the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19: the exhausted prophet, right at the end of his resources. Because that, if we’re honest, is where we are – tired and worn down, finding every day quite hard.

The Lord meets Elijah where he is – not with big visions or daunting tasks for the future, but with simply what he needs. An invitation to come and eat.

Garden

The Lamb of God: A journey through St John’s story of the passion

Our journey to the cross begins with the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. While the other three gospels focus on Jesus’ agony and inner turmoil, John instead focuses our attention elsewhere – on the real reason Jesus is drawn to the cross.

  • Hymn: There is a Green Hill Far Away, recorded and performed at home by Tom and Mandy Green for this podcast.
  • Reading: John 18.1-14 by Julia Hollander. (NRSV)
  • Commentary by Bishop Steven.
  • A minute of silence follows +Steven’s commentary for personal reflection.
  • Taizé: Kyrie, kyrie, eleison.

This episode was produced by the Revd Charlotte Bannister-Parker in collaboration with Steven Buckley and Phil Hind. Music performed under CCLI 535160 and Limited Online Music License LE-0018115. Licenses registered to the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance. Album artwork ‘Jerusalem’, Charlotte Bannister-Parker.

Image Credit: Shutterstock (1392667502)

The Lamb of God: A journey through St John’s story of the passion

We see both darkness and light around us in this pandemic – the darkness of human isolation and suffering; the light of love as people reach out to one another. The story of Jesus’ passion takes place in the cold darkness of night, but John tells us that light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.

  • Reading John 18.15-27 by Julia Hollander. (NRSV).
  • Commentary by Bishop Steven.
  • A minute of silence follows +Steven’s commentary for personal reflection.
  • Taizé: Kyrie, kyrie, eleison.

This episode was produced by the Revd Charlotte Bannister-Parker in collaboration with Steven Buckley and Phil Hind. Music performed under CCLI 535160 and Limited Online Music License LE-0018115. Licenses registered to the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance.

Image credit: Shutterstock (378764134)

Sculptures

The Lamb of God: A journey through St John’s story of the passion

The Evangelists invite us to place ourselves in the story through the characters who come and go. Like them, we are both powerful and powerless before this story of the cross.

  • Reading John 18.28-40 by Julia Hollander. (NRSV)
  • Commentary by Bishop Steven.
  • A minute of silence follows +Steven’s commentary for personal reflection.
  • Taizé: Kyrie, kyrie, eleison.
  • Hymn: Amazing Love. What sacrifice, recorded and performed at home by Tom and Mandy Green for this podcast.

This episode was produced by the Revd Charlotte Bannister-Parker in collaboration with Steven Buckley and Phil Hind. Music performed under CCLI 535160 and Limited Online Music License LE-0018115. Licenses registered to the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance.

Image credit: Shutterstock (259696796)

Jesus wearing crown of thorns

The Lamb of God: A journey through St John’s story of the passion

As Jesus rides into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he is making a profound statement of who he claims to be. But in all that follows, Jesus takes this claim to kingship and power and to being God’s Son and God’s Messiah and turns it inside out.

  • Reading: John 19.1-16 by Julia Hollander. (NRSV)
  • Commentary by Bishop Steven.
  • A minute of silence follows +Steven’s commentary for personal reflection.
  • Taizé: Kyrie, kyrie, eleison.

This episode was produced by the Revd Charlotte Bannister-Parker in collaboration with Steven Buckley and Phil Hind. Music performed under CCLI 535160 and Limited Online Music License LE-0018115. Licenses registered to the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance.

Image credit: Shutterstock (671434105)

Crucifixion and sunlight

The Lamb of God: A journey through St John’s story of the passion

As we come to the centre of the story, we travel with Jesus to the cross. No-one takes Jesus’ life. He gives it. What has he done? What has been completed?

  • Reading: John 19.17-37 by Julia Hollander. (NRSV)
  • Commentary by Bishop Steven.
  • A minute of silence follows +Steven’s commentary for personal reflection.
  • Hymn: When I survey the wondrous cross, recorded and performed at home by Tom and Mandy Green for this podcast.

This episode was produced by the Revd Charlotte Bannister-Parker in collaboration with Steven Buckley and Phil Hind. Music performed under CCLI 535160 and Limited Online Music License LE-0018115. Licenses registered to the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance.

Image credit: Shutterstock (718434559)

Relief carving of Jesus

The Lamb of God: A journey through St John’s story of the passion

We end these reflections with much to think about, but hopefully with anticipation: not cast down by the solemn events we have rehearsed but deepened by them. The story is told but is not yet complete.

  • Reading John 19.38-24 by Julia Hollander. (NRSV).
  • Commentary by Bishop Steven.
  • A minute of silence follows for personal reflection.
  • Intercessions followed by The Lord’s Prayer Led by Paul Cowan.
  • Closing message from Bishop Steven.

This episode was produced by the Revd Charlotte Bannister-Parker in collaboration with Steven Buckley and Phil Hind. Music performed under CCLI 535160 and Limited Online Music License LE-0018115. Licenses registered to the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance.

Image credit: Shutterstock (203336479)

As we reach the sombre anniversary of the start of the first national lockdown, revisit this podcast from October 2020. Take a moment to reflect on all that has passed and cast your fears for the future on the Lord.


Look back over the last six months and reflect for a moment. What part has fear played in your own life and your life’s journey? What part is anxiety playing now in the key decisions of your life? Does it have too loud a voice? Does all of that fear and caution have the support of reason? Are there inner fears which you are keeping buried deep inside and cannot name or talk through with those closest to you? Are those chains of fear shaping the decisions you make in your work or your Christian service?

If that is the case, listen to the word of the Lord to you: “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand”.


The famous Dad’s Army episode at the start of this episode is taken from this BBC clip on YouTube
Photo: Shutterstock