10th Sunday after Trinity

8th August 2021

10th Sunday after Trinity

Year B

 

Collect

Let your merciful ears, O Lord,
be open to the prayers of your humble servants;
and that they may obtain their petitions
make them to ask such things as shall please you;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

 

1 Kings 19.4-8

Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he travelled for forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

 

Ephesians 4.25-5.2

Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

 

John 6.35,41-51

Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No-one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No-one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

 

Reflection by the Revd Sandie

 

Each week millions of Christians around the world come to church to seek nourishment. We pretty much all do it in different ways, but we are united by the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. Today, Jesus tells us quite explicitly that He is the bread of life. But what does that mean to us in our journey towards a deeper relationship with Him?

Let’s start with that word – nourishment. It’s used a lot in Christian circles. We seek nourishment from the scriptures, from the Eucharist, from prayer, and we seek to nourish others – feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, care for the broken.

We often differentiate between those two things however don’t we? We nourish ourselves with scripture, the Eucharist and prayer – but we nourish others with food, shelter and care. This isn’t deliberate. We come to church and we chose to receive the nourishment of the sacraments but do those who seek out our help only want to be nourished with earthly food?

Have we become so moulded by the secular world and its desire to see us confine our Love of Christ to our church buildings on Sundays that we cannot nourish all?

We know from Jesus that our life in Him – our relationship with him – is born of two parts.

First – ‘No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me’.   What is Jesus saying? Is He saying that our desire alone to know Him is not sufficient?

 We do not come to Jesus through our own reasoning, through our own thought-out deductions and some personal insight that we gain through years of experience and reading. We are drawn. We are invited. It is not through our religious experience, our philosophical insight or the fact that our parents brought us to church every Sunday that results in our own decision to say ‘I Believe’. It is the Father who invites us – who draws us to Him. It’s what we do at that invitation that matters.

Our faith is born through a two-way relationship with the Father and that relationship is renewed, strengthened and encouraged through the constant re-offering of the nourishment that only the Church can offer. Through the sacraments, through teaching, and through prayer.

And that brings me to the second part of our relationship with Jesus – that it can only grow and can only deepen through the Church. The Church is the body of Christ. It is the only path through which the sacraments are offered. Without this nourishment we will go hungry. We will go thirsty we will be denied the living bread.

And so, knowing this – knowing this tough reality that sits against the grain of the modern world- how does that play out in our daily lives?

What I am saying is that as a Church and as the body of Christ we cannot simply offer people bread when they need bread to fill their stomachs. But that we must offer everyone the bread of life and that those things are not separate but are the same.

We must push back against a world that tells us that our faith must be confined to our buildings. So that when we step out into the world to feed the hungry we are doing so not just in body, but also in Spirit. We are making Christ’s love known so that people may be drawn to Him and may hear his invitation. And sometimes that’s as much as we can do – be the physical and obvious presence of the Church in the secular world. And that’s okay.

I know some of you may be thinking that it is easy for clergy to be that obvious presence because wearing our dog collars marks us out as a representative of the church but trust me there are often times when the collar is more of a hindrance than a help

Being an obvious and physical presence is about how we care.  Are we the neighbours who notice others in our streets, who stop to speak even when we are in hurry? Are we the people who buy a sandwich or a drink for those living on the streets? Are we the friends who keep up the contacts with those we don’t often see? Are we the people who offer to help even when we are not sure what help we can provide?

And when we are asked why are we doing any of these things do we reply because God loves you and has asked me to show you His love? 

Through these actions we save nobody. Only God does that. But we who have been invited to eat the living bread, and to drink from the healing, life-giving stream can bear witness. We bear witness to the abundant life that we have in Christ.  Yes, there is choice to be made  but it is not ours alone. Yes we must hear the invitation, yes we must invite, others so that they may also hear – if the Father chooses – the invitation. Then, if accepted, it is our job to feed those who have turned to Him. Nourish them with the sacraments, with prayer, with love and encourage them to bring others to hear the invitation of the Father.

Prepare yourselves. Prepare to receive Christ, to be open as he once again reaches for your hearts and  then take Him in to the world and bring others to come to know him. Amen.

Post Communion Prayer

God of our pilgrimage,
you have willed that the gate of mercy
should stand open for those who trust in you:
look upon us with your favour
that we who follow the path of your will
may never wander from the way of life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above):

1 Kings 19.4-8 ©  1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton
Ephesians 4.25-5.2 ©  1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton
John 6.35,41-51 ©  1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton
Post Communion (10th after Trinity) ©  Rt Revd David S. Stancliffe
Collect (10th after Trinity) ©  The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)