Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Some Rising Thoughts

My son and I have some things in common, one of those being our love of bread (the kind you eat). Even last night at dinner he would be willing to forgo a delicious meal made by his mom for just some more slices of bread. Bread can be for us a meal in itself not just an accompaniment. Some have said that hell smells of burning sulfur, I think heaven will smell like warm fresh-baked bread!

In the sermon text for this coming Sunday (John 4:27-42), we find the Disciples returning to find Jesus having a conversation with a Samaritan woman. They don't question Him about this encounter but they do raise some questions when they call Him to eat some lunch and He replies that He has bread of which they know not. Of course, we discover that Jesus is talking about not physical bread, but of the purpose of His life which is do do the will and work of His Father.

His conversation about bread got me thinking about the other references to bread in the Scriptures, and I began to wonder is there a connection between these references.

So, here I pose the question to you, the readers of this blog. A question for you to ponder, and I pray will draw you closer to the One who is the Bread of heaven. Ponder this with me, if you would:

What is the relationship, if any, between:
Jesus' bread as being the doing of the work and will of the Father.
Jesus being the bread of heaven (John 6:33-59)
Jesus' breaking of the bread at the Passover meal (22:1-38, and others)
Jesus' prayer asking for our daily bread (Matthew 6:9-13)
The consecrated bread of the Temple (Exodus 35:13)

and with this

If Jesus is the Bread of heaven and we are His Body, is there a relationship to us also being bread, and if so, what is that relationship and what would it mean for our daily lives as followers of Jesus, the Lord?
So, there are some thoughts to chew on? I don't know if I have many good answers right now but I hope that some truth will rise. I look forward to some of your musings as well.



Brandon K. Baker said...

I think there is a beautiful symbolism in the breaking of the bread. Jesus seems to be illuminating that fact that unbroken bread is useless. A whole loaf of bread, while beautiful, fails in its purpose if it is not broken and eaten.

When Jesus died on the cross, he broke himself for all of mankind. He made the eternal life giving bread edible for all mankind.

In the same way, as the body of Christ we are called to break ourselves for the benefit of the community. We often attend church and try to seem like sinless, unbroken loaves and while it may be more pleasant to look at, it feeds no one. We must identify with one another in our brokenness so that we may see the common understanding within each other and eat of that life giving bread.

Looking forward to your thoughts Pastor Randy!

(PS - Those were some bad puns you threw put there at the end :) )

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with what Brandon has written and it is also beautifully written, I might add.

Here's my usually lengthy babbling.
While we should not use God’s grace for license, neither should we try to convince ourselves or the world that we have our act totally together.

Being a Christin requires a deep humility. But contrary to the popular opinion that humble people have low self-esteem, Christians should not have self-esteem at all (having died to self). Since Christ lives in us, we know that God no longer sees us in our sinful, less than perfect state. He sees Christ’s perfection when he looks at us.

When I found that out, (and still I have to keep reminding myself), it was a tremendous relief because no matter how hard we try to achieve perfection, we will always fall short yet deep inside each and every human being there is some kind of God consciousness that knows that nothing less than perfection is acceptable.

To try to build up our own self esteem is an exercise of futility. We usually end up either adopting a pompous attitude (a defense) and focus on everyone else’s shortcomings so we don’t have to look at our own shortcomings, or we hang our head in shame and walk through life feeling like worms hungering for righteousness.

But when we depend upon his holiness by believing in him and imitating his example, we are nourished by Him (the bread of life) and filled with his Holy Spirit so we have a deep inner peace and contentment (just as Christ felt fulfilled carrying out God’s will for him).

To rely upon our own righteousness no matter how good we are will leave us feeling a spiritual gnawing hunger inside which we may or may not realize is a desperate need to “measure up” to the standard of perfection we know God demands.

So we rely upon His vicarious sacrifice to fulfill us spiritually just as we would rely upon bread to satisfy our hunger, nourish our bodies and give us life thus when we pray for our daily bread, we need to realize that we are praying for God to feed our spiritual hunger as well as our physical hunger.

Consecrated bread to me means that we are not to join the world which would be the equivalent of eating spoiled bread or bread that really is not fit for Chrisian consumption. While we are not to judge the world, but instead offer the gospel to the world (offer them the bread of life), we are not to join the world or live like the world any more than we would eat something that is a known carcinogen.


Pastor Randy said...

Brandon and gentledove,

Great thoughts, both of you. As I grow older, physically and spiritually, I find there is so much more depth to the life of the Christian.

As some wise old wag once said, "Things are not as they first seem."

I have always enjoyed bread, as a kid it was white Wonder Bread, but as I have grown I have learned to love the great varieties of bread available to us. There is so much texture and flavor to be enjoyed. And such is the Bread of heaven.

Anonymous said...

I think when Jesus broke the loaf of bread at the Passover meal and distributed it to his disciples saying, “This is my body, broken for you,” it was a demonstration, figuratively, of the transformation that was to occur following his resurrection and ascension. This is how I view what happened:

1 – The complete loaf was broken in pieces and distributed amongst his disciples.
2 – Once each disciple had eaten his share, the loaf – visually – had disappeared from the room.
3 – But the whole loaf was still in the room, a little inside each disciple.
4 – This is a parallel to what is going on today. Jesus physically has left the world, but his entire Body is present still (a little piece in each disciple).

When we celebrate the Eucharist each month this point is not covered by those presenting the explanation beforehand, at least not when I’ve been in attendance. I think it should be covered because our taking a piece of soda cracker from a tray-full – although it is meaningful - isn’t self explanatory of the bigger picture of “This is my body, broken [redistributed] for you.”

This is my opinion. Hope it is helpful. Gary

Anonymous said...

I too am an avid fan of bread !! My favorites are yeast rolls, rich dark "Squaw" bread, or a multigrain bread. Bread has been called the "staff of life". Some have survived on nothing more than bread and water...for sometime. Bread provides nourishment...depending on the ingredients...some is more nourishing than others. Mid-eastern "bread" is what we westerners call "flatbread"...there is no yeast...and to my palate is not NEARLY as inviting in looks, smell or taste as is our western varieties.

I love the picture of Jesus as the bread of Heaven. Just as bread is nourishing to the physical body and we generally eat it daily....so is Jesus our daily nourishment to our spiritual lives. WE can live on the BREAD of HEAVEN and the LIVING WATER !!

As has been mentioned previously..because we partake of the BREAD of HEAVEN who was broken for us...we have "nourishment" to offer others in need of it. As our "intake" of bread is daily....so should our "output" of bread ( ie nourishment)to others be daily .

I'm not sure where the yeast that is often portrayed in Scripture as sin....comes into this analogy of bread. I will leave that to the experts.

Pastor...are you bringing freshly baked bread to church Sunday to share???? Yum!!