Bread of Life
by the Reverend John Beddingfield

Thoughts for the sermon preached on Wednesday in the Third Week of Easter at the Episcopal Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, New York City.

The Lectionary readings are Psalm 66:1-8; Acts 8:1b-8; John 6:35-40.

I go through cycles of paying attention to what I eat and drink and trying to make more healthy choices. The nutritional advice that makes the most sense to me is the kind that suggests a variety of foods in moderation, with a good look at portion control. There is also the suggestion that we be careful not to take in “empty calories.” In other words, don’t just eat food that is high in calories but has little pay-off nutritionally.

I don’t know about you, but like with my eating, my spiritual intake is too often filled with empty calories. There are things I watch on TV, movies at the theatre and magazines I read that are not necessarily evil or destructive, but they’re not helpful. There are conversations I engage in that are fluff and do nothing to elevate or enlighten. There are people who I’m impressed by, or who by my spending time with, I may be viewed as more impressive, as well—but they do nothing to change or provoke me, nothing to deepen me or challenge me. There are those thoughts, those things, those places that I fill my life with that do nothing to deepen the soul or enliven the heart. In many ways, they are like empty calories.

In today’s Gospel Jesus says “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” In Jesus, (if you’ll pardon the phrase) there are no empty calories. He gives us enough, he gives us all that the Father would give us to provide, to nourish and to sustain. In the example he provides for us—in his words, in his teaching, in his caring, in his sacrifice—there is all we need to keep us full and energized and on the path to glory.

And so, we feed on his words. They guide us and remind us. They sometimes convict us and challenge us. They soothe and comfort us.

We feed on his example. The way that he prayed. The way that he offered healing help to those in need. The way that he spoke truth with love. The way that he sacrificed for others.

We feed on his body and blood. In the mystery of the Eucharist we are fed and sustained. We are reminded of our dependence upon God and of our dependence upon other people and we together received “com-union.”

May we taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are we who trust in God.


© 2006 John Beddingfield

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