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BREAD OF LIFE
August 15, 2003
 
Friday's eMo is a meditation on one or more lectionary texts for the upcoming Sunday. As with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attribution. No further permission is necessary.

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"Bread of Life" is a relatively new one, one that arose out of the charismatic renewal movement in the 1960's. Do you know it?

I am the bread of life
They who come to me shall not hunger,
They who believe in me shall not thirst,
No one can come to me,
Unless the Father bring them.
And I will raise them up,
And I will raise them up,
And I will raise them up
On the last day.


It's used at many funerals, and in many churches in Eastertide. It's in the Holy Eucharist section of the Episcopal Hymnal though it's a communion hymn. Something about the refrain makes many people lift their arms toward heaven - even people whose arms remain firmly at their sides at all other liturgical times! The hope in it is palpable. Physical. Completely trusting: it is as if we were children again. "Pick me up!" we beg our Father. "Mommy, pick me up!" and up we go.

I have friends, though, who find themselves pausing during some of the verses, and some friends who just leave this on out: Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink of his blood, you shall not have life within you. It is a quotation from the gospel reading for this Sunday.

Meaning what? That people who don't take communion won't go to heaven? That non-Christian have no hope of eternal life? That the life of Christ is not for everyone, only for those who are observant in a certain kind of worship?

I suspect that the bread of life and the blood of Christ, present for us in the consecrated elements of bread and wine, are not to be understood only in terms of celebrations of the Holy Eucharist. This passage from the sixth chapter of John's gospel isn't just about going to church and taking communion. Hundreds of years before the gospel was written, thousands of years before the song was written, the nameless writer/editor of proverbs talked of the bread and wine of Wisdom: "come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave simpleness and live, and walk in the way of insight."

Take it within you. Drink deeply of the Spirit of God, and fill yourself with the living presence of God, so that God is actually in you, as bread is in you when you eat it. Fill your life with it. Let your spirit be so open to God that you find God everywhere, within you and without you. You carry God with you when you leave this place, wherever you go. Be Christ for those who meet you in the week to come.
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