Reflection – 01 August 2021

Here’s Martin’s reflection for Sunday 01 August.

If you’d like to join in our online worship follow this Zoom link. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85061262911?pwd=SjFoODcvOVdFZUhTengxRVRkNzJPUT09

Our worship session starts at 11.00 British Summer Time.

We are delighted that for the first time in 2021 the church building is open for worship too. The Zoom service will also be run from the church building.

Mark

London Road Congregational Church Reflection 1/8

‘Why do you always make a meal of things?’

Call to Worship (from John 6:35)

Jesus said “I am the bread of life,

“Whoever comes to me will never be hungry.”

Whoever comes to Christ will never be thirsty.

“Lord, give us this bread always.”

May we come to God with hungry hearts.

May we come to God with thirsty souls.

May we find fulfilment in the body of Christ.

May we worship God, knowing the fulness of God’s love for us.

Let us pray

Father let us have this time together to recognise just who you are what you mean to us. Help us to refocus our lives on you as the source and purpose of all things. Let this time be one of blessing for each other and for you.  We thank you that we can have this time and want to worship you. Amen

Let us say together the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Hymn Bread of Heaven 

Guide me, O thou great Redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
Hold me with thy powerful hand:
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven
Feed me till I want no more.
Feed me till I want no more.

Open thou the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream shall flow;
Let the fiery, cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through:
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer
Be thou still my strength and shield.
Be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side:
Songs of praises, songs of praises
I will ever give to thee.
I will ever give to thee.

Reading

Psalm 78:23-29


23 But he spoke to the sky above    and commanded its doors to open;
24 he gave them grain from heaven,
    by sending down manna for them to eat.
25 So they ate the food of angels,
    and God gave them all they wanted.
26 He also caused the east wind to blow,
    and by his power he stirred up the south wind;
27 and to his people he sent down birds,
    as many as the grains of sand on the shore;
28 they fell in the middle of the camp
    all around the tents.
29 So the people ate and were satisfied;
    God gave them what they wanted.

John 6:24-35

24 When the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they got into those boats and went to Capernaum, looking for him.

25 When the people found Jesus on the other side of the lake, they said to him, “Teacher, when did you get here?”

26 Jesus answered, “I am telling you the truth: you are looking for me because you ate the bread and had all you wanted, not because you understood my miracles. 27 Do not work for food that spoils; instead, work for the food that lasts for eternal life. This is the food which the Son of Man will give you, because God, the Father, has put his mark of approval on him.”

28 So they asked him, “What can we do in order to do what God wants us to do?”

29 Jesus answered, “What God wants you to do is to believe in the one he sent.”

30 They replied, “What miracle will you perform so that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, just as the scripture says, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32 “I am telling you the truth,” Jesus said. “What Moses gave you was not[c] the bread from heaven; it is my Father who gives you the real bread from heaven. 33 For the bread that God gives is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they asked him, “give us this bread always.”

35 “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “Those who come to me will never be hungry; those who believe in me will never be thirsty. 

Reflection

This morning we share the Lord’s Supper together. Known by some as the Eucharist or thanksgiving meal. We have been looking at how the different New Testament writers have had different emphasis, so it seemed sensible to look at their different portrayals of this meal.

Starting with Paul, he is the first to note down a record of what Jesus did and says how what he has received he passes on. 1 Corinthians was written before the Gospels. As we have said Paul and Luke had a Greek audience and mirrored the changing church and the centre of faith.  Matthew and Mark were from the Palestinian tradition. As we read the different depictions of the Lord’s Supper or the many eucharistic meals that Jesus performed, it is easy to miss certain details.

Mark writes about two other thanksgiving meals, the feeding of the five thousand – which is on the Jewish side of the lake, and this is part of a meal, Paul still shows the Lord’s supper as part of a full meal and his focus in on unity, whereas Mark’s telling of the feeding of the four thousand is on the other side of the lake and is for the Gentiles and is no longer part of a meal.

Matthew writes at a time when the Jews had lost their centre of worship and there was a change in circumstance and vulnerability.  As the community broke down and hostilities rose Matthew adds in 26:28 ‘for the forgiveness of sins’ because he saw how the work of Jesus, forgiveness, and healing, were the same thing at that point.

Luke saw what Jesus did both as the Last Supper and a eucharistic meal. The Last supper was an event which Jesus took part in, the eucharist was something we could share now and copy. Luke is also very focused on feeding the Jewish community (Gentiles are mentioned in Acts). For Luke the Last supper is one of ten eucharistic meals where Jesus gave thanks and taught something through the meal.

  1. Great feast at the house of Levi – teaching repentance
  2. The home of Simon the Pharisee – reconciliation
  3. Breaking bread at Bethsaida – the mission of the 5 thousand
  4. The home of Martha – teaching true discipleship
  5. The home of a pharisee – the need for inner purification
  6. A sabbath dinner with a pharisee – the call to the poor and lame
  7. Home of Zacchaeus – emphasising salvation
  8. The Passover meal
  9. Breaking of bread on the road to Emmaus
  10. The community meal in Jerusalem

Luke includes the Passover meal as part of this message. The road to Emmaus is the bridge between the story being told in the life of Jesus and the story being told in the life of the early community.

Finally, for John the Lord’s supper is not just about the death of Jesus but his birth, the Word became flesh, that flesh was broken and the spiritual nature of Jesus as the means of Grace is emphasised.

So when we share this meal this morning, what is it to you today? A reminder that there is a unity between us? that obstacles to us coming to God have been removed? That the meal is much more than a meal but something that repeatedly can speak to us in so many ways? That it is a means of Grace.

Whatever you take from this meal this morning, take, share, be strengthened and then go out and minister having been nourished by the Grace of God.

Hymn Amazing Grace

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
  That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
  Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
  And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
  The hour I first believed!
The Lord hath promised good to me,
  His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
  As long as life endures.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
  Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
  Than when we first begun.

Communion

We remember the stories that Jesus friends tell,
stories of bread broken and shared, feeding a multitude,
stories of being gathered together, enemy and friend, around tables,
stories of unlikely guests revealing the face of the sacred.

They say that that it was on a night of both celebration and betrayal
that he took the bread leftover on the table,
blessed it and broke it;
reminding them that it is in the breaking that we become whole,
in losing our lives that we find them, in serving that we are served.
As the grain scattered becomes one in the loaf,
when we eat this bread, we become one with one another.

They say that he took the cup also leftover on the table, poured out and sharing,
remembering with them, the life-giving breath even now pounding a rhythm through our veins,
the breath of life from whence we come the breath that precedes and follows all that we can see – at the very beginning God breathed life into us, when Jesus breathes his last breath he breathed new life and a hope of new life into the world.
As the grapes find life in the vine, when we drink this cup,
we become at one with the source of life itself.

Blessing:


And so we pray:
Come, holy Spirit, come.
Bless this bread and bless this fruit of the vine.
Bless all of us in our eating and drinking that our eyes might be open,
that we might recognize the risen Christ in our midst,
indeed in one another.
Come, holy Spirit, come.

We eat this bread and remember Jesus’ sacrifice for each of us.

We drink this cup together to remember the price Jesus had to pay.

Prayer of Thanksgiving/Dedication

Holy God, we came to this table
Wanting you to speak, to say something that speaks to where we are
To feed and nourish us
You do meet us here and we thank you that knowingly or unknowingly every encounter with you changes us and makes us more like you.
We thank you, living, loving God.

The blessing

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