It happened when I was attending a meeting in Chicago, an important gathering of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church. The staff served us a delicious and abundant buffet meal.
One thing was missing; there was no bread at the serving station. For me, without the bread the meal seemed incomplete. I asked the server if we could have some bread. He said, “We do not serve bread with this meal.”
Bread sustains us. It is extraordinarily symbolic for those of us who live in the tradition of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. We remember how God gave manna to the Israelites as they traveled in the desert. God took the initiative to feed the people and provided what they needed for the journey. No one cooked the bread; it was God who gave it. In the story from John 6, the crowd who went searching for Jesus finally found him. But Jesus cautioned them not to be consumed by the food they ate but to be about finding and “digesting” the spiritual food that would lead them to eternal life. This food—this bread—Jesus said, is more important than the manna they received in the desert. This is the bread that sustains us throughout our lives. It is a gift that Christ offers himself as food for the journey of life. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
The bread that is made sacred for us at Holy Communion becomes for us the Bread of Life. As we feed on this bread, we feed on the presence of the living Christ. With confession, we are assured that we are forgiven. Every day has its challenges, but if we allow ourselves to be sustained by the Bread of Life, we are blessed all our days.
Help me, O God, to represent the Bread of Life in a brittle and hard world. Amen.
David thinks he has gotten away with his sins, but God sends Nathan to tell David a story. The story angers David, but Nathan reveals that the story is really about David’s own behavior. Indeed, it can be tempting to condemn others’ sin, while we justify our own. Psalm 51 is David’s appeal to God for forgiveness and restoration. If we want to please God in our own lives, what does this look like? Ephesians tells us that the signs of a redeemed life include humility, love, patience, and building up one another (the opposite of what David displayed). In John, Jesus has crowds following him because they want a free meal. The lasting nourishment they truly need, Jesus teaches, comes through believing that God has sent him.
Read 2 Samuel 11:26–12:13a. When has someone else helped you see that you have sinned? How did you respond to that person?
Read Psalm 51:1-12. When have you felt “unclean” before God? How did God restore you?
Read Ephesians 4:1-16. What are your gifts? How do you use them to build up the body of Christ?
Read John 6:24-35. How do you feed your soul?
Respond by posting a prayer.