Evangelectionary for Sunday, August 2, 2015

Lectionary (Year B): 2 Samuel 11:26, Psalm 51:1-12, Ephesians 4: 1-16, John 6:24-35

Theme: “Spiritual Health Food”

Call to Worship:

“One does not live by bread alone, but by every world that comes from the mouth of God.”  Matt. 4:4

Message: “Soul Food

We who live in North America are bombarded by an endless selection of diet-related materials—schemes, commercial plans, spas, television shows, and cookbooks.  Despite being reminded constantly how important it is to stay healthy by eating right, an astounding percentage of our citizenry is either overweight or obese.  As important as these things are, one thing is even more vital—the Bread of Life, “the food that endures for eternal life.” (bgl) V. 27

Quote(s):

“Jesus’ response is patient but to the point. The manna wasn’t the true bread from heaven. The bread the day before wasn’t either (obviously: it was from a boy’s lunch!). It was a sign of the true bread. That bread comes from God and gives life (zoe, not bios— “aliveness,” not mere biological function) to the world.

Now their hunger manifests. “Give us this bread always!”

Jesus answers, “I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me shall not be hungry again, and the one who believes into me shall no longer thirst” (vs. 35).

Think together and discuss in your worship planning team what people are looking for where you are. Are they looking for a quick fix, like the bread of the previous day? Are they looking for a silver bullet, like the “secret to the magic” these folks requested? Or are they looking for what Jesus actually offers — the more rigorous way of daily and lifelong discipleship to him?

Next ask yourselves this, quite honestly. What do you actually most regularly offer people through worship where you are? Are you offering a “quick fix,” the fulfillment of some immediately felt need or desire? Are you offering or claiming to offer a “silver bullet,” ten ways to a happier or more fulfilled life, “secrets” to success?

Or are you offering your own witness and the witness of others to a life of discipleship to Jesus Christ and extending the offer to others actually to “believe into” him, to follow him with their whole lives — and not backing down on the fact that that, and only that, is what you offer?

Look through your worship plans and bulletins. Recall your conversations about planning. Think about what you say and what you sing in worship. And resolve that today, in planning worship around this text, you will follow this dictum: Offer them Christ, the true bread of life.

Jesus’ response is patient but to the point. The manna wasn’t the true bread from heaven. The bread the day before wasn’t either (obviously: it was from a boy’s lunch!). It was a sign of the true bread. That bread comes from God and gives life (zoe, not bios— “aliveness,” not mere biological function) to the world.

Now their hunger manifests. “Give us this bread always!”

Jesus answers, “I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me shall not be hungry again, and the one who believes into me shall no longer thirst” (vs. 35).

Think together and discuss in your worship planning team what people are looking for where you are. Are they looking for a quick fix, like the bread of the previous day? Are they looking for a silver bullet, like the “secret to the magic” these folks requested? Or are they looking for what Jesus actually offers — the more rigorous way of daily and lifelong discipleship to him?

Next ask yourselves this, quite honestly. What do you actually most regularly offer people through worship where you are? Are you offering a “quick fix,” the fulfillment of some immediately felt need or desire? Are you offering or claiming to offer a “silver bullet,” ten ways to a happier or more fulfilled life, “secrets” to success?

Or are you offering your own witness and the witness of others to a life of discipleship to Jesus Christ and extending the offer to others actually to “believe into” him, to follow him with their whole lives — and not backing down on the fact that that, and only that, is what you offer?

Look through your worship plans and bulletins. Recall your conversations about planning. Think about what you say and what you sing in worship. And resolve that today, in planning worship around this text, you will follow this dictum: Offer them Christ, the true bread of life.”  (Thanks to Safiya Fosua, Lectionary resources for August 5, Year B, United Methodist Church Board of Discipleship, see website for additional resources, textweek.com.

“All they look for in Him is to live happily and at ease in this world.”  John Calvin

A “sagging” economy means that one of the new gadgets that we might obtain at Best Buy, or Fry’s Electronics, or some new article of clothing at Macy’s or item at Target may cost us more these days.  But life in a time of more economic challenge also means that missionaries and mission efforts here and abroad are costing more, as well.  The mission of Christ’s church local and global also depends on increased support from us these days.  What if when we “cut back” on some purchase we’d like but don’t actually need, we contribute that money to the mission of Christ?  That would go a long way in helping those on the frontier of mission at home and abroad who’ve been required to “cut back” on this critical task of Christ’s call.

Film, other visual aids:

Music: “Here I Am, Lord” words and music by Daniel L. Schutte; arr. Michael Pope and John Weissrock, 1981, New Dawn Music/OCP Publications

“Break Thou the Bread of Life,”

Opening Prayer

We come to you with needs of the inner life as well as needs of the body.

We come to you as the Fountain of Living Water, for our souls are thirsty.

We come to you as the Bread of Life, for our spirits are hungry.

Strengthen us, we pray, by the power of your Holy Spirit.

Intercessory Prayer:

We recognize you this day as One who has prepared us for a life to be celebrated, a feast to be enjoyed, and an existence to be lived with enthusiasm.

Enable us, by your grace, to pray in faith, to witness with exuberance, to sing with gusto.  Help us to enjoy the pleasures of mind and body as divine gifts to be received with gratitude and shared with joy.

Deliver us from the spirit of criticism, from the attitude of judgment, from the face of gloom.  As we mingle with others at the banquet of life, may we acknowledge that they, too, are your invited guests.

May we see worship as celebration, and may we accept with gratitude the blessings of this life as a pale foretaste of the great feast you are preparing in the banquet hall of heaven.

Benediction:

“Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render to no man evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the afflicted, honor all people; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Special thanks this week to Leroy Koopman of Liturgical Publications, Inc., for prayers, and sermon ideas.

Subscribers to Liturgical Publications are permitted to reprint material in non-profit publications only; all other reproduction is prohibited.  2012 Liturgical Publications inc, LPi Resource Center, P.O. Box 510817, 1-800-950-9952 ext 2469.

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