The Ninth Sunday after Trinity | Choral Eucharist

  • Lections

    Isaiah 55.1-15; Matthew 14.13-21

  • Preacher

    The Rev'd Dr Thomas Sharpe, Succentor

The sermon preached at the Choral Eucharist on Sunday 6 August.

What is truth?  Pilate sneered at Jesus at his trial.

What is truth?

For Pilate, there was no such thing as truth, only expediency; no such thing as reality, only his own survival; no firm foundation, only his own tenuous graspon his position, his power and what wealth he could wring from the people under his control.

What a terrifying and uncertain way to live your life.


What is truth?  is a blasphemy and a lie.

It is a lie, because it claims that there is no truth, only narrative, that there is no reality, only what we construct to be useful to us. This is a lie, that is used by the hopeless, in nihilistic search for comfort, and the wicked, to take out the foundations from under others’ feet.

If you want to control people, start by telling them that nothing is true, that nothing is real, gaslight them at an existential level until they feel they know nothing… and then sell them your narrative hard, until it becomes their life.

This lie is alive and it flourishes amongst us in Pilate’s age and ours.

But this lie… What is truth… is not just a lie, a political trick deployed with cynicism and absence of conviction…

For Christians it is a blasphemy.

It is a blasphemy…
to claim that there is no truth, when you stand in the presence
of the one who said, “I am the truth”.

It is a blasphemy
to proclaim that there is no reality, that nothing really matters,
in the presence of the one who said,
I am the way the truth and the life.

In a world which says that there is no reality, there is no truth,
there is no life but what can profit Pharaoh,
Moses asks, who are you Lord,
and the Spirit speaks from the burning bush

I am the bread… I am the light
I am the door… I am the shepherd…
I am the resurrection… I am the way
I am the vine and you are the branches.

I am that I am… I am reality… I am truth… I am being
I am your rock and your life and your hope.

Trust… me…
for truth is. And reality is. And I am… it.


Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labour for that which does not satisfy?

Oh how much money I have spent trying to build reality around me.
How I’ve filled my home with things… to construct my sense of self.
At the end of the day, we’re just our things after all, right?
So the advertisers tell us.

How I’ve chased after all sorts of unrealities that might make my life more lively… all sorts of dreams, escapes, brands and lifestyles.
Who are we but our brand after all, am I wrong?
So the influencers tell us.


I’ve sought out love and lust
on page and screen, downloaded and streamed,
It’s totally real isn’t it.
I know they’re actors but surely they mean it
and I can have it, like that, if I keep watching.
Then I will really feel alive… feel in love.


I’ve tried to make my body fit the dream…
If only I commit to be my best self, my better self…
because this self is not enough… just look at it…
if I starve myself and work myself, I too can be worthy of living
like them… those people who speak of wellness
and look oh so much better than me…
then I will be really alive, won’t I? Better?




Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labour for that which does not satisfy?

Be sceptical of anyone who claims to be true…
I am not true, but I seek to follow the one who is.

Be sceptical of anyone who claims to see things as they really are…
who claims in a world of unreality to show you a reality
filled with conspiracy and hate speech.

I have no power to see things as they really are.
I do not have reality at my fingertips.
But I do follow the one who is the source of all that is real.
I am that I am.

Be sceptical, oh so sceptical, of anyone who claims
to have the gift of life and life in all its fullness,
if only you will buy… this product, this lifestyle will satisfy.
Spoilers… it probably won’t.

I have no gift of life for you.
Following me won’t lead you into any fullness.
My family know I don’t have the answers.
But I do follow the one who is the fount and source of life,
the living stream.
The God who is not dead like the idols of stone and wood,
but who lives and breathes that life over me, though I do not merit it,
and have done nothing to earn it.


Some say that the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes
is a wonder… because Jesus took a small amount of food
and made it into a big amount of food.

Ta-daaaaah. Magic.


The miracle here… is that people who live in this world…
this world that always leaves us hungry for more…
that tells us that there’s always something more we can have…
more we can buy, more for which we can struggle and strive…

these people ate… and were filled.

They were filled… they were satisfied. They had enough… for their life.

It’s why we pray for our daily bread…
Lord, may I be filled… may I be satisfied… may I have enough…
for my life in this moment.


I have a disclaimer for any of you…
exploring faith… who Jesus is.

You enter this life,
your problems won’t suddenly be solved,
your sorrows won’t magically disappear.
Your body won’t suddenly be beautiful, whatever that means,
and your love life and friendships won’t burst into rapture.
Your bank account won’t fill up, and that promotion come to you at work…
your party win at the next election,
and world peace come with bread and roses…

I can’t promise any of those things.

But I can promise this.

You will find life, in all its messy fullness.
You will find truth, and it will set you free.
You will stand on a living foundation,
the God who is reality, who is all that is…
and you will learn a measure of peace.


What is truth? sneered Pilate at Jesus’ trial.
What is reality? What is life?

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters,
and you that have no money, come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good.
Incline your ear, and come to me.
Listen, so that you may live.

Lord, give us your word, give us your bread,
grant that we may find rest in the reality of your truth and your life. Amen.