JOHN 6:35, 41-51
Jesus said to [the crowd,] “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (NRSV)
Grace to you and peace from God our creator, from Jesus Christ, our redeemer and friend and from the Holy Spirit, our sustainer and guide.
Jesus said he was the living bread that came down from heaven, the living manna. Believing in him will bring eternal life, well… The Hebrew word for meditate is literally ‘to chew on.’ We have that imagery in English. If someone said, “I am going to have to chew on that for a while.” you would not likely think they were talking about a piece of gum. You would understand they were talking about pondering something they didn’t really understand; say a problem never before encountered, an idea new to them or a point of view never before considered. So when Jesus said, I am the living manna, the people would associate manna with surviving in the desert, so figuratively, “eating him,” chewing on His Word, will get you through the desert of this life into the promised land of the next.
But it isn’t just about what happens after we die. The fact is, we often come to desert places in our lives; times when we don’t think we have enough resources; when we are stretched too thin, when all we can see are roadblocks. Jesus is the manna that will nourish us through those hard times. His word is what will see us through to the promised land of relief and the better times ahead.
I am going to tell you, believing in Jesus and chewing on his words will get you through the desert of this interim time into the promised land of the pastor to come. The more you digest the teaching of Jesus, the better off you will be. You will not lose the momentum in your ministry and mission. You will maintain your liveliness and your energy for the work of life together will be maintained. Your love for God and for each other will remain strong. The Holy Spirit has been active here and remains in this place.
The Spirit will move us as we make ourselves available. It is the same for congregations and it is for individuals. When we eat of this bread, this living bread, we are revived and restored and empowered to love our neighbor, to forgive those who have hurt us, to ask for forgiveness when we realize we have fallen short of God’s ideal for us and hurt someone else. That is the stuff that keeps us alive and makes people outside of our congregation stand up and take notice. They will know something special is going on here.
Now, I am going to keep this short because the real sermon today happens after the service. I hope you can all stay. You see, after we sing the last hymn, and have a few announcements, we are going to move the chairs around, bring out some tables, and I am going to lead you through a process the Transition Team has planned for you. It will lead you into conversation that will help us see where the Spirit is moving. There will be lively conversation. There will be some reflection and some introspection sprinkled in. There will be laughter and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a tear or two, because tears are often in the presence of love and the Holy Spirit.
So I hope you can stay for this today, but if you cannot… if you have other stuff to do, that is OK, because there is a second chance on Thursday evening at 7pm. It will be exactly the same program. We’ll be asking exactly the same questions. We want everyone involved. Everyone’s voice matters, whether you are 12 or 21 or 91 and everyone in between. Everyone who is part of this congregation will be part of shaping its future, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Let’s make the future that grows from the power of God through Jesus, the bread of heaven.
Holy God, come into our hearts and increase our faith. Inspire us in serving your people and being the church for the good of the world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Blessings to you,
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.