Living Bread

12 August 2018 – Lectionary 19, Proper 14


St. Augustine preached in sermon 272: “Be what you can see, receive what you are. If you are his body and members of him, then you will find set on the Lord’s table your own mystery.” While Augustine was speaking on the occasion of the Eucharist, there is something in that sermon for us. What our text tells us, what Jesus tells us, and what the bread embodies so vividly and tangibly is that we, the members of Christ’s body, must begin to be Christ’s flesh, Christ’s visible presence in the world, to one another, to all. –– Neal D. Presa

John 6: 35, 41-51

The lectionary begins with verse 35 to connect the following story in verses 41–51 to the series of “bread of life” texts during these five weeks’ readings. Rudolf Bultmann regards the “I am” saying in 6:35 and elsewhere in John as a “recognition formula”’ answering the question “Are you the one?” assuming that there are others claiming the role. . . It ends with what will shown through the cross and resurrection. . .

The manna of former days is not the bread that gives eternal life. As D. Moody Smith noted, “There is, obviously, a fundamental distinction. The bread that Jesus brings, and is, sets him apart” (John [Nashville: Abingdon, 1999], 157). –– Sara Webb Phillips

1 Kings 19:4-8

Because Elijah has defeated the prophets of Baal, he now flees from Queen Jezebel. Being near death, an angel descends from heaven to bring him miraculous food. He then goes to Mt. Sinai to receive the word of God.

Pairing this selection with the Gospel text sets up a connection of prophet-food-word. This image calls us to hope in the word of God, the food that sustains us. –– Sara Webb Phillips

Ephesians 4:25––5:2

Today’s lesson from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is a stained-glass letter of spiritual advice for Christian living. The first three chapters concern themselves with wide-angled lofty theological speculation on the cosmic nature of Christ. As chapter 4 begins, Paul shifts his gaze to the incarnated body of Christ—the church. Paul proclaims diversity within the church itself. However, this diversity is possible only with a commitment of obedience to the person and mission of Christ.

Let all speak the truth to our neighbors (25) Do not let the sun go down on your anger (26) Work honestly so as to have something to share with the needy (28) Let no evil talk come out of your mouths (29)

Such advice refers to . . . the people of God as reflectors of the light of God in a world of darkness. Like mirrors, we reflect the point of light away from us, so that it benefits others. The physic’s principal is that light bounces off and produces the image that is reflected. Paul hints at this function when he calls on us to “be imitators of God, as beloved children and live in love, as Christ loved us” (5:1–20). –– Sara Webb Phillips


Sara Webb Phillips is a United Methodist minister serving North Springs UMC in Sandy Springs, Georgia.

Homily Service 42, no. 3 (2009): 111-120

David Turnbloom