In the Sunday lectionary, during Year B (next year) there are three weeks in a row that can be quite challenging for preachers. These are the "Bread of Life" weeks - were for three Sundays in a row Jesus (in John) talks about the Bread of Life and his coming ordeal during Holy Week. We have a portion of those readings today. And even with the experience of having preached on those three Sundays (in a row), I remain challenged and inspired by these verses. There always seems to be something new that pops up.
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." Whoever......hunger is gone forever......thirst is gone forever. For those in this world who live in abject poverty, for those who feel lost and forgotten because of unemployment, for those who grieve over the loss of a loved one, for those who live in loneliness, this promise by Jesus can seem like a thin thread, an almost insubstantial thread upon which to latch hope and faith that life will get better. People who find themselves in life's challenging circumstances need this seemingly insubstantial thread upon which to grasp to pull them through, or hold them steady, or pull them above the waterline that makes breathing, going on, hard.
This thin thread may seem insubstantial, but it is not. This thread is made of the strongest material and is always there for each one of us. It is not hard to hold onto, and being given that support, our vision can clear. This momentary respite can give time to steady ourselves.... it can push the panic, fear, depression, sense of loss, momentarily away, allowing us to see differently.... allowing us the opportunity to re-orient our understanding, breathe in anew... and take another step into the kingdom.
Life's challenges can feel so overwhelming at times, This bread Jesus offers us may at times seem insubstantial and not enough: but it is more than enough, no matter how thin the thread may appear to us. Hang on to that thread which is Jesus' loving hand offering us a different way through.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: Cross No. 8, jfd+