Introduction & Welcome
Welcome to worship today, God’s gift to us because God is good! all the time!
and all the time! God is good!
Jesus says that the bread he gives for the life of the world is his flesh, and whoever eats this bread has eternal life now and will be raised on the last day. In Ephesians, Paul tells us what this life Jesus gives us looks like, this life we live as those marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit in baptism. We live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. The whole purpose of life is giving yourself for the other.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, who forgives all our sin, whose mercy endures forever. Amen.
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another….Gracious God, have mercy on us. We confess that we have turned from you and given ourselves into the power of sin. We are truly sorry and humbly repent. In your compassion forgive us our sins, known and unknown, things we have done and things we have failed to do. Turn us again to you, and uphold us by your Spirit, so that we may live and serve you in newness of life through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
God, who is rich in mercy, loved us even when we were in bondage to sin, and made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved. In the name of ☩ Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven. Almighty God strengthen you with power through the Holy Spirit, that Christ may live in your hearts through faith. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. And also with you.
In peace, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For the peace from above, and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the Church of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For this assembly, and for all who offer here their worship and praise, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
Help, save, comfort, and defend us, gracious Lord. Amen.
Prayer of the Day
Gracious God, your blessed Son came down from heaven to be the true bread that gives life to the world. Give us this bread always, that he may live in us and we in him, and that, strengthened by this food, we may live as his body in the world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: 1 Kings 19:4-8
First Kings chapter 18 describes the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. The contest proves that the Lord is God, and afterward Elijah orders the killing of the Baal prophets. Angered by the deaths of her prophets, Queen Jezebel threatens to kill Elijah. This reading finds Elijah fleeing, fatigued, and in utter despair.
4[Elijah] went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”5Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” 6He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. 7The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” 8He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.
Psalm: Psalm 34:1-8
Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Ps. 34:8)
1I will bless the Lord at all times;
the praise of God shall ever be in my mouth.
2I will glory in the Lord;
let the lowly hear and rejoice.
3Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord;
let us exalt God’s name together.
4I sought the Lord, who answered me
and delivered me from all my terrors.
5Look upon the Lord and be radiant,
and let not your faces be ashamed.
6I called in my affliction, and the Lord heard me
and saved me from all my troubles.
7The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear the Lord
and delivers them.
8Taste and see that the Lord is good;
happy are they who take refuge in God!
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:25–5:2
Christians are called to be imitators of God. This does not mean Christians are perfect. Rather, the Spirit is at work in our lives so that our actions and attitudes genuinely reflect the love and forgiveness we have received through Christ and his death.
25So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and do not make room for the devil. 28Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. 5:1Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Alleluia. I am the living bread that came down from heaven.* Whoever eats this bread will live forever. Alleluia. (John 6:51)
Gospel: John 6:35, 41-51
After feeding more than five thousand people in the wilderness, Jesus teaches them regarding the true significance of this remarkable sign.
35Jesus said to [the crowd,] “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 41Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. 44No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I 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.”
Meditation by David O’Brien
“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up”. That sounds pretty simple but can be very difficult to put into practice. Many of us like to tell stories about others. It’s fun to be the center of attention and “dish the dirt”. But that isn’t very helpful. I have to admit that I’ve fallen victim to this temptation before and it’s never served me well. I remember talking poorly about someone at my office before I got to know them. Then, when I had to work with them, I had to learn to get over that earlier judgment I had made and come to understand them. In the long run I grew to respect them and learned a lot from them. By closing myself off to them at first, I did myself a disservice.
When I was young, my mother used to tell me that if I couldn’t say something nice it would be better to say nothing at all. I think that’s a simplified version of what is being said in Ephesians today. It’s also good advice for today. In our society, we tend to buy into the most sensational stories we can find. It used to be the supermarket tabloids that trafficked in these stories exclusively, talking about how out of control this celebrity is, or what awful things the English royalty are doing to each other. Nowadays, not only would you find stories like that in the tabloids, but they are all over the internet as well. Even some of the news sources that we used to trust spend their time-sharing sensational stories that really have no impact on our lives. And to make matters worse, you can’t trust anything you see or read on the internet these days either. So many people are pushing falsehoods, be they political or medical, that you have to check anything you see for accuracy. Mark Twain once said that “a lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots”. That’s even more true today with the speed of the internet.
It’s interesting that nearly 2,000 years ago, the early Christians were dealing with issues such as these without any internet, broadcast news or even newspapers. Paul’s advice to them would also serve us well today. Can you imagine a world where everyone spoke only the truth to each other? Or where we tried to solve our disputes honestly and quickly, instead of letting them fester until we end up with people rioting because they feel slighted in one way or another? When we let our disputes eat at us from the inside out, we are making room for the devil, as Paul is cautioning us against.
Paul tells us that we should be lifting each other up, by being kind to one another. It’s okay to be angry about something, but we should “not let the sun go down on [our] anger” and instead of being bitter, we should be kind to each other, forgiving as Christ forgave us. Most importantly, in my opinion, he tells us to imitate God and be loving to each other as Christ loved all of us. That’s something that Christ tells us to do quite often as well. In fact, the phrase “love one another” is written in about 15 different places in the Gospel of John, the epistles of John, Peter and the letters to the Thessalonians.
In today’s Gospel, Christ tells us that he is the living bread of life and offers us eternal life by eating this bread. The bread that He gives is His flesh and it is for the life of the entire world. I can think of no greater truth to spread to build each other up than that. And I can’t think of a better way to imitate Christ than by approaching others with that kind of love. May we all strive to love all of God’s children the way that Christ does.
Prayers of Intercession
Rooted in Christ and sustained by the Spirit, we offer our prayers for the church, the world, and all of creation.
A brief silence.
For the church of Christ in all its diverse forms. For mission developers, new mission starts, and all communities of faith exploring new models of ministry for the sake of the gospel. For congregations facing difficult decisions about their future, including our own. For Daniel and Elizabeth, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
For the health and well-being of creation. For shade trees that provide refuge from the hot summer sun. For lakes, rivers, and oceans contaminated by pollution and all who lack clean water. For those of us who have clean water, that we might be grateful and cherish and protect such a precious resource. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
For those called to positions of authority in our legal system, we pray. For judges, lawyers, law clerks, and court employees who ensure the fair administration of justice. For police officers and probation/parole officers. For corrections officers and prison chaplains, that they would deal mercifully with those who are incarcerated. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
For all who cry out to you in their affliction. For exiles, refugees, and others who face long and difficult journeys, uncertain about the future. For all who mourn the death of a loved one. For all who are sick, especially the people we remember in our prayer list. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
For this assembly gathered around you, we pray. For those who are homebound or hospitalized or institutionalized. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
For those who have been raised to eternal life, we give thanks. With all the saints we praise you for the bread of life that keeps us in your love forever. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We lift these and all our prayers to you, O God, confident in the promise of your saving love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.*
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
And now, as our Savior, Christ is teaching us, we boldly pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.
The blessing of God,
who provides for us, feeds us, and journeys with us,
☩ be upon you now and forever.
Go in peace. You are the body of Christ.
Thanks be to God.