Material for Worship 8th August

Rev Moira Jamieson writes: You may have noticed that over the past couple of weeks our Gospel passages have mentioned bread, the staple diet of human beings throughout the world. Today’s passage is John 6:35, 41-51. And in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 4:25-chapter 5 v2, Paul talks of sharing with the needy.

Bread is a basic commodity and is such a simple thing to make, even if you don’t normally bake. In some families, the making of bread is a tradition, passed down from generation to generation. The simple rhythm of mixing ingredients, flour, water, yeast, salt and a sprinkling of sugar, the kneading and stretching of the dough, the waiting for the dough to rise and double in size and the baking in the oven, are a ritual which throughout time has brought families together and kept them sharing stories round the kitchen table. When the ingredients are being mixed it helps keep idle hands busy. The kneading of the dough keeps hands and minds active and moving. The waiting for the dough to rise teaches patience. And the baking in the oven leaves time for reflecting and talking.

All of these attributes could be compared to a good Christian life. When we are ‘doing’ God’s work our hands are moving and not idle and our minds are engaged. As we sit and listen to each other with Christian concern, we learn patience and when we take time to sit and reflect (as I suggested last Sunday) we strengthen our faith and begin to share that faith by talking to others. If you haven’t tried making bread, maybe you would like to have a go in the coming week and donate it to a Foodbank or give it to a neighbour or friend.

It is so reassuring to read these words and know that when we turn to God he will provide all we need.

We need never go hungry and we will never be thirsty if we just believe in God and in what He can do for us.

Take a few moments now to reflect on this image and the words of Jesus and silently pray for those who as yet do not know Jesus.

Such a simple thing, like bread, which has been made for over 6,000 years features many times in passages of scripture. And so it is that Jesus offers us today, in our gospel passage, the image of bread as a way to better understand him. I’m sure his first listeners wondered, too, at how ordinary this man was, whose message they had come to hear. They probably wondered who he thought he was — this Jesus whose parents they knew so well. They wondered how one so much like them in so many ways could begin to think of joining himself to heaven when he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” No doubt they also wondered, how it was he could make such extraordinary claims about something so ordinary: claiming to be the bread which will satisfy hunger and quench thirst for all of time.

It’s how God always seems to work, of course. It’s true there are plenty of extraordinary things which happen in the presence of Jesus, but in the end, God uses fairly ordinary means to reach us. We experience this over and over again in many of Jesus’ teachings. Consider, for instance, his parables where he speaks of things like seeds and weeds and crops and vineyards and lost coins and travellers and families: all these things were very familiar to the people who first listened to what he had to say. And today, of course, he brings to mind the nearly universal image and experience of bread. We can see in this passage that God employs ordinary means to help us understand, to help us embrace and rejoice in God’s love for us and his intentions for us all: including Jesus himself, whose childhood, no doubt mirrored those of his neighbours. After all, it’s the ordinary things that we understand best. And by God’s amazing gift, it’s the ordinary things which the Holy Spirit somehow breaks through and makes new — in such extraordinary ways. Something as simple and as basic as bread is used by Jesus to show how he is the one who gives us new life when we follow him – he is the one who sustains us on our faith journey, and he is the one who teaches us and guides us.

The message coming from our passage today in John’s gospel is to open our hearts and minds to what God is offering us in his Son Jesus Christ. By reading God’s word in scripture regularly we begin to understand what God wants from us and how he wants us to live our lives. If we don’t want to hear the words, ‘You just don’t get it, do you?’ We need to open our minds to receive the Bread of Life who promises us eternal life. Hunger and thirst for Jesus, not for the things of this life, and you will be satisfied beyond your wildest dreams!

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Amen.

As you sit with your lit candle, take a moment now to think about all those who have not experienced Jesus as the’ Bread of Life,’ and pray for those who have turned away from God.

• Pray for the hungry and the homeless.

• Give thanks for all believers.

• Re-affirm your belief by saying the creed.

Keep watch dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or wait or weep this day, and give your angels charge over them. Tend the sick, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.