Call to worship
Jesus is the bread that came down from Heaven
To feed us, to nurture us and to sustain us.
Whoever eats of this bread will never die,
But have eternal life.
Hymn Together in Song 474 Here in this place
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
You give us so many good things-
Day by day you provide sunshine for warmth and growth
Rain to water the earth and quench our thirst
Food to eat and be satisfied.
Air to breathe
Dark and night to rest in
People to love us and to be loved by us
You give us so many good things –
But the greatest of your gifts
is that you give us a way to come to know you
You give us your own son Jesus,
As bread for the hunger ordinary food won’t satisfy,
As food, not just for today, but for eternity.
As a way for us to live truly in relationship with you.
We confess that we have sinned
We have sinned in the things we have thought, and said and done
We have sinned in the things we have failed to think and say and do.
We have failed to love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
We have grieved you.
We have failed to love our neighbours as ourselves.
We have grieved them and you.
We have harboured grudges
We have resented others
We have spoken about people when we ought to have spoken with them
We have let the sun go down on our anger
When you would have had as forgive.
Forgive us our sins
And give us the grace to forgive those who sin against us.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
Declaration of Forgiveness
Jesus is the bread of heaven, come into the world, for our sake.
So I have confidence to say to you: Our sins are forgiven.
Thanks be to God!
Hymn Together in Song 239 Jesus the Lord said “I am the bread”
John 6:35, 41-51
This is the Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.
Bread – it’s a powerful symbol. For thousands of years, some sort of grain-based food has been a staple in people’s diets all around the world. Every culture recognises bread in some form. Most of us eat some form of bread every day – and sharing a meal with family and friends often involves sharing some form of bread. Even the word “companion” comes from the Latin panis (bread) and cum (with). A companion is literally someone we share bread with. Bread is so much a part of our lives that “bread” and “dough” have become slang terms for money – because money and bread are both basics of survival.
For Jesus’ audience, bread was an important symbol, partly because of the miracle they had been part of when everyone had been fed with only a few loaves. But it also reminded them of the story of the founding of the Israelite nation – where God personally provided the people with manna so they could survive in the desert.
Jesus told them, the bread they really needed was himself. He was the gift from God, like the manna in the desert. He was the thing that they need for their everyday survival – just as we all use bread, for everyday sustenance.
He told them he had come from Heaven. And, not understanding, they complained that he couldn’t have come from Heaven because they knew his parents. (John’s Gospel doesn’t have a birth story, but this passage hints at his origins.) Jesus was talking on one level, and the crowd on another.
Jesus talked about himself as the bread from heaven, and the food that gives eternal life. The bread he would give for the life of the world was his flesh. If we read on beyond this passage, we would have encountered the outraged response of listeners who heard what he said at only a literal level.
We can look back and see the reference to giving his flesh as bread for the life of the world, as a reference to holy communion. (John’s gospel doesn’t give a story of the institution of the sacrament, either, but we can see it clearly reflected here.)
In this Gospel reading, Jesus made a clear statement about who he was, and his purpose. His listeners responded negatively. And Jesus said this is because only those who God called would accept and believe in him.
Belief in Jesus, who has come down from Heaven, is the basis for eternal life. The crowd, who followed Jesus looking for bread, and were offered so much more, were not ready to believe.
Bread sustains life from day to day. But each day we need more. However long we live, our bodies will need food.
Belief in Jesus sustains life in eternity. Just as the crowd was offered what they needed for eternal life, so are we.
Hymn Together in Song 535 I am the bread of life
Prayers of the People
We pray for the church, your holy people,
We pray that throughout the world, we may be one community of faith,
That through us your grace and live might be shown to the whole world.
We pray especially for those of our brothers and sisters who are oppressed, who suffer for their faith,
We pray that they will be strengthened, that they will know the comfort and strength of the presence of your Spirit,
And that through their witness even their oppressors will come to know you.
We pray for a time when all our brothers and sisters in faith will know peace,
A time when they will worship you in freedom,
A time when they will celebrate their faith openly and thankfully, without fear, without danger.
We pray for those of our brothers and sisters with whom we have disagreements
We pray you will give us the grace and understanding to listen to them and hear what they say.
We pray that they will have the grace and understanding to listen to us and hear what we say.
So that together we may discern the truth as you would have us know it.
We pray for those brothers and sisters who have particular concerns at this time,
Those whose needs we know, and those whose needs are known only to you.
We pray that all of your people would know your presence and peace.
In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Passing the Peace
Hymn Together in Song 505 Jesus invites his saints
Service of Holy Communion
Hymn Together in Song 530 Now let us from this table rise