Retelling the Story: I am the bread of life

1 Aug 2021 by Gail Hinton in: Sermons

Welcome to the Church

Welcome to yet another lock down service. During this time, time you have chosen to set a apart for worship, I pray that God’s Spirit will nurture and refresh your souls.

Call to Worship (based on Ephesians 4: 4-6)

There is one church under Christ.

There is one Spirit that unites us.

There is one hope that draws us into a relationship with God.

One Lord, one faith, one baptism
and one God who is above all,
through all,
and in all.

Let us worship our awesome God.

Hymn: Guide me, O thou great Redeemer

Prayers of Adoration and Confession

Mighty God you are above all,
yet you stooped down to became one of us in Jesus Christ.

You are through all,
yet you gently and patiently reach out to us,
giving us the choice to receive you or not.

You are in all. In you we live and move and have our being,
yet you never force our attention.

Your way is the risky way of love,
a love that gives us space and freedom,
a love that draws us to you
because it is the only love that can truly satisfy our hungry hearts,
and thirsty souls.


Prayer of Confession (Based on Psalm 51, adapted from the work of Bruce D. Prewer)

In your dependable love, Lord, we find healing;
Your unconditional acceptance removes our shame.

Wash us clean.

Make us like new again.

Excuses for our sins are no good;
our failure to love stands out a mile.

Worst of all our lovelessness hurts you;
What we fail to do for others adds to your pain.

When we think of your suffering
we are miserable.

But you don’t hold it against us,
you help us to recover from our shame.

Lord we ask that you change us deep down,
Transform us through the everlasting waters
and the bread of life that never perishes.

Purify our feelings and reshape our ideas and attitudes.

Above all, Lord don’t ever leave us,
nor remove your saving Spirit.

Help us to delight in you more than anything else,
and in the freedom you grant us may we stand up straight and true.

In Jesus, the one who declares us his friends,
our sins are forgiven.

Thanks be to God.

Hymn: All to Jesus I surrender

Bible Readings

Ephesians 4:1-16 NRSV

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said,

“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
    he gave gifts to his people.”

(When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.


John 6:24-35 NRSV

24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Sermon: I am the bread of life

Today’s reading from the Gospel of John piggybacks the Feeding of the Five Thousand moving beyond the account of a miracle in which people’s bellies are filled to the miracle of grace in which people’s souls and lives are filled to overflowing. Jesus declares in this passage that he is God’s chosen one, the one who can give us eternal life, and in one of John’s many “I am” statements we hear Jesus say this, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Against this beautiful and amazing promise, which is the heart of the good news, I always find the scene in which the people demand another miracle from Jesus, tragic and heartbreaking. Why can’t they see Jesus for who is truly is? Why are they more fascinated with his miraculous powers instead of accepting his words to come to him to have life (John 5:40). In this story the people fail to make the connection between the miraculous feeding of the five thousand and the presence of God in Jesus. They have been distracted, entertained, and delighted by things going on at surface level and have missed Jesus’ proclamation of the good news. Just prior to the miracle of the loaves and fishes many of the people in this crowd would have heard Jesus describe himself as the one who God testifies to, the one who God has sent. It appears that the revelation of Jesus true identity goes straight in one ear and out the other.

These poor souls are not interested in a relationship with Jesus, they are not prepared to accept him or investigate his claims and although they follow him, they keep him at a distance. 

I wonder if we too, act a bit that sometimes. Do we only want enough of Jesus to feel all warm and cosy about life? Do we keep him at arm’s length so that we don’t have to surrender ourselves? Do we fear the cost of changing, growing and transforming into little versions of Christ?

We can accept Jesus promises, we can claim we have a set of Christian beliefs, we can go to church regularly, we can follow his moral code and we can try to be good but none of that is the same thing as being in a relationship with Jesus. One wise soul compares this to the concept of falling in love, we can know what romantic love looks like and talk about it as a concept but until it actually happens to us, we do not truly understand its nature.

We too, like the crowd in today’s story can be distracted by the things going on around us, peripheral things, things on the surface, like discerning a way forward for the church or the demands of a busy life. Now, these things are very important, however we must not allow them to shift our focus away from Jesus’ invitation to become his friends. Through this intimate relationship the infinite God dwells within us and unites as a one body in the church. Now that is truly a miracle!

To help us draw our focus to Jesus and nurture our personal relationships with him I am going to retell today’s gospel story. I invite you to use your imaginations, play with the story, enjoy it and wonder about it. Go deep and listen for a word or image that connects you to Jesus, bringing to reality the intimate, indwelling of God’s Spirit within you and all about you. Immerse yourself in the story and if it is helpful sit quietly with your eyes gently closed. Note how you are feeling and what you are doing as you place yourself right in the thick of the action. During this retelling of the Scripture, may the Holy Spirit keep us open and willing to see our place in the world as Jesus’ friends and instead of keeping Jesus at a distance draw ever closer to the one who is the bread of life.

Are you sitting comfortably? Let’s begin.

You have just arrived at the other side of the sea, and you jostle with the crowd to get close to Jesus. Imagine the smell of the sea, the weather, is the sun shining or is it breezy or overcast. What does it feel like to be one in amongst a crowd of curious seekers and onlookers?

Like all the others you wonder how Jesus crossed over the water, you know he didn’t get into a boat. Someone asks him how he got there, and he replies, “You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for free.”

How does this reply make you feel? Do you have a sense of awe or discomfort in Jesus sidestepping the question and looking straight into your soul?

Jesus continues to speak, “don’t work for the kind of food that dries up and rots away, work for the food that only I can give you, it will fill you here and now and for evermore.

What images come to mind when you hear the word work? Does this require effort? What is the mood of the crowd around you?

The person next to you asks Jesus how they can work for this eternal food and Jesus replies, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

As a member of the crowd who has been following Jesus from one side of the lake to the other do you think you would remember Jesus words before the miracle of the loaves and fishes, or do you think you might still be looking for another show, another sign?

Another soul pipes up in the crowd and recalls that Moses feed the people manna in the wilderness, so they challenge Jesus to do something equally amazing as a sign, Jesus instead proclaims that it was not Moses who gave the people bread from heaven, “it is my Father who gives the true bread from heaven,” Jesus says.  “The bread of God that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 

The crowd falls silent as if they are all trying to digest this piece of information. In the silence consider if you wish to reach out and accept this life-giving food?

When the crowd asks for this bread Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Before you remove yourself from the story think about where you are and what you are doing? Are you still situated in the middle of the crowd? Have you edged your way a little closer to Jesus? Are you standing, kneeling, or turning away?  Are your hands open and ready to receive?  If you are ready, open your hands now, lay them flat on your lap, palms turned up. Feel the warmth and light of Christ fill them as the bread of life is placed gently into your grasp. Cherish it for a moment, let it fill you, every speck of you, every pore, every atom.

May God’s Spirit fill you will eternal life,
give you strength for the days ahead,
a heart full of compassion,
and a sense of justice for all of God’s people in this world that God loves so dearly.


Hymn: Jesus calls us here to meet him

Prayers of Intercession

We come before you God with our Prayers of Intercession.

Teach us to be still; to be present to what is around us, and in that stillness may we know that God’s presence surrounds us. May God, the heart of life, be deep within us.  May the compassion of Christ envelope us. May we be open to the needs of others. 

Caring God, we pray for all who are required to live for some time in isolation, those in our Aged Care Homes, those who are unable to leave their homes because of a disability, those whose livelihood is at risk because of the impact on our economy, and those who are feeling uncertain and fearful. Help us to maintain our sense of community, so that those who feel isolated or alone will know that they have supportive friends who bring your presence near.

In these most challenging times, we give thanks for the people  who are working for the benefit of our community:    Medical personnel and Emergency workers    Ministers and Counsellors,   Teachers and Carers,   Shop staff and truck drivers,   Public transport staff ,  Utilities maintenance workers,   Cleaners and garbage collectors ,  Scientists and Journalists,   Farmers and Delivery persons ,  Artists and Entertainers, and we thank you for  Gail and Trish, our  worship and pastoral leaders.     May they know how much they are appreciated.

God of hope, we pray for all people including –
those who have lost loved ones to the Covid 19 Pandemic; for the sick and those caring for them; the ones in overcrowded homes and accommodation; any who are at risk of violence and increased tensions because they are not used to being confined together; those in positions of responsibility with difficult decisions to make.

We continue to pray for our Church Council as it continues to addresses the future of ministry and mission direction for Carlingford Church, we pray for wisdom amongst members and prompting from your Holy Spirit as the Council discerns the way ahead.

Breathe your Spirit again within each of us, give us fresh energy to move forward.   

God, we thank You for this day of life, for eyes to see the sky, for ears to hear the birds, for feet to walk amidst the trees, for hands to pick the flowers from the earth, for a sense of smell to breathe in the sweet perfumes of nature for a mind to think about and appreciate the magic of everyday miracles, for a spirit to swell in joy at Your mighty presence everywhere.

Prayer for a pandemic 22.3 2020 (this prayer was quoted 16 months ago, unfortunately   it is still relevant today)

May we who are merely inconvenienced, remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors, remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home, remember those who must choose between preserving their health, or making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close, remember those who have no options.  May we who have to cancel our trips, remember those that have no safe place to go.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home, remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country, let us choose love.  During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbours.

And we offer this prayer in the name of our Lord Jesus, who taught us when we pray, to say:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.     Amen.

Offering Prayer

Gracious God, all that we have and all that we are
is down to you.

So, we return to you gladly all that we have to offer.

We ask that the gifts we bring
build up the body of Christ,
so that people will be drawn to you
and receive life in abundance.


Hymn: Just a Closer walk with Thee.


May the Lord lead us when we go, and keep us when we sleep, and talk with us when we wake; and may the peace of God, which is far beyond our understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ.

Next Week: 8 August 2021
Reading: Eph 4:25-5:2, John 6:35, 41-51
Lectionary Readings:
2 Sam 18:5-9, 15, 31-33, Ps 130,
Eph 4: 25-5:2, John 6:35, 41-51