I AM... you are!
Heavenly Father, we come to you as your disciples, eager to be taught. May we hear from your divine Word your will for your church – in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Amen
What a bounty of material from our scriptures today
There is an incredible abundance of potential which could be preached on
I believe that this morning I would like to take, not a detailed discovery into a single verse from one of our readings, or a single passage
But a survey of all the readings… as they present a summary of God’s relational with us
Beginning first with 2 Samuel and the framework of ‘salvation by one’ initiated by our repentance and confession
Then moving to look at both the Gospel and the New Testament readings from a wide angle lens
I know that I run the risk of trying to cover too much ground
But I want to draw attention to the big picture of the readings today and our response in sacrament and calling
We begin with the story of David and Bathsheba… and all that has to offer
We can see from this account that God is present with David – He was politically powerful… the king – yet in the spring, when kings went out to war…David stayed home and got into trouble
We had the reading of the Ten Commandments this morning - and one could argue that David broke every one of them
Certainly his decisions made him an adulterer, liar, and murderer.
His decisions may have been above ‘the law of the land’ – after all he made the law of the land, as king
But they weren’t hidden from God and they weren’t above God’s law
We can see the power of Nathan’s story – a simple metaphor that is clear to all of us
But David doesn’t see it coming
He doesn’t … and we don’t
We don’t see the power of our sins when we are in the midst of them…
We may have a strong emotional reaction and objection to the notion that an innocent child should be the one to bear the burden of God's wrath in place of David
Yet how often do we have a strong emotional reaction and objection for the only Son of God that bears the burden for all our sins
We like David, don’t see the power of our sins when we are in the midst of them
In 2010, auto manufacturers recalled a staggering 20 million cars in the US for various defects.
The thought of such a large number of defective cars on the road is startling enough.
But what is more disturbing is the apathy of some owners.
In one instance, the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety warned owners, “It’s a free repair. Get it done. It may save your life.”
Yet, despite the risk to their own lives, 30 percent never responded.
Likewise, consider our society; many ignore God’s “recall notice” to the entire human race
Many are too busy with everyday life for the “Free repair – that will save their lives”
Our Gospel message today is part of a larger section known as “bread of life discourse” - a continuation of last week and will be continued further for the next couple of weeks
It is so important that several weeks are devoted to the 6th chapter of John with the declaration by Jesus that “I am the Bread of Life” (John 6:35)
One of the six great “I am…” statements found in John’s Gospel
It is particularly poignant today, with this our monthly corporate communion Sunday
Bread. It's basic, probably the most basic life-giving substance in the world.
Grocery stores think of it as one of the ‘staples’ and put it at the back of the store, and know that we will go back there to get it and in doing so that we walk pass the other items
It's as common as water. Both are a must for life.
For the Christian person of faith, bread takes on a double meaning.
Bread is for the body, and the breaking of bread is for the spirit.
Only when the Emmaus travelers broke bread with Jesus did they recognize him
Today the breaking of bread is a symbol of ‘giving’ for Christians.
Giving is the bread of life.
The bread that filled the ancient Hebrews of 2000 years ago now becomes the primary extended metaphor Jesus uses to stretch their understanding… and ours
John's language although narrative, is rich in poetry of images
This conversation about food, manna, and bread provides an interesting parallel to the enigmatic, multi-level conversation about water with the woman at the well
· Both include references to "ancestors" -- Moses (6:32) and Jacob (4:12)
· Both include the identical "command" to Jesus: "Lord/Sir give" (6:34, 4:15)
· Both share the desire for a permanent supply of bread/water (6:35, 4:14)
Just as the conversation with the woman at the well - was about water, but was not,
This conversation is about bread, but is not.
Similar to last week, where the miracles, the signs and wonders, are important in themselves, certainly for those that were healed – yet they are most important in what they reveal about Jesus the Christ
Confusion seems to abound in this passage. Except that in John’s Gospel, the mystical gospel, confusion is as much a literary device as is symbolism.
Each point of confusion, offers Jesus a chance to redirect His audience to what is more important.
First, the crowds want to know how He and the disciples got around the shore.
Jesus suggests that they just wanting to eat again when they should be working for imperishable food.
The implication being that the spiritual reality of what happened is more important than the earthly one.
The next confusion is that they want to know what kind of work they should be doing that would be pleasing to God and, presumably, grant imperishable food.
Jesus answers that the only work that matters is believing in the one God sent.
The implication is asking - do you believe Jesus is the One who reveals God uniquely and fully?
The third confusion has the people asking for a sign like Moses did by providing the ancient Israelites with manna (which is kind of interesting, since Jesus has just fed 5000 of them!).
Jesus responds that it wasn't Moses who provided manna… but God.
The implication is - you do not need and should not look for an intermediary, as God will provide bread from heaven for God's people directly.
Finally, the people ask for, even demand, this bread,
And Jesus responds that He is the bread.
The climatic implication is that Jesus reveals God's character and provides direct access to relationship with God,
Something formerly mediated by covenant, law, or leader
But now is directly accessible through Him.
For the ancient Hebrews that didn’t believe – this is the most blasphemous statement imaginable
For those with eyes to see and ears to hear the truth beyond all truth – this is the best news possible
Throughout, this scene provides something of a halting but progressive disclosure that in Jesus, God is revealing God's own self most clearly and fully
So that all people will have access to God, so that all people can become "children of God" (1:12).
It is written that they “went to Capernaum LOOKING for Jesus”(John 6:24) – and Jesus is the Bread of Life
They had questions that asked “what” … and Jesus saw their heart’s desire and turned the questions to be “who”
Jesus understood the confusion of blurring of the physical needs and spiritual needs
The people came looking for the “works” of God – Jesus provided the ‘work’ of God
So first we had a story which delves into sin – and road to healing grace of God comes first from acknowledging sin and asking for forgiveness
Next we have God’s abundant answer for all that seek the Lord – Jesus is the bread of life
Our wide angle lens view progressed to the third and final broad view
It is the vision that come from the reading from letter to the Ephesians
The focus of the passage is provided in the beginning – it is the understanding of living up to our callings – callings of God… for each and every one of us
Callings that place our vocations into fullness – into unity of purpose
We are the Body of Christ – we together, in unity, are the church
When the photo directory committee two years ago was presented with the great opportunity of selecting an item for the church – we easily decide on this… (hold up the picture)
It normally hangs in the Narthex and when people first arrive for church on Sunday morning, they are greeted with a picture that taken in its wholeness is a picture of Christ
And viewed up close, one can see that it is composed of hundreds of pictures of us, the church – We are the body of Christ
That body in unity is called to a way of being and St. Paul’s shares a beautiful list of the attributes or the characteristics of our bond in unity with the Spirit:
· in humility
· and gentleness,
· with patience,
· bearing with one another in love,
· making every effort
Our unity is in Christ and St Paul tells us:
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Eph 4:4-6a)
It is the inspiration for many hymns and is a main message for each baptismal service
The body of Christ is no mere philosophical contrast – The body of Christ is for a purpose
The body of Christ – the Church… is not the building or any institution, but the people of God
The message of how we… all of us… together, make up the body in the many gifts we bring in service to our Lord
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Eph 4:11-12)
When we look at this list we are not to think of it as an exhaustive list, but with the understanding that God’s church is manifested through-out
Each role is of the Church and for the Church
But just as God speaks to us through the Scriptures – God also speaks to us in our daily lives
In our conversations, in the beauty of creation and in what we experience or are drawn to in the midst of those situations
We should not limit Christ's presence and power to places we typically regard as holy or sacred
As Paul's own situation reminds us, the power of Christ can never be constrained by a physical or social location.
We might think divinity goes hand in hand with wealth, splendor, influence and comfort.
But almost everything in the gospels subverts this understanding.
God shows up in a manger and not a palace.
The first to hear about the incarnation are not statesmen but shepherds.
Jesus is regularly accused of hanging out with sinners and then, like Paul, becomes a prisoner of the state on the way to a shameful death.
And the first witnesses of the resurrection are women, deemed by their culture to be unreliable gossips.
Just as God is active in every nook and cranny of creation so God uses his people to make sure people are fed, clothed, comforted, educated, protected, etc.
Consider your own role in God’s economy - It is often not a calling that can be pared down to
a job or a single occupation.
If it was then that would mean wide stretches of human experience would be outside of God's providence.
God calls us not only to work but to friendship, family life, citizenship, etc.
Together we are the Church – for the Church
We are the hands and feet and hearts … in service for the Lord
Called in unity – into the one body – gifts of God manifested throughout – for the building up of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12b)
This is big picture for today our Communion Sunday
· God is present – we don’t see and fall into sin
· God is present and inspires others to help us see – we ask and are granted forgiveness
· God is present and teaches us His will and His ways – we are confused and ask for the wrong things
· God presents Himself as the Bread of Life – and promises everlasting reconciliation
· God is present – gifts dispersed in many – gathered in unity as one body
o We respond to the calling – in unity – as the Body of Christ for the Body of Christ
Jesus said I AM… and through His Word said: you are… my body …
Go – be the body and build up the body of Christ
Thanks be to God - Amen
 Illustrated Sourcebook, Series III # 2994 - BREAD, GIVING