October 9, 2018
“Bread of Life” – Sermon for October 7, 2018
Our New Testament reading this morning is drawn from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews. The book of Hebrews is a General Apostolic Letter.
It was written mainly to the Hebrew believers.
The author is anonymous, although either Paul or Barnabas are most often accepted as the author.
It was written approximately 67 A.D.
Its purpose was to present the Lord Jesus Christ as perfect and superior in comparison to anything Judaism and the old covenant had to offer.
The author was writing to a group of Christians who were under intense persecution and some were contemplating a return to Judaism.
He admonished them not to turn away from their only hope of salvation as he quotes the psalm we recited earlier.
Hear now a reading from the letter to the Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12.
Here ends the reading of God’s holy word. May God add to our hearing and understanding, God’s blessing. Amen.
Please pray with me.
Sovereign God, you make us for each other, to live in loving community as friends, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, wives and husbands, partners and companions.
Teach us to choose love when it is committed and devoted;
teach us like little children to wonder and to trust, that our loving may reflect the image of Christ.
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.
We are connected to one another.
Every time we take a breath, we breathe the same air as the people around us.
We live together under the same moon and the same stars.
The sun warms us all indiscriminately.
We were each created in the image of a loving God.
Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,
for out of Man this one was taken.”
We are a part of each other.
Why then do we destroy each other?
Why do we choose violence, whether interpersonal or international, rather than compassion and peace?
What does God think of us as our Creator?
Does God look upon us as troubled children, selfish adults, or misguided creatures?
I wonder if God remains hopeful that this beautiful creation will somehow right itself and begin to care for one another and the earth upon which we live.
I believe that we have the ability to transform our world.
I don’t think God will give up on us.
I think with a bit of effort we can embrace what is best in each of us.
Jesus Christ came to redeem us – to offer forgiveness for our failings and to provide ‘the way’ forward toward a world of peace and justice.
I think that the first step in our reconciliation with God is this recognition that we are one.
We just metaphorically joined one another in sharing the communion meal.
The words to one of my favorite communion hymns state:
One bread, one body
One Lord of all
One cup of blessing which we bless
And we, though many
Throughout the earth
We are one body in this one Lord
Gentile or Jew
Servant or free
Woman or man, no more
Many the gifts
Many the works
One in the Lord of all
Grain for the fields
Scattered and grown
Gathered to one, for all
Henri Nouwen reminds us of the sacredness of the eucharistic meal:
“When we gather around the table and eat from the same loaf and drink from the same cup, we are most vulnerable to one another. We cannot have a meal together in peace with guns hanging over our shoulders and pistols attached to our belts. When we break bread together we leave our arms – whether they are physical or mental – at the door and enter into a place of mutual vulnerability and trust.
The beauty of the Eucharist (he continues) is precisely that it is the place where a vulnerable God invites vulnerable people to come together in a peaceful meal. When we break bread and give it to each other, fear vanishes and God becomes very close.”
The past few weeks have been rife with conflict, trauma and fear.
Many victims of sexual assault and domestic violence have come face-to-face with pain that they thought was past.
People for whom society once showed compassion are now being publicly ridiculed and mocked by our leaders.
We seem to have lost our soul.
But here, at this communion table we are fed.
Remember, we come to this table not because we must but because we may.
When we eat this bread and drink this cup we are transformed.
Our fears, our hurts, our pain is taken away with the remembrance of what Christ did for us.
This world is tumultuous, but we have this meal – the bread of life, the cup of salvation.
Life is difficult, but we gather as a community to remember that we are not alone – never alone.
Our wounds may be deep, but healing is available to us through Jesus Christ.
My friends, I believe that we are at a time in history when our faith is more important than ever.
We must hold fast to God’s promises, clinging to the belief that
God cares for us.
One commentator pointed out:
“You can’t follow Jesus without facing the challenge to be in relationships.
Our families, friends, strangers, companions in faith, and even our enemies, are all included in God’s love, and in God’s call for us to love.
The truth is, it is only when we learn to embrace love to this extent that we really find the abundant life that God desires for us.”
The psalmist’s words were important enough for the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews to reiterate – to be certain that the young church community remembered the steadfast love of God of our ancestors:
“What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
or mortals, that you care for them?
You have made them for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned them with glory and honor,
subjecting all things under their feet.”
I closed out my remarks last week at the Domestic Violence vigil with an invitation to dream of a better world:
I want you to dream with me.
Let’s dream of a world where women and children are safe.
Let’s dream of a world where our sons are raised to be gentle and kind.
Let’s dream of a world where power and control are forces for good.
Let’s dream of a world where deep listening is routine.
Let’s dream of a world where violence is a thing of the past.
I’ll add this: Let’s dream of a world where we are one body.
Let us pray.
Gracious and holy God, creator of all, we come before you today seeking your guidance on how to build your kingdom on earth.
How, O Lord, do we move from a violent people to a loving people?
How do we embrace our oneness with our neighbor?
We pray, O God that you will answer these questions for us.
We pray for the grace to lay down our burdens and barriers and to embrace our neighbor with love.
We pray for the children.
We pray for all who suffer in your world.
Give us the strength to follow the way of Jesus Christ, the way of peace and gentleness.
Hear our prayers this morning for those whom we love.
For those who are sick, we pray for healing.
For those who mourn, we pray for comfort.
For anyone in the world who lives with violence as part of their life – past or present – we pray for your healing grace.
May the Holy Spirit bring peace and comfort to each one.
Hear us now as we turn to you in the sacred silence of this Meetinghouse with the prayers of our hearts…
Jesus taught his friends to pray with these words…Our Father