Stories from Lockdown 6 - Refer to instructions...

Published on: 26th February 2021


As part of our stories from across our Diocese, Richard Jones, Parish Giving Advisor shares his reflection of living in lockdown, away from family. 

I recall just one thing from school Religious Education lessons. It’s the definition of a sacrament by St. Augustine of Hippo: “an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace.” How then could I possibly think that the work of local Food Banks and our support for them through our amazing local churches is “sacramental”?

I was recently reflecting on how so much of what we know that is helpful for the Christian life is implicit within the teaching of Jesus and the pages of the Gospels, most often within beautifully constructed parables. But, I wondered if we are all sometimes guilty of not focusing on those words of Jesus that are straightforward, plain-spoken, unembellished, clear instructions. Some sources suggest that Jesus gave 49 such “commandments”. They include: Repent (Matthew 4:17), Follow Me (Matthew 4:19), Rejoice (Matthew 5:11–12), Let Your Light Shine (Matthew 5:16) and Honour God’s Law (Matthew 5:17). Amongst the most well-known form can be found in Luke 22:19: Then He took the bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

When we meet together for a meal, we are doing something which is at the heart of the Christian faith - and of nearly every other faith too. It’s something that has central importance and a focal point within cultures the world over, and it’s almost always part of welcome, hospitality and sharing.

I recall a discussion between myself and Julie whilst enjoying lunch seated on bar-stools at the 12th-century font at The Hub, at St Peter’s, Peterchurch, here within the Diocese of Hereford. How did we feel about eating at a font within an active church? Initial feelings of shock and horror gave way to being mildly uncomfortable. As we discussed the experience over lunch we found much food for thought. If God is invited in and is present at our meal together during this special time of sharing, giving and receiving, then surely this is a sacramental act and a holy time? Surely, this shared meal is an extension and a ‘living out’ of the sacrament of Baptism and of all the thousands of Baptisms that have taken place at this beautiful font for over 800 years?

These recent difficult times have seen an outpouring of generosity and giving from communities and churches. Charity, or giving to others who have less than us, is a vitally important thing to do. We bring a solution to someone else’s problem or need. As Christians, we might say that God works through us and our actions to do these things. Then, add to the mix a good spoonful of generosity and we’re no longer simply giving to a need, but we begin to discover in ourselves ‘a need to give’. The solution still gets delivered but now it’s wrapped in love too.

So, charity – yes; generosity – yes: love – yes; but a sacrament?! Of course, fundamentally, giving to a Food Bank feeds someone who might otherwise go hungry and it’s always worth remembering that simple but stark fact. We are sharing a meal with a sister or a brother (and increasingly with a family with children). We may not be physically welcoming people to our kitchen table; we may not be joining them at theirs; we may not yet be gathering to fully share the meal of the Eucharist – the bread and wine of communion. However, in giving food to someone else, we are indeed sharing a meal in a very real way. A meal, which would not be possible without generous giving, has at its heart sharing, generosity, love, relationships and grace – something of God and God’s love within it.

I have sorely missed gathering together at our church family meal – the Eucharist – and to share bread and wine and to meet our Lord and Saviour. I sorely miss our cooking, preparing food and gathering together for family mealtimes at home, in Virginia, USA. - temporarily separated by both ocean and pandemic. However, through the small part, I’ve had locally in encouraging an incredible and generous response to our appeal for the Hereford Food Bank, I feel I’ve been able to break bread with people that I’ve never met, and who it is a joy and a privilege to support. And what could be more sacramental than that?


I hope and pray that you too have found something of God amongst the Harvest – amongst the many hundreds of tins of beans, soup and spam and packets of cereal, rice and pasta. Gifts that have made so many meals and that have shared so much love. Thanks be to God!


Richard Jones is Parish Giving Adviser within the Diocese of Hereford currently negotiating the challenges of emigration to the USA amidst politics and pandemic! Richard is also part of the Borderlink Benefice of Churches within the Abbeydore Deanery where he is active in support of the Hereford Food Bank.

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