Sermon, August 19

Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 5:15-20
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making
the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but
understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for
that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and
hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody
to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and
for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel of John 6:51-58
Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever
eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life
of the world is my flesh.”
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man
give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have
no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal
life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and
my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide
in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of
the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread
that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and
they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

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Sermon Pente 15B 2018
We become who we surround ourselves with.
We become what we think about.
We become what we eat.

These 3 commonly known proverbs yield more than truths and
advise. They plainly speak wisdom.
When we hear Jesus saying, “Unless you eat of the flesh of the
Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life within you” (John
6:53), are these words speaking wisdom or madness?
The writer of John’s Gospel tells the ‘Jesus Story’ differently
from the other three writers of the New Testament Gospels. Rather
than telling us about particular events, this writer tells us the
meaning of the events.
Writing 60 to 70 years after Jesus’ death, resurrection and
ascension, this author and his community have had time to think
through the meaning of Jesus’ life, reflecting on his teachings and
miracles, death and resurrection, discovering how their lives have
been impacted by Jesus.
In our reading for today, Jesus uses imagery that astonishes his
Jewish contemporaries, as well as us. It is gruesome to think of
literally gnawing on Jesus’ flesh and drinking his spilled blood. This
portrayal better suits a C-rated movie with vampires, zombies and
other mythical cannibalistic creatures.

But the great theologian William Barclay reminds us that 2 nd
and 3 rd generation, Gentile Christians in John’s community would
clearly understand this imagery.
Coming from pagan backgrounds,
1 st century Gentiles had participated in sacrificial feasts offered to
various gods. It was common belief that the god receiving the
offering in worship became part of the sacrificial offering. In eating

the meat offered to a god, a person also ingested that particular god.
After participating in the feast, people returned home not only with
stomachs filled, but with their bodies god-filled.

Barclay writes: (Those in the ancient world) “would not read (or
hear) phrases like eating Christ’s body and drinking his blood with
crude and shocked literalism. They would know something of that
ineffable experience of union…of which these words speak.” (William
Barclay, The Gospel of John, the Daily Study Bible Series, Westminster Press,
Philadelphia, 1975, p.233)
To us, these words immediately point to our celebration of the
Eucharist, the gift of Communion with God through Christ Jesus’
sacrificial giving of his body and blood. Yet, it is interesting to note
that John’s Gospel doesn’t include Jesus sharing his Last Supper the
disciples. By the time of John’s writing, sharing Jesus’ Last Supper
was common within the Christian community. Again, John’s Gospel
doesn’t describe events; John’s Gospel conveys their deepest meaning
as interpreted by the author.
John’s Gospel is telling us that communion with God is not only
through Jesus’ sacrificial death on a cross and his miraculous
As the Rev. Canon Frank Logue has written: “(John) makes
clear what the other three Gospels only hint at – that the Eucharist is
not about Jesus’ sacrificial death alone. Our faith is not in Jesus’
death and resurrection, alone, but in Jesus’ whole life from
Bethlehem to Golgotha and beyond to an empty tomb in a garden and
Jesus’ appearances to his disciples. Jesus’ whole life rather than
events of the last days of his life, institutes the sacrament of

Canon Logue continues: “Everything Jesus did – who Jesus was
and how he acted – is part of God’s revelation to us. We are to take
Jesus’ whole story and make it part of our story. God took Jesus’
whole life, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to us. We are to let that
story of God’s love for us take us, bless us, break us, and give us back
to the world.” (The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, Living Bread,
For in giving us back to the world, people are able to hear the
Jesus Story, see it come alive in us, and have the opportunity
themselves to explore it, ingest it, and invite God to continue in them
the process of humanity’s salvation through God loving, taking,
blessing, breaking and giving.
Jesus’ words are not madness, rather God’s wisdom for the life
and health of the world.
How do you and I take Jesus’ story and make it part of our own
First, I think we are given an opportunity every Sunday to
ingest Jesus’ story as we celebrate the liturgy of the Eucharist and
receive the sacrament of Holy Communion.
Also, I think we make Jesus’ story part of our story when we
follow his examples of loving others as ourselves – which for me is
what taking, blessing, breaking and giving is about.
In Bible-belt, conservative Texas, members of Austin New
Church arrived at the Austin Pride Parade August 12 th and offered free
hugs to all participants of the parade who needed one.

They gave out lots and lots of hugs. The church members knew
they were doing something good when they heard comments from
those being hugged, such as:
'I miss this.'
'My mom doesn’t love me anymore.'
'My dad hasn’t spoken to me in three years.'
'Please just one more hug.'

On August 15 th , on the 15 th anniversary of his Mother’s death
from cancer, local musician Ryan Alexander stopped by the John B.
Amos Cancer Center in Columbus, GA.
He told an inquisitive reporter that he simply shared his God-
given talents of singing and playing guitar to spread a little joy to
cancer patients by giving them a concert.

You and I have the ability to make part of Jesus’ story our own,
and impact our world.
Today (at the 10:30 liturgy), through the sacrament of Baptism,
we will initiate two sisters, Hailey and Rory, into the Christian
Church, the special Family of God centered on the whole story of
Jesus Christ. In this sacrament of the Church, parents, godparents
and all of us witnessing the baptismal vows pledge to support Hailey
and Rory in their new life in Christ, a life that is intentional about
making the Jesus’ story part of their own lives.

God entrusts the story to us with every confidence that we, too,
can make great impacts in the world by taking, blessing, breaking and
giving God’s love and life one opportunity, person at a time.