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PROLOGUE TO THE WORD


August 12, 2018

POETIC SENSIBILITIES

1 Kings 19:4-8
In the verses preceding this week’s reading from 1 Kings, the prophet Elijah has won a great victory over the prophets of the false “god,” Baal. This victory, however, angers the powers that be, specifically the King and Queen of Israel, Ahab and Jezebel. Jezebel puts out a “contract” on Elijah’s life, and so in the verses for this week we see Elijah on the lam, literally running for his life. He seeks solace in the wilderness, and feeling completely “burned out” by all he has experienced, he asks for God to just end his life. Elijah feels hopeless and alone. However, God sends an angel to provide not only food, drink and rest, but encouragement to carry on. The angel tells Elijah, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” We are then told that Elijah is able to go with “the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.”

Ephesians 4:25-5:2
In this letter to the Ephesians, the hearers are encouraged to make a connection between their new lives in Christ, and what that means for them in their day to day lives. These verses aren’t a “set of rules,” but rather a way of “being.” The Ephesians are told to “cast off” and “put away” anger, slander, malice and bitterness, and are to be kind to one another, tenderhearted and forgiving. In other words, they are to be “imitators of God.” The Ephesians are now a part of the “body of Christ,” and that membership gives them “bread for the journey” - the strength needed to work together in faith and community.

John 6:35, 41-51
This week’s Gospel lesson begins with Jesus’ words, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me with never be thirsty.” The hearers of these words of Jesus begin to grumble and complain – they are taking Jesus’ words literally, and they don’t understand how this Jesus that they think they know, this “son of Joseph” can claim that he came “down from heaven.” Jesus goes on to tell them that their ancestors, who ate the manna that God provided in the wilderness, died - but that he (Jesus) is the “living bread” and that “Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.”

Sermon Notes
In all three passages for this week there is a theme of being fed by God, both literally and metaphorically. What does it mean for Jesus to speak of himself as the “bread of life”? In what ways does Christ “nourish” us and how does that help us on our own journeys?

Shalom, Rev. Lisa Bowersock