Sermon – Year B Proper 13
I am the bread of life
Bread. Who does not respond favorably and warmly to the wonderful aroma of fresh baked bread … while it is baking and when it is taken right from the oven.
Bread. A staple in every diet. It is one of our basics … a common, everyday food, that of which, most of us partake. It is readily available for most of us in some form. It is always within reach … for a snack … for a sandwich or a slice of toast in the morning.
Bread. “I am the bread of life” Jesus says in our gospel narrative for this morning.
“I am the bread of life.”
This metaphor got me thinking about a product that many of us, if not most of us, grew up with.
Did you know that Wonder Bread was created in 1921 by the Taggart Baking Company in Indianapolis, Indiana?
Did you know that its ever-famous red, yellow and blue balloons on the package were inspired by those same colored balloons being sent up into the sky at the Indianapolis Speedway one day? It was the International Balloon Race. This sight instilled Elmer Cline, vice president of the company, with “wonder” and hence, the name and the balloons created that famous logo that is still on some grocery shelves to this day.
Did you know that in 1925, Taggart Baking sold out to Continental Baking (owned by Gene Autrey) and that in 1930 it began selling “sliced bread.”? Did you know that this inspired the expression, “the best thing since sliced bread”?
Did you know that in 1941 they introduced vitamins and minerals into the bread to make it healthier? (This was done to fight diseases like Beriberi and pellagra.) It was also mass produced to make it more affordable for the less fortunate of the day. They also introduced that same year a way of making it in a way to eliminate holes.
Fort-five years later they introduced Wonder Light, which added fiber. And in 2004 Interstate purchased Wonder Bread from Continental and ultimately filed for bankruptcy protection. But, they’re still in business and you can find the product yet today.
Wonder Bread. Touted to build strong bodies in 12 different ways. Squishy white stuff that promises to do so much.
We are blessed to know the real wonder bread.
Jesus the Christ.
This wonder bread that we know as the son of God will always feed, always nurture and always be there. It will not go bankrupt. It isn’t squishy white stuff, but rock solid and eternal.
It is full of life in and of itself. And it is fully life-giving.
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus said. “Whoever comes to me will never be hungry.”
David Sellery, rector of St. John’s, Salisbury, Connecticut, suggests that “The crowd thinks they’ve caught the gravy train and they don’t want this party to end. After some probing, they put in their order, ‘Give us a sign to believe in you. How about a regular diet of manna raining from heaven? Jesus seizes on their opening to explain …” his being the bread of life. “He is offering himself as the spiritual food that will fill our deepest needs.”
They (and we) are being called into a more intimate relationship. Not only are we to follow him as the living Word of God, we are now to “consume him” as Fr. David puts it. “He wants to become part of us, to shape us to his purpose, to live in all that we do.
And part of this consummation takes us from being individuals experiencing something private and unique to us, but it becomes the common feast that brings us together as a community.
“We are not Christians because we call ourselves Christians. We are Christians because we are baptized into grace; nourished and strengthened, body and soul, fully committed, fully absorbed in the love of Christ.
“We are here to do God’s work in the world. We are here to share the Bread of Life with a world that is stuffed with sin and starving for love. ”1
And so, dear ones, as you receive Holy Communion next week, known as the body of Christ, you will be able to think of the many ways that this particular “wonder bread” strengthens you for your day to day journey. I pray that you will take this opportunity to re-member (as in re member) yourselves with the saints and family members long gone.
Feed on this opportunity with thanksgiving as it energizes you, knowing that it is that outward and visible sign of an inward spiritual grace that can and will let the light of Christ shine in you.
May it lead you to leave this holy place, filled with Christ’s light that is overflowing, not just for yourself but out into the world we are called to serve.
And may you also say this morning, “Thanks be to God.”
1 Sellery, David E., This Week’s Focus, An email publication. 7/13/2015.