Year B Proper 13 John 6
I Am the Bread of Life
It is quite difficult for me, as an American, to understand the importance of bread unless I turn on my TV and watch what is going on in so many parts of the world today. When there is no staff of life there is suffering and famine. A simple loaf of bread: Something, which we do not give a second thought, but in certain parts of the world it means life itself.
It is only as we comprehend that situation that we can really begin to understand the importance of bread not only now but also in the time of Jesus. Just think for a moment how so many significant theological events in the Bible revolve around the subject of bread. The most important event in the Old Testament of course, was the Exodus event--the trip from Egypt to the Promised Land. But what caused the Hebrews to be in Egypt in the first place? It was for want of bread you will recall. The wheat crop had failed due to draught, and the Hebrews had migrated to the land of the Pharaoh because there was a surplus in storage there. It was bread, or the lack of it, that initiated this whole chain of events.
Later, when the Jews were on their way to the Promised Land, and they were facing starvation in the bleak wilderness, God rained down bread from heaven, as it was called, in the form of manna.
When Jesus began his ministry, he went into the dessert where he was tempted. As the hot sun braced down upon him, he looked out with sweaty eyes at the round white rocks, and we are told that they took on the appearance of loaves of bread. Satan was tempting Jesus to give bread to the people and end the suffering of world hunger. Yet, Jesus spurned that temptation because, he said, that man cannot live by bread alone.
One day Jesus was praying by the roadside when the disciples walked up and saw him. They were so impressed by the genuine nature of his prayer that they implored him: Master, teach us how to pray. It was in the midst of the Master's prayer that he reminds us of the importance of the staff of life. He prayed: Give us this day our daily bread.
Bread is central to the major stories of the bible but...
- To satisfy your hunger for heaven you cannot eat the bread of earth.
- To satisfy your hunger for heaven you must eat the bread of heaven.
Go Fly A Kite
The health care debate is getting intense, and tense. This past week an unnamed congressman was told by another member of Congress to “Go fly a kite.”
There is another meaning to that phrase than “Buck Off” or “Go Jump In The Lake.” I think I can count on all of you over 40 having seen a movie named “Mary Poppins.” Am I right? How many of you have never seen that Disney classic? . . . Wow. [React to how few, or how many.]
Those of you who have seen this movie know that it’s a story about a magical nanny who saves some poor little rich kids from their father’s inattention. Remember the ending? The father re-establishes his relationship with his kids by taking them kite flying. The song the re-born family joyously sings together is "Let’s Go Fly A Kite." [If you can play it here, fantastic. Or better yet, get your choir to sing it.]
Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest heights
Let's go fly a kite, and send it soaring.
Up in the atmosphere,
Up where the air is clear,
Let's all go . . . fly a kite.
Flying high. Flying free. Flying solo. Flying together. Flying was the great dream that drove the Apollo 11 astronauts to land on the moon 40 years ago last month (19 July 1969).
Our Scripture lesson for this morning finds Jesus trying to teach people the difference between earthly bread and heavenly bread, between the visible and the invisible. It’s a distinction that Paul captured in his second letter to the church at Corinth: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). This morning, I want us to explore what Jesus is driving home to the crowd by this image of being born up into the heavens by the power of the invisible, which we call flying, and in particular kite-flying.
Flying drove the imaginations of all sorts of adventurers as the twentieth century dawned. Once the Wright brothers finally got aloft, partly as a result of their literal kite-flying, there was no keeping fliers down. Within two decades there were barn-stormers, wing-walkers, crop-dusters. When World War I erupted, there were dive-bombers and dog-fighters.
Flying became the mark of modernity. But with everything else “modern” it came with lots of strings attached. A pilot had to get certified and licensed. There were engineering concerns. Aerodynamic logistics. Gas. Oil. Spark plugs. Electrical systems. Hydraulics. Weather issues. Visibility requirements. As air travel grew in comfort, speed, altitude, and complexity, the technology that kept flyers tethered to “ground control” became more and more of an intricately tangled web.
The simple kite on the end of a single string might not get our bodies aloft, but it remains the simplest, most basic form of...