Monday, August 3, 2015

The Bread Provider – 9 August 2015 – Lectionary 19/ Proper 14

Although many themes echo in today's lessons . . . one theme stands out as uniting all of the lessons—the Lord provides. From manna and a meal from an angel to the Bread of life and living in Christ's love, the Lord provides. – Jeffrey Galbraith

John 6:35, 41-51

In today's Gospel reading, the crowd is grumbling. The original word used in John's gospel for “complain” in verse 41 was meant to be the same as the Hebrew word in Exodus for the grumbling of the Israelites. Jesus encounters a grumbling crowd that doesn't understand his words, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” But he perseveres: “Do not [grumble] among yourselves.” Then follows the “bread of life” discourse, the living bread from heaven, the new manna.

[T]he common thread . . . [in] these readings bids us to respond to something troubling—betrayal, despair, bitterness, slander, confusion, grumbling—with patience, mercy, hope, kindness, and trust. – Stephen Crippen

In verses 43–50 Jesus again explains that he is the bread of life and the only way to the Father, for he is from God and sent by God. John's realized eschatology is clear from verse 47 in that life/salvation is not something for later but now—“whoever believes has eternal life.” Verse 51 is a clear reference to the Eucharist and the eating of the bread. . . .

Life/salvation is bestowed in a sacramental act, not in simply recognizing Jesus as the one who reveals the Father. – Jeffrey Galbraith

When we eat the bread we enjoy the fullest experience of the indwelling God that we have ever known. Living Bread is what allows us to choose a different path in the world, to be living witnesses and move closer to God and help those who come in contact with us to move closer as well. – Mary Katharine Deeley

This food that gives life is the subject of Elijah’s miraculous meal as a fugitive. Perhaps setting Elijah’s witness beside that of Jesus is meant to help us to see that we are all fugitives, running from what is dangerous and fear-inducing and therefore called by the Bread of Life to feast. Like Elijah, we are fed and emboldened to continue our journey.

1 Kings 19:4-8

Elijah's recent confrontation with and triumph over the priests of Baal whom he killed (18:20–40) provided the context for this flight into the wilderness. The patron of the slain priests, Jezebel, is now out for revenge. . . . Elijah, pictured as a second Moses (although here he wants to “run from Yahweh”), is a pivotal figure in the “theological” summary of Israel's history. Both clearly marked off what had gone before from what followed. . . . In the case of Elijah it was the wide spread worship of Baal from a return to Yahweh. – Jeffrey Galbraith

Ephesians 4:25–5:2

The church, like each of us individually, is confronted with hunger for what can relieve us from doubt, fear, oblivion, and simple failure. The epistle's words to the church give us a task that also feeds the body of Christ with good nutrition.

Paul's “rules for a new life” bring us face to face with the demands for anyone who claims to be a Christian. . . . “Speak the truth; don't go to sleep angry; do honest work,” and. . . the many others serve as a reminder of our struggle to live a fully Christian life. . . – Mary Katharine Deeley

In this 2006 issue of Homily Service, Cheryl Magini offered a perspective from Larry Rasmussen on the response Jesus calls for in the face of suffering. Jesus calls us to the meal – the intimate link between liturgy and justice, sacramental practice and relief for the weary: 

“One does not need to be a keen student of society to realize that table fellowship is itself is a reliable map of economic well-being and discrimination, political order and differentiation, and social hierarchy and caste. Table governance shapes communities. The practice is distilled in how we take, bless, break, and give bread to one another.” –Practicing our Faith, Dorothy Bass, ed. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998), 130.

Jeffrey Galbraith is pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Greenfield, MA, and a professor of business administration at Greenfield Community College.

Stephen Crippen is a psychotherapist and a deacon in the episcopal Diocese of Olympia, Washington.

Mary Katharine Deeley is the director of Christ the Teacher Institute of the Sheil Catholic Center, the Roman Catholic campus ministry at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. She is the author of many books, a frequent speaker on diverse topics, and a pastoral advisor.

Rev. Cheryl Magrini, PhD, is a United Methodist minister in Chicago, chair of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), and a speaker, writer, and advocate on behalf of those living with bipolar disorder.

Homily Service 39, no. 9 (2006): 17-26.

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