Being Alive

Being Alive

We are currently in a series of lectionary readings from the Gospel of John that direct our attention, again and again, to the topic of bread.  It’s making me hungry!  The reading for this week is the second in a series of three scripture readings that talks about Jesus as the bread of life.  Some of us might be asking, “Didn’t we already cover that?”  While others of us might find our curiosity piqued, wondering why the gospel writer keeps circling back to this.  I have to admit, I’ve found myself in both of these places as I’ve sat with this passage this week!

And while our reading for this week continues with the language about Jesus as the bread of life, it goes a step further and moves into language that is familiar to some of us from our Communion liturgy.  “Take.  Eat.  This is my body, broken for you.”  Those of us who are newer to Christianity might have an advantage here and be more able to perceive how shocking these words were to Jesus’ contemporaries.  Folks who gathered around Jesus, including his own disciples, balked when Jesus started talking about “eating his flesh” and “drinking his blood.”  And who can blame them?  At face value, it’s a fairly gory notion.

But in this passage Jesus says, “Unless you do this…you have no life in you.”  That’s the piece we’ll focus on in worship this Sunday.  What does Jesus mean when he says this?  Is Jesus talking about physical life?  Eternal life?  Or is there something else?  How do we reject or receive this “life” that Jesus offers?  Join us on Sunday, in person or via the livestream, to explore the life that Jesus offers and intends for us.  

We have returned to in person worship in the sanctuary.  In order to make beautiful music AND maximize safety, some of our music continues to be pre-recorded by the choir as they sing outdoors on Tuesdays.  We have other COVID guidelines in place, including wearing of masks indoors and physical distancing.  Guidelines will be updated as needed and printed in the weekly bulletin.  We had difficulty with the livestream last week and we are grateful for your patience as we get the kinks worked out to enable all to worship, whether that’s in person or from home.  We hope that the livestream will be more accessible this week and we appreciate your feedback about what is working well and what needs to be improved!    

May the Holy Spirit continue to guide us in these unusual times and may we be instruments of God’s peace, justice and mercy in our own unique and beautiful ways.  Be well, care for one another and see you in church on Sunday! 

Pastor Lori

John 6:51-58 (NRSV)

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.”

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

Questions for Reflection:

  1. How would you describe the difference between “physical life” and “spiritual life” or the life that Jesus offers?
  2. What do the different Communion elements, bread and juice, mean to you?  
  3. Have you experienced a time/period in your life when you held Jesus/the gospel at a distance?  
  4. How/where have you found “new life” (the type that Jesus offers) in your own experience and story? 

One Comment

    David DeBus

    How would you describe the difference between “physical life” and “spiritual life” or the life that Jesus offers?

    Sarx and Pneuma, Paul has it. Flesh and spirit. But “spirit” in Latin means “he/she/it breathes” as well. And “Pneuma” refers also to breath. Ruach Adonai in Hebrew means both “the spirit of the Lord” and “the breath of the Lord.” [Not to mention the other languages in which “spirit” and “breath” are combined or co-real–like “prana” in Sanskrit, “baraka” in Arabic, “Chi” in Chinese and “ki” in Japanese.] Although Matthew has the tendency to “spiritualize” basic needs like bread, I think it is a distinction without a difference. Isn’t God’s presence in everything?
    I have a long-held mistrust of the historical reality of John’s gospel (perhaps reading The Jesus Seminar too much} in which Jesus has rhetoric attributed to him entirely out of step with the synoptics–like “I am the truth and the light,” “I am the way and the light,” “I am the bread of life (or) heaven.” Eimi in Greek–I am. But in Matthew, “You are the light of the world…” He proclaims heaven and who belongs to heaven much more than he proclaims himself–witness the beatitudes.

    I would proclaim that God’s presence is the bread. And it is in the bread. And our special attention to God’s presence there brings us into heightened knowing that Jesus knew we needed.

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