Ordinary Time (Proper 14)
John 6:35, 41–51
The Bread of Life
1 Kings 19:4–8, Psalm 34:1–8, Ephesians 4:25—5:2, Doctrine and Covenants 163:9
Include in the worship center various types of bread from around world. Focus especially on countries where the church has a presence and discover what type of bread is used in those places. Alternatively, place pictures of different types of bread on the worship center or project pictures of bread. The bread or pictures will also be used in the Focus Moment.
Sharing of Joys and Concerns
Call to Worship
Hymn of Rejoicing
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” CCS 101
OR “I Will Sing, I Will Sing” CCS 112
John 6:35, 41–51
Draw the congregants’ attention to the assortment of bread on the worship center. Ask them to identify the different types of bread and guess where the bread may have come from. Discuss the value of the feast of bread that is before them. Is what Jesus offers such a fantastic feast that we go away feeling like we never need to eat again?
One of our Enduring Principles is the Worth of All Persons: “We seek to uphold and restore the equal worth of all people individually and in community.” Discuss how our mission is to share the message that God views all people as having inestimable and equal worth and wants all people to experience wholeness of body, mind, spirit, and relationships. All are invited and worthy to receive the abundance of God’s love and grace. We all are worthy.
Ask children and youth to distribute the bread to the congregation, encouraging them to try a new type of bread.
Hymn of the Bread of Life
“You Satisfy the Hungry Heart” CCS 531
OR “Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ” CCS 522
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
During the Prayer for Peace, include in your prayers the countries represented by the different types of bread on the worship center.
For more ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.
Based on John 6:35, 41–51
“Nada te turbe” (sing through several times) CCS 241
OR “God Forgave My Sin in Jesus’ Name” CCS 627
Disciples’ Generous Response
Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 163:9
As you share financially through Mission Tithes, or if you give regularly through eTithing, please use this time to consider your commitment and how you will tithe to your true capacity of time, talent, and testimony.
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
Lord, we give thanks for the abundant blessings we receive from you. As we receive these blessings, we are called to give out of our abundance, to help our creation and our human family. We confess there are times when we fall short in our giving, when we ignore the cries and groans of your world, and fail to see where your Spirit is leading us. We ask now for your forgiveness as we pray together:
God, where will your Spirit lead today?
Help me be fully awake and ready to respond.
Grant me courage to risk something new and
become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
“With a Steadfast Faith” CCS 649
OR “God’s Melody of Peace” CCS 319
Leader: We are part of the same body
People: and strive to be truthful and productive.
Leader: We will be honest and work hard
People: and help others by what we say.
Leader: We will be kind and merciful, and forgive others,
People: just as God forgave us through Christ.
All: Let love be our guide as Christ loved us.
—Ephesians 4:25—5:2, adapted
Ordinary Time (Proper 14)
John 6:35, 41–51
Exploring the Scripture
The Gospel of John often is described as a spiritual witness to Jesus as the Word of God made flesh. The author is unknown, although it traditionally is understood to be written under the authority of John, the disciple who Jesus loved. John’s Gospel reflects on the nature of God made real in Jesus Christ and on what that means for those who believe. It is helpful to note that this Gospel was written close to 100 years after Jesus’ ministry (CE 95–100).
By this time, followers of Jesus in and around Galilee had developed a religious identity separate from their historical Jewish roots. They did hold a common understanding of Jewish scripture and cultural identity. As John bears witness to Jesus as God incarnate (in the flesh), he often points to parts of Jewish scripture and story to show the divine nature of Jesus. In John, we find Jesus explaining his identity with “I am” sayings. Using the phrase “I am” is a way to point to his divine nature. “I am” is how God self-identified in Hebrew Scriptures. Believers with a Jewish background would hear “I am” and immediately understand that Jesus is identifying himself as part of God. In this passage, Jesus says “I am the bread of life.” Unlike the bread (manna) God sent previously to the people wandering in the wilderness, this gift from God provides the eternal blessing.
It is interesting that when they heard Jesus describe himself as the bread that came down from heaven, some people reacted negatively. In Hebrew Scriptures, the people in the wilderness had complained about the manna from heaven. By connecting these two events, the Gospel writer can contrast the gift of physical bread (manna in the wilderness) to the gift of spiritual bread (eternal life).
In John’s Gospel, the early Christians heard Jesus identify himself as God’s gift of eternal salvation. It was important for early believers to understand themselves as recipients of this gift. Believing that Jesus came from divine origins and that he is the word of God in the flesh
was essential to them for understanding God’s nature and God’s wish to be in loving relationship with humankind. This relationship was not limited to a select few. John writes that whoever eats this bread, whoever believes, has eternal life.
This passage closes with a brief reflection on the sacrificial nature of this gift. Bread was given as a sacrificial offering regularly. In temple life, the 12 loaves offered were referred to as holy bread or “showbread.” The bread on the altar was replaced with fresh bread; the stale bread was given to the temple priests. The sacrifice of the bread of life is Jesus, given not as payment for the debt of sin but as a gift for the world to know eternal life.
God offers the gift of Jesus Christ as an act of hospitality. To understand Jesus as the bread of life is more than believing Jesus’ divine origins. It is to live in ways that bring God’s divine presence into everyday actions. The bread of life is an invitation to anyone who hears to come and follow Jesus. Community of Christ stresses this invitation through the Mission Initiative of Invite People to Christ. When we share the invitation to Christ, we share in God’s act of hospitality.
- By using the name of God, “I am,” Jesus identifies himself as one who is from God.
- Manna in the wilderness was given through Moses for the earthly nourishment of God’s people. Through Jesus, the bread from heaven, God offers the divine gift of spiritual and eternal life.
- The gift of eternal life is received through believing in and following Jesus Christ.
Questions to Consider
- How does God invite people into relationship through Jesus?
- Some people fussed and complained because they didn’t understand what Jesus meant by saying he was the bread from heaven. Have you ever fussed or complained because you didn’t understand what God was revealing to you?
- The scripture implies that believing is to hear and to learn. How does this guide your understanding of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ?
- In this scripture passage, we find the gift of life through Jesus Christ is for everyone. How might God work through other faiths to bring blessing to the world?
- To invite people to Christ is to share your witness. How have you experienced the life-giving gift of Jesus?