Grace and Peace to you
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Remind us that this bread and wine are gifts from you
Transforming us within those places
that we cannot physically reach
But only through your Word and through Your Son, Jesus Christ
We are healed, to heal others
In this life
It’s not just the title of my sermon but
Something so simple
It immerses us into this mystery
Where we are bonded to the Creator
Who always showers us with expressions of love and care
Through gifts offered up by Creation itself
Bread is a staple
A precious commodity
(that we find it in farmer’s markets sold by nuns and religious orders and the Amish usually next to the cheese vendor which even prompts us to buy more bread; that it is so common but more often than not is pushed into an artisanal spotlight beyond the old boring white and wheat variety of our youth, when making a PBJ brought a song to our hearts; that we now argue about which brand is healthier for us to consume and that it won’t put any more additional weight/carbs to our diet but how nothing smells better than freshly baked bread and share how I drive my husband crazy because I am the one in grocery stores seeing if the bread has been recently baked and if it’s still warm. That I probably have driven the worship folks nuts this morning because I brought in bread again, surprise!)
So unpretentious and yet so scarce
That the sight of bread brings comfort
To those who are starving
For just more than food
I’d like to share a story
That one of my colleagues has shared
On this entire subject of bread
That unfolded during WWII
During the bombing raids of WWII, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care.
But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them.
Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace.
All through the night the bread reminded them, “Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.”
None of us can look at bread the same way again, right?
Our Gospel text these past couple of weeks
Focuses Jesus Himself,
giving of Himself to thousands of people
Feeding 5,000 people;
Feeding those who heard His Voice,
Who questioned who He was,
Whose faith maybe perhaps in those early days not even formed
Who struggled to believed
Who recoiled at eating flesh-
I’ve had friends of mine joke that Christians are nothing more
Than sacred zombies
But consuming the wrong things into oneself,
Throws our very being into turmoil
And we find ourselves nothing more
than hollowed out and rotten
Jesus sounds like a broken record
But we as children of God
Constantly have to be reminded
“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.”
So when it comes to sharing the bread and wine,
the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ
What does this Eucharist mean for us as people of faith?
Is it something that we have to remind ourselves we have to take
Just like our medications and our vitamins
Otherwise something horrible will happen
Or we will be inconvenienced?
We receive the bread into our hands and consume it
Sometimes complaining about the taste, right?
Are we drawn to the Table because we are broken
That we are starving for the grace and mercy
That only comes from God?
Do we receive the bread and wine
the body and blood of Jesus Christ
And then return to our seats
Thinking “Okay I am covered for another week”
“I can check that off of my to do list for today”
And then go out into the wider world
And see those who are ravenous
Those who are sometimes beyond help
Those who are struggling to crawl out of the ditches
Those who are misunderstood
And pass them by?
What does the Eucharist mean to us then, anyway?
Luther states in the Large Catechism
“Therefore it is given for a daily pasture and sustenance,
that faith may refresh and strengthen itself
so as not to fall back in such a battle,
but become ever stronger and stronger.”
Stronger and stronger for what purpose?
What was their focus as they heard Jesus’s words
In our Gospel text this morning?
“Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life
and I will raise them up on the last day”
Is our focus hearing these words
Me. I must survive
Because this world already deprives us of the essentials for living
We are frantic in that we need to be ready, filled up
So that we can staved off the evil that seems to overcome us
In this world
But what about seeing the Eucharist
for transforming who we are
as people of faith?
Wouldn’t you want to consume something
That restores ourselves
But also renews our lives
That has the power to alter those deep recesses
Within who we are
that prevents us from going out,
living out the Call
that the Creator God has planted within every one of us
Would you see the Bread differently if it called you to
“Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it.”
When we come to this Table-
What are we expecting?
What are we hoping?
What are we longing for?
Do we come one by one?
Or do we come surrounding this Table
Knowing that we come as a beloved community of Faith
Sharing together this sacred moment
Of Forgiveness and transformation?
“Just as the living Father sent me,
and I live because of the Father,
so whoever eats me will live because of me”
DO WE UNDERSTAND that this GIFT is NEVER for us
As human beings
To DENY ANYONE?
I may sound like a broken record but this is the
Bread and Wine
The Body and Blood
Of JESUS CHRIST
The Forgiveness of our SINS
And the Restoration of our LIVES
Because GOD LOVES US?
Isn’t that the Good News, beloved?
What does this Meal Hold for you?
(ask the congregation to share briefly about what Eucharist means for them, and then close by saying, Thanks Be to God).