A reflection for the 8th August 2021
Tenth Sunday after Trinity 2021
Offered for Sunday 8th August 2021
'Tenth Sunday after Trinity 2021'
Compiled 7th August 2021
According to a survey, Britain's favourite feel-good food
is toast. No wonder, then, 99% of British households buy bread, with the
equivalent of nearly twelve million loaves sold each day.
Throughout the world, bread is eaten by people of almost every race,
culture and religion. It supports physical health, providing over
ten per cent of an adult's iron, zinc and B vitamins, twenty per cent
of fibre intake, as well as energy-giving starch.
But bread is more than simply food.
Across many cultures, breaking bread is seen as a sign of peace.
In Russia it's a symbol of welcome, while Scandinavian tradition holds
that a boy and girl eating from the same loaf are bound to fall in love.
Bread has a religious connotation also.
Hot cross buns commemorate Good Friday, while Greek Easter breads are
set with eggs dyed red to denote the blood of Christ.
Bread can signify power.
In medieval France bakers loaned it out as a form of currency and credit.
King Louis IV said: "He who controls a nation's bread is a greater ruler
than he who controls their souls."
Bread-making goes back centuries.
The ancient Egyptians are believed to have invented the first
grinding stone, around eight thousand years before the birth of Christ.
They also used bread as currency.
The pyramid builders were paid in loaves and beer.
The first appearance of bread in the archaeological record may be
as long ago as thirty thousand years, when starchy grains and roots
were ground on primitive stones; or hand grinders; before being cooked
on rocks heated in the fire.
With the introduction of domesticated cereals; wheat and barley;
in Mesopotamia some ten thousand years ago, something that we might
recognise as bread was created.
Grain was ground and made into a paste with water.
This paste was then cooked on hot stones to make flatbreads.
Leavening - the process by which bread dough is made fluffy and
increase in volume; was initially the result of wild airborne yeasts
colonising the grain paste, and feeding on the starches in a process
To make the results a little more reliable, some of the precious batch
of dough, with its yeasts, was introduced to the next batch, a process
which we still use today in sourdough.
By 500 BC the commercial production of yeast had been perfected
and a wide range of breads was being produced throughout the
Mediterranean, the Middle East,? and beyond, both at home and by
Bread, especially wheat bread, had become the staple of the human diet
across much of the world, and remains so to this day.
It was and is the very stuff of life.
Let us Pray
The sun rises and it is light;
Night falls and it is dark;
Sow the seed and cut the corn;
Bear the child and build the house:
Lay the stone and light the fire;
Cast the net and water the earth;
Serve the guest and pay the price;
nail the wood and pick the flowers;
Make the wine and bake the bread;
Pour the wine and break the bread;
Bless the one who gives the life.
For he is 'The Bread of Life'. Amen.
Our reading for today is John 6 v 35ff but earlier in this
chapter Jesus fed the five thousand, miraculously providing such
an abundance of bread the leftovers filled twelve baskets.
When the people come to him afterwards, Jesus accuses them of having
been converted only because they had eaten their fill of the loaves.
But those who have heard his claim, to be sent by God to be the bread
that gives eternal life, are unable to see past the fact that he is
a local boy, whose parents they know.
How can he be sent by God?
Jesus is unequivocal; he claims to have seen God, a unique experience,
because he has come down from heaven to bring to humanity bread that
is not only life-giving, but brings eternal life.
Jesus was using a picture which each of his listeners would have
understood completely; just as their lives depend on the sustenance
provided by bread, so their eternal life depends on the sustenance
provided by the bread of life sent from God in Jesus.
The account of the Last Supper later in John's Gospel doesn't contain
the details which are in the other three Gospels, and on which the
words of institution at the Communion are based.
There is no equivalent of "Take, eat; this is my body" as recorded in
Matthew 26:26. Yet the same idea is encapsulated in Jesus' words
when he says: "the bread that I will give for the life of the world
is my flesh".?
The need for food is a profound imperative in the lives of all humans.
To live, we must eat. But, as Jesus taught in Matthew 4:4
"one does not live by bread alone", human life is more than simply
bread and biology. To "have life, and have it abundantly", John 10:10,
we need nourishment that is spiritual as well as physical.
If we say we believe in Jesus, and he is the bread of life sent by
the Father, then we have certain responsibilities.
Obviously we must ensure we, and all people, have enough food to
sustain physical life.
In a world where production exceeds demand it's an offence to God's
abundance people still go hungry, while some have more than
they could ever need. To waste food which the land has given and
human hands have made is a blasphemy against God's creation.
But also, we must be mindful of the need to feed our souls,
as well as our bodies, with the word of God, fellowship and the
sharing of the Bread and Wine.
The celebration of Communion, instituted by Jesus, reminds us,
not only of his sacrifice but the need to feed on his presence,
love, grace in both body and soul, for he said 'I am the Bread of Life'.
Bread has been a staple of human life
for tens of thousands of years.
Jesus tells us that he is the bread of life; eternal life.
The bread of Communion reminds us who gives us
the bread of eternal life.
It is our responsibility both to ensure that people
do not go physically hungry,
but also ensure our souls are fed
through fellowship and his Holy Word.
May the bread of life sustain you,
may you truly know the Father through the Son,
may the great "I am" guide you in all things,
and the blessing of God almighty .....