2018-08-12/Pentecost 12-B/Community Lutheran/Pr. Joe Vought
Ephesians 4:25-5:2 John 6:35, 41-51
“I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never be hungry and will never thirst.” Jesus’ words and actions proclaim God’s love for everyone. Last week we spoke of how our Communion with Jesus leads us to share in ever widening circles. You hear it in our prayers: sharing our church with MarThoma Church, ministering to Loudoun Veterans, sponsoring students in Rwanda, supporting families through our PreSchool. Last week we provided a Health Clinic with ADAMS Center gave care to 40 people without healthcare. Pr. Edward Makara visited to thank us for supporting his education and life-saving surgery so he can minister to refugees on the border of Rwanda. When we share Communion, we say: “We don’t celebrate the Lutheran Supper, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.” “Welcome Others, Growing in Grace, Sharing Christ’s Love, we are a church that impacts people’s lives for the sake of the Gospel.” (Bulletin)
We know God created the world and gives food to every living thing. Some people would have us believe resources are limited and we have to compete and fight for what we have. But when we believe the Good News and receive the Bread of Life and our daily bread with thanksgiving, we start living and sharing like Jesus because we know God gives abundance.
How do we know these things? When we hear Jesus say, “He is the bread of life” we remember Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Even as we must think about what to eat several times a day, how might we be more mindful not only thanking God but for all the others: farmers, pickers, day laborers, fruit growers, grocers, restaurant waiters, servants, cooks whom God uses to provide for us. We do not feed ourselves because we are connected to a whole world, the food chain and web of life. In our Gospel the Jews and those around Jesus begin to complain when Jesus says, “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never be hungry and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” “Is not this Jesus, son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he say, I have come down from heaven.’” When I took the train from Chicago to Normal Illinois to visit my sister, I marveled again at the miracle as the rains came down on the fields the plants came up. In the words of the Psalm “So our God, sends rain to soak the earth, giving seed to the sower and bread for the eater.” We can no more exist independently than a tree grow without water and soil. God gives us the bread and food we consume. How can we be mindful of God and all good gifts?
It has been said we can chew on Scripture. In the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, there is a prayer, “Holy Wisdom, help us to listen that we may hear, ponder and inwardly digest your Word.” People listened to Jesus and so we preach. It happens in Bible Study as we read, talk, chew on it together and what a rich banquet it is. This is why we have Sunday Bible Study, Christian Ed and Wednesday study groups. We pray more will join us. When we talk about our faith we feed our faith so it becomes a part of our lives.
Bread and food stand for all those things we believe and take into our lives, beliefs and values which inform our habits and give shape to our daily lives. In the 1980s movie “Witness” a Philadelphia policeman is being chased by murderers. He hides among the Amish in Lancaster County. When an Amish boy wants to touch and see the policeman’s gun, the wise grandfather says. “This gun is for the taking of life. People say to us you must fight, but there is never one way. Don’t you see that what you take into your hand you take into your heart?” What are we taking into our bodies and souls?
St. Paul says in Ephesians, “let us speak truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another…put away from you all bitterness, wrath and anger, wrangling and slander, be kind to one another, tenderhearted and forgiving…” How is God calling us to get over ourselves, to live more like Jesus? So we come to hear the Word of the Lord in the prayerful hope that we will become more like Jesus. Lord to whom shall we go, you have the Words of eternal life. And even if we are stubborn, slow of heart to believe, we know the truth: We are what we eat. Lord Jesus you are the Bread of Heaven and the Cup of Salvation. Thanks be to God. Amen.