S (Scripture): John 6:47 Jesus responds to the Jewish opposition: “I assure you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that whoever eats from it will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
O (Observation): The Bread of Life. Living Bread. What vivid images are brought to mind. The bread is “living” insofar as it brings life to those who partake of it. Eternal life!
Jesus was surely disturbing those of the faith with this new teaching. Jesus was trying to help them see that the Law (doing what is righteous) drives one to the Gospel (salvation, forgiveness). Eating bread sustains for a time. Eating the Bread of Life lasts forever. And this is a free gift!
A (Application): So why do we – as Christians – make such a fuss over how we understand the Bread of Life to work? Why does one style of Communion distribution work better than another?
Or, why does one type of baptism “count” while others don’t? Is that not a stumbling block?
Why does one group of Christians – doing God’s work – feel it necessary to condemn another group of Christ-followers who are also doing God’s work?
Perhaps our call as Christians is to focus a bit more outward, instead of inward.
This outward focus is embedded in our vision statement at the congregation I serve: “We are called to walk closely with God, discover the gifts God has given us, and welcome and accept all people.” As that last part states, we strive to welcome and accept all people. That’s a wide range of folks, so we narrow it down to make real from time to time. Whether this be LGBTQ+ community, those with disabilities, the homeless, etc. we find ways to live out our vision in our community.
We may receive condemnation, but as long as we receive the Bread of Life, nothing stands in our way of doing God’s work here in this place.
P (Prayer): Lord, sustain us for you are the Bread of Life. Amen.