The Holy Gospel reading is from the book of John and begins, “I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry; no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty.”
Have you ever sat and experienced a crystalline moment during one of our services, knowing you are enfolded in God’s love and the nurture and support of this community, so overcome with gratitude that tears roll down your cheeks?
Reading the lessons from the fourth Sunday of Creationtide is, for me, a similar experience. I feel such a total sense of peace and well-being, knowing that God is present, enjoying my sense of awe and thanksgiving for creation.
Friends, or even people who hear we have worked with the poor in developing countries, often ask how we coped with the poverty, especially hunger. Reflecting on this common question, what always comes to mind are our memories of people living at the edge of survival. But we have also never known, despite their individual situations, so many deep-down, happy people in our lives. They seemed to hold a wisdom about the realities of life that I discover the answer to, and then forget, over and over again.
My African pastor, Daudi Diauli, when I shared my thoughts with him, observed, “God has given us this moment. We are surrounded by poisonous snakes, wild animals, and diseases that can strike us down at any time, but we are also surrounded by God’s promise to be with us. We don’t worry about what we can’t control, we live in God’s time. That is enough.”
Being at one with my Creator and as a part of creation, I pray and praise, celebrate and rejoice and at the same time, am aware of the pain, suffering, and needs of the world. We are God’s creation and co-creators with God, whether it is in feeding and tending hungry bodies, hungry hearts, hungry souls, or hungry minds; alive with God’s presence and living in God’s time.
What is this bread of life Jesus was talking about? For me, it is a filling of my heart with every part of creation in relationship with a loving God. That is enough.
As Meister Eckhart wrote: If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is “thank you,” that would suffice.
God, who stretched the spangled heavens
Infinite in time and place,
Flung the suns in burning radiance
Through the silent fields of space:
We, Your children in Your likeness,
Share inventive powers with You;
Great Creator, still creating,
Show us what we yet may do.
We have ventured worlds undreamed of
Since the childhood of our race;
Known the ecstasy of winging
Through untraveled realms of space;
Probed the secrets of the atom,
Yielding unimagined power,
Facing us with life's destruction
Or our most triumphant hour.
As each far horizon beckons,
May it challenge us anew:
Children of creative purpose,
Serving others, honoring You.
May our dreams prove rich with promise,
Each endeavor well begun;
Great Creator, give us guidance
Till our goals and Yours are one.
- Catherine Arnott Cameron b. 1927
First Reading: Isaiah 65:16-25
“Then those invoking a blessing in the land will bless by the power of God’s faithfulness; and those invoking an oath in the land will swear by the power of God’s faithfulness. The former troubles are to be forgotten, and they will be hidden from my eyes.
“For I am about to create a new heavens and a new earth! The things of the past will not be remembered or come to mind!
“Be glad and rejoice forever and ever in what I create, because I now create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight! I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or old people who do not live out their days. Those who reach only a hundred years will die as mere youths, and those who fall short of a hundred will be thought accursed. “At last they will live in the houses they build, and eat the fruit of the vineyard they plant. They will not build for another to inhabit; they will not plant for another to eat. For the days of my people will be like the days of a tree, and my chosen ones will enjoy the fruit of their labors. They will not labor in vain or bear children who are doomed to die; for they and their descendants are a people blessed by God. “Even before they call on me, I will answer; and while they speak, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed side by side; the lion will eat straw like an ox. Serpents will be content to crawl on the ground. They will not injure or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says Our God.
Second Reading: Revelation 21:1-6
Then I saw new heavens and a new earth. The former heavens and the former earth had passed away, and the sea existed no longer. I also saw a new Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down out of heaven from God, beautiful as a bride and groom on their wedding day. And I heard a loud voice calling from the throne, “Look! God’s home is among humankind! God will live with them; they will be God’s people, and God will be fully present among them. The Most High will wipe away every tear from their eyes. And death, mourning, crying, and pain will be no more, for the old order has fallen." The One who sat on the throne said, “Look! I’m making everything new!” and added, “Write this, for what I am saying is trustworth y and true.”
And that One continued, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To those who are thirsty I will give drink freely from the spring of the water of life."
Gospel: John 6:35, 48-51; 7:37-38; 15:1,5,8
Jesus said to the people, “I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry; no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, and if you eat it you’ll never die. I myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If any eat this bread they will live forever; the bread I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
On the last day of the festival, Jesus stood up and shouted, “Any who are thirsty, let them come to me and drink! Those who believe in me, as scripture says, ‘From their innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Abba is the vine-grower. I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who live in me and I in them will bear abundant fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. My Abba will be glorified if you bear much fruit and thus prove to be my disciples.”
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