This coming Sunday has been designated as "Sunday for the City" by our district, and many of our congregations will be recognizing it as such (like Lamb of God). The district has provided special aids for this celebration. One is a special prayer, which we will use. A second are sermon helps. These helps were not available at the time I was working on Sunday's sermon, so I didn't use them. However they are good, so I thought I'd share them. You can see all the available resources by clicking on the link in Official Acts post I made earlier today. Now, the sermon notes for the sermon I will not be preaching.
Text: John 6:35, 41-51
While we might question the wisdom of the liturgiologists who chose several successive weeks of “bread “ gospel texts during the weeks of summer, there is homiletical richness in all of them. August 9th, 11th Sunday after Pentecost focuses us on one of the great “I am “statements of Jesus in the witness of Johns gospel where Jesus declares himself to be the “bread of life”.Tilting this toward the theme of SED “Sunday for the City”, the following connections are offered between Jesus as the bread of life, and life in an urban setting:
a/ Using the petition of the Lord’s prayer “ give us this day our daily bread”, and especially Luther’s definition of “bread “ as “ all that we need to support this body and life”, one might focus on bread as emblematic for all that people need in order to physically live. One could then list out all that people living in an urban environment often lack in terms of “ daily bread”; food, jobs, health care, affordable housing, safe streets etc.
b/ While congregations and servant institutions of the Church are good at providing physical food to those in need, they often struggle in understanding what it is like to live without other forms of “daily bread” and what the layered causes are behind those needs. There are political, economic, cultural, historical patterns that over time (and generations) create hungers that are far more difficult to fill than a food basket might provide.
c/ Most Anglos were raised in an environment where sheer hard work and determination were all that were needed to insure “daily bread”. It is then truly difficult for Anglo’s to identify with those brothers and sisters living in an urban context where generations have faced seemingly unchangeable powers that make it very hard for anything to change.
d/ Admitting our own subtle racism is very hard but necessary in realizing how our own unspoken attitudes and thoughts need to change. Developing contexts for honest dialog with those in need is difficult but critical to being the servants of compassionate mercy that Christ calls us to be.
e/ Jesus as bread of life is a deeper kind of daily bread than we could imagine. It is a spiritual sustenance that feeds the deeper hunger of the heart; a love that is unconditional and unchanging. Knowing this love fills the hole in the heart that all of us have as we live out a life whose script we did not write, and deal with things or people that we are neither fair nor fun.
f/ To be “in Christ” brings the peace of what it means to know whose we are, why we are here and where we are going when our journey is done. Living in that peace allows us the freedom and courage to see all people around us being creatures whom God loves. Before we see the color of the skin, the clothing that is worn, the car that is driven, the house in which someone lives, the attitude with which they conduct themselves, we see them through “cross eyes” as someone for whom Christ died.
g/ The radical inclusivity of the gospel is not one embraced by the world. It requires courage, patience, learning along with the risk of vulnerability. To reach out opens the possibility for being hurt, misunderstood, or rejected. This gospel imperative however is what our baptism calls us to. It is not an optional activity nor is it ever satisfied. Each day invites us into a lifestyle of words and actions that incarnate Jesus’ words, being “bread” for all around us.
+ Possible children’s sermon
Holding a hand puppet and asking children to tell you what they see. They might mention size, color, hair and other details as you agree that is how we usually see those around us. Taking the puppet off of your hand turn it inside out and suggest that this is how God sees us - all the same , with joys, sorrows, fears and hurts in our hearts. God saw that and that is why God sent Jesus so that we might ALL know we are loved and forgiven. If god has thus loved us, so in the words of 1 John, we ought to love one another which means we see each other inside out too!
+Possible bulletin inclusion:
“We struggled against one another;
now we are reconciled to struggle for each other
We believed it was right to withstand each other:
now we are reconciled to understand each other
We endured the power of violence:
now we are reconciled to the power of tolerance
We built irreconcilable barriers between us;
now we seek to build a society of reconciliation
We suffered a separateness that did not work;
now we are reconciled to make togetherness work
We believed we alone held the truth;
now we are reconciled in the knowledge that the truth holds us”
South African national service of Thanksgiving