August 12 2012
REV. MALCOLM SPENCER
Ephesians 4: 15 – 5: 2 Paul offers us a vision of a new way of life
John 6: 35, 41 – 51 Jesus is the bread of life
Today we have two scriptures that Speak of what the life in Christ is all about.
1. New way of life
Last weekend I spoke to full little rural church on the occasion of our village’s 100 years celebration. I talked about history but also about what makes community. You need a dose of willing to share and contain anger and offer forgiveness and I have experienced that in the community when I was growing up. Our municipality even predated Medicare when it hired a municipal doctor in the 40’s. So the community spirit of those days survives yet. But as I was standing beside my grade 12 group I remember the bully of the group and actually smiled because he has gone through a lot too and there is only the present to content us.
One of the issues Paul raised in this letter was honesty and really isn’t the lack of it which breaks community and even breaks the economies of many countries in the world. In personal and community life I believe honesty could heal many wounds. I love that verse that says “do not [let] the sun go down while you are still angry”, yet that is very difficult to practice. Even Jesus got angry but it didn’t last long. It is a great passage about a healthy way to live being compassionate and kind and walking in the way of love. The way for community to thrive is the way for us to thrive as persons and find a healthy way to see ourselves in a better light and to cultivate those habits of forgiveness and compassion.
Would that business and government and banks try this out too for it makes for a healthy and thriving economy. I have heard that now in accounting courses honesty raw and true honesty is taught and stressed even more today. We are not left alone with this task of self and community renewal we have help.
2. Our gospel story from john follows from the feeding of the 5000 and Jesus used the image of himself and the bread of life. My brothers have a bread maker and in the past and in the winter they often use it. Coming into the house and smelling the bread they often would take it out, put something on it and eat the whole soft and delicious loaf. Now if only we had fresh bread here we wound be tempted to do the same. This is the fragrance Paul talked about. Jesus is the bread of life. He faced a doubtful crowd who knew where he came from but he knew of their spiritual hunger which compares to our bodily hunger but is harder to fulfill. In Jesus time people used bread for cutlery they ate other food using the bread to pick it up as they often do today in Ethiopia. Jesus is that wrap which holds us together and helps us have a new fresh and kinder life. He offers this and we can find our inspiration and way from him. Often a few minutes a day in prayer can focus us on what is really important and we can offer to Jesus our struggles and feelings and ask for the gifts that will renew us and give us some of the energy and delight of the Spirit to get us through the summer and fall as the harvest comes in. I saw bumper crops in the west so much so that new bins are being sold and farmers are facing a storage problem if they cannot sell it right away. Well perhaps as we facing a new pastoral year in Glen Rhodes might find our bumper crop of the gifts of community, compassion and forgiveness.
While the summer is still with us and the taste of the Danforth continues today let is remind us of the spiritual bread offered to us by our Saviour and how it can meet our inmost need.
The other theme I explored while away was the notion of home, we all sense a nostalgia for home and often return to places we came from or places we lived. I went back to the hospital where I was born in England a few years ago. I just wanted to see it but I went to see the chaplains in order to make it seem a visit to discuss mutual concerns. The reality is that once we leave home we can go back but it is never the same. That is the surprise of the invitation of Jesus to find that this is our true home and the home we really seek, our spiritual home is as close as the Christian community we are part of, we know our true home and we know it is only a prayer, and act of acceptance and kindness away. This is not a kind of spiritual retreat but rather an engaged place to be which encourages us and nurtures and gives us courage for the living in our time and place. An old saying says home is where the heart is and we know that is somewhat true. We also know there were some homes which were unpleasant and the memories of them were hurtful. This home where Jesus is the bread of life and where we are expected and loved and where we find our true selves fed on this food of life and hope and joy – the bread of home, the bread of heaven, the bread that gives us life and the reason to live and be part of the great fellowship of God’s people. This is really our home!
Loving and God we pray for the ways of a love that makes us more fully human and caring. We ask this in the name of Jesus our Saviour Amen