Readings for the Week of September 14

Psalm 14Jeremiah 4:11-28I Timothy 1:12-17Luke 15:1-10

Keeping It Weird, our new sermon series continues this week with an exploration of Eucharist, also known as communion and the Lord’s Supper. Some of our practices become so routine that we fail to recognize how odd they are. More importantly, we fail to appreciate how critical they are.

In John 6 Jesus uses the image of bread to speak of his incarnated life and ministry among us. According to Jesus, God has sent this “bread from heaven” to the earth in the incarnated Christ himself.

Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

John 6 then gets really weird when Jesus says on three different occasions, identifies his actual body with the bread of life. Then he calls upon us to “eat”.

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. . . .” - v. 35

“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.” - v. 51

“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. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” - vv. 53-56

Weird? Yes. Beautiful? I think. Essential? Yes. The Eucharist is one of the strangest things that Christians do. In fact, it is so strange, that there was a time, in the early centuries of Christianity, that Christ-followers were though to be cannibals, eating the flesh of their God. This misunderstanding is understandable. Join us Saturday as we explore Eucharist, the meal of thanksgiving and communion.

Here is the collect for this week:

O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Paul Hill