Sunday Worship 1st August

Opening words: I am the bread of life, he who comes to me will never be hungry


Hymn 261 I am the bread of life

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzCg1FqLvUM


Prayers

Lord God, giver of life, you bless us with all we need – and with so much more. Keep us from being so focused on physical needs that we neglect our spiritual food. Feed us with your word, satisfy us with your presence, and strengthen us by your Spirit – that we may share your eternal life. Amen.

O God, giver of manna from heaven, you provided for Moses’ followers in the desert. O Christ, bread of life, you fed the five thousand with five loaves and two fish. O Holy Spirit of the living God, here with us as we come together today, we ask you to feed us with all that we need, and that, thus fed, we might be satisfied. Amen.

Lords Prayer


Hymn 590 Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFxZeY2D5tc


Bible Readings

Exodus 16.2-4,9-15 Psalm 78.23-29 Ephesians 4.1-16 John 6.24-35


Hymn 857 I the Lord of sea and sky

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zr9SMm1glI


Comment

Two weeks ago when I did the service, we looked at a passage which was sandwiched between two other passages, it was a passage about finding the stillness even though everyone around you is rushing around and demanding things from you. We read that when the disciples crossed over to the other side of the lake people were waiting for them to be fed, healed. have miracles performed.

But this passage, the passage we're going to look at today focuses a little bit more on the teaching of Jesus specifically relating to the feeding of the 5000. It is the bread that we need to talk about today, it was the bread that was the source of a heated debate amongst Jesus, his disciples, and the Pharisees.


What the crowds have come for?

The crowds have come to seek yet more food, they are not necessarily interested in Jesus as a person or even in what He's saying but if He's going to feed them with food then they will be there. During lockdown as you are aware we have been running Blaby Elves, and in this role many individuals have come forward to myself asking for vouchers to feed their families, I have been given several stories of why they need the vouchers, I am soft, and if you tell me a good story then I'll give you vouchers. But one lady contacted us while we were on holiday, someone else from Blaby Elves contacted her and said I was away, and I would phone her when I got back. However, she kept on phoning, when I did return her call, she explained that she used a food bank in Aylestone on a fortnightly basis, but recently hadn't been able to get there and felt she was missing out, so when she saw a poster for Blaby Elves she didn't want to miss out. This lady will get no more vouchers from Blaby Elves, we give where there is real need, we don't give because someone thinks they're missing out! The people who followed Jesus over the lake thought they were missing out on the free gifts that He was giving them. They were following Jesus for the wrong reasons.


Who Jesus Is

Jesus who knows the innermost thoughts of our hearts knew exactly why they were there, some for freebies, some to catch him out, and some for very genuine reasons, to see who He was. So, Jesus talks about bread. This is not the first time He has done this, He first talked about bread in the temptations, when He said that ‘people don’t live on bread alone but by the word of God’. This shines light on this dialogue in John’s Gospel for Jesus states ‘you should not be concerned about that which is perishable but that which is unperishable. You should be more concerned about the word of God which feeds your spiritual being than food that feeds you physically. As you can imagine this posed all sorts of questions from the crowd.


Bible Readings about bread.

In the Bible, specifically in the Old Testament, God’s provision for God’s people is a key reason for faith: God promises to supply our need and calls us to trust him. In the passage in Exodus, and in the Psalm, this link is to there. For the psalmist, it is the reason to sing God’s praises. In exodus we see God sending manna from heaven in response to the grumbling from the people wandering in the wilderness and Jesus speaks about this too. Jesus shows how the Exodus story points to him, and that faith in God is now channelled through faith in the Son (Himself) whom the Father has sent. Jesus states ‘what Moses gave you was not the bread from heaven, it is my Father who gives you the real bread from heaven. For the bread that God give is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world’


What do we need (and who gives us that) and how do we give?

Jesus seems to suggest that it’s easy – just ask and we will be provided with everything we need. But what do we need? More than bread – although, for the starving, bread is very important. What are we to offer? Are the ‘good works’ of the church unconditional? Do we ‘share bread’ with too much or too little spiritual engagement? A university study on food provision by faith groups found that the work of food bank volunteers was seen as ‘true Christianity in operation’; that cooking and eating together was about much more than food; and that even the gift of simple refreshments could give a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven. There is more to feeding the hungry than giving bread – but what might be a good place to start?


Feeding the hungry and eating together or a good place to start, but the food that Jesus gives is spiritual food, so we might feed physically but how do we feed spiritually. Having a cup of tea, having a meal, having a chat, these are some of the ways that we can get to know people and in getting to know people as Anne said last week we can share our stories of Jesus, this is the bread that we need to offer. For this is the bread Jesus offered. For Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.


Jesus gives us everything we need. So, we see that when we ask God will give, but we also saw in exodus and comments from the psalmist that God demands from us our obedience. In the wilderness the people were told just to pick sufficient for the day, those that did were rewarded with enough. Those who picked too much to save for the next day, found that what they had left all went rotten and could not be eaten. God never asks of us that which we can’t do, one rule, don’t eat from the tree in the middle of the Garden, one rule, only pick what you need for the day. This relies on us being both obedient and faithful to Him. In the Lord’s Prayer we have the line ‘give us today our daily bread’ we are meant to turn to God every day for Him to supply our needs for that day only. In Matthews gospel Jesus tell us not to worry about tomorrow for that will bring worries of its own. One day at a time.


When the crowds asked Jesus for a miraculous sign in our passage today, he gave them a similar answer, that in response they are to believe in him, the bread from heaven. That was an answer that raised even more questions!

It is good to ask challenging questions as we try to understand what God’s work for us may be. God can deal with our complaints against Him, and He hears our questions. My bible reading notes at the moment are from Job and there was a man who complained to God about his lot (rightly so) But perhaps, as is always the case with Jesus’ teaching, we will never get a straight answer, to make sure that we are stretched by working it out for ourselves.

Our natural instinct is that, before we are willing to do the work God wants, we need to ask more questions. But perhaps God needs us to just make the first move, to step forward, not knowing where we are going but trusting Him to guide our next step, to know where our next meal will come from.


The living bread of which Jesus speaks is a gift that will do much more than just feed our bodies for the day. It will sustain us for life, in all its challenges and interactions. Just as a shared meal includes conversation, laughter, relationships and intimacy, so the sharing of our lives with others can meet many needs.


During lockdown, a keen west-country gardener wanted to help those who could only get out for their daily walk. She operated a bring-and-buy stall at the roadside outside her house, encouraging many to take healthy exercise in their own gardens while raising thousands for local cancer charities. The socially distanced conversations about plants also fed the souls of the lonely. There is more to being fed than eating bread, as Jesus said, we need to feed the spirit too and He is the food for our souls.

So in summary we need Jesus to fill us with that living bread that will fill us for all times, we need to give that living bread to others, by literally sharing bread or meals with them and then by living in a way which shows God is like and being able to share our experiences of God with others.

Amen


Hymn 708 To God be the glory

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vbGFupxwu0


Prayers

Lord, we come to you, the Great Provider, with all our cares and our needs, trusting that you will provide for us. So often we tell you what we want rather than asking for what we really need. Teach us to listen to your voice so that our wills join with yours and so that our asking becomes harmonious with what you want for us. As we lay our petitions before you, remind us that what you give us is what we truly need even if we don’t always recognise it.

Jesus, bread of life, help us to trust in your provision for us.

We commend our athletes to you, Lord, as they compete in the Olympic Games. We thank you for the joy that sport brings to so many, whether watching or participating. We pray that all the athletes will be able to bring their best to their competitions. We pray for the witness of those who are Christians, that their love for you will have an impact for good on those around them.

Jesus, bread of life, help us to trust in your provision for us.

Lord, we bring our land to you today. Every day we hear of the further spread of Covid-19, even if numbers infected are going down, and we begin to wonder if there will ever be an end to the pandemic. Even though in the UK the restrictions have lifted, for so many the anxieties and isolation remain. Give us the insight this week to see who needs our help: whether it’s doing their shopping, giving them a call or something else. Give us the courage to step out of our comfort zones to serve others in our communities. Keep us from despondency and help us look for positives each day.

Jesus, bread of life, help us to trust in your provision for us.

Lord, we have heard harrowing tales of historic abuse in our land this week. We pray for all those who have suffered and still live with the consequences. We pray that they will be able to find peace of mind and healing of deep hurts with you. And we pray for their abusers, that they will come to a place of repentance and know your forgiveness.

Jesus, bread of life, help us to trust in your provision for us.

We pray for our school children during this summer holiday season. We ask your peace for those awaiting exam results. We pray for those saddened by not being able to say a proper goodbye as they left school. We pray that families will have opportunities to have rest and relaxation and recharge their batteries in the sunshine. We pray for safety for all those on holiday and for your comfort for the families of those who have lost their lives in the recent heatwave. Lord, we particularly bring to you those children for whom the long summer holidays means going hungry and maybe living in fear of someone at home.We ask that you will provide nourishment and safe spaces for them.

Jesus, bread of life, help us to trust in your provision for us.

We thank you, Lord, for this church community and the nourishment we find by spending time here with you. Fill us with your Spirit as we praise you so that we may go out from here enriched and ready to serve you in the wider world. Help us to encourage one another and build each other up, that this may be a place of affirmation, acceptance and love. We pray for our leaders, both locally and nationally, asking that you will provide them with wisdom, patience and grace.

Jesus, bread of life, help us to trust in your provision for us.