|Pentecost 21, Year B||October 18, 2015||Proper 24, Year B||Isaiah 53:4-12, Mark 10:35-45|
|The Feast of St Francis||October 4, 2015||The Feast of St Francis||Matthew 11:25-30|
|Pentecost 18, Year B||September 27, 2015||Proper 21, Year B||James 5:13-20|
|Pentecost 17, Year B||September 20, 2015||Proper 20, Year B||Wisdom of Solomon 1:16-2:1, 12-22, Psalm 54, James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a, Mark 9:30-37|
|Pentecost 16, Year B and Baptism||September 13, 2015||Proper 19, 2015||Mark 8:27-38, Psalm 116:1-8|
|Pentecost 15, Year B||September 6, 2015||Proper 18, Year B||Isaiah 35:4-7a, Ps 146, James 2:1-17, Mark 7:24-37|
|Pentecost 12, Year B, Jonathan Myrick Daniels Commemoration||August 16, 2015||Pentecost 12, Proper 15||Proverbs 4:20-27, Psalm 85:7-13, Galatians 3:22-28, Luke 1:46-55|
|Pentecost 11, Year B||August 9, 2015||Proper 14, Year B||Ephesians 4:25-5:2|
|➤Pentecost 10, Year B||August 2, 2015||Proper 13, Year B||Ephesians 4:-16, John 6:24-35|
|Pentecost 8, Year B||July 19, 2015||Proper 11, Year B||Psalm 23, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56|
|Pentecost 7, Year B||July 12, 2015||Pentecost 7, Year B||Ephesians 1:3-14|
|Pentecost 6, Year B||July 5, 2015||Proper 9, Year B||Ezekiel 2:1-5, 2 Corinthians 13:3-10, Mark 6:1-13|
|Pentecost 5, Year B||June 28, 2015||Proper 8, Year B||Mark 5:21-43, Psalm 30|
|Pentecost 4, Year B||June 21, 2015||Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 7, Year B||2 Corinthians 6:1-13, Mark 4:35-41|
|Pentecost 3, Year B||June 14, 2015||The Third Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 6||2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17; Mark 4:26-34|
Pentecost 10, Year B
Sermon Date:August 2, 2015
Scripture: Ephesians 4:-16, John 6:24-35
Liturgy Calendar: Proper 13, Year B
" Braided Bread "
The street lights let off a dim glow that barely penetrated the darkness in Kaunakakai, a small town on the island of Molokai.
My daughter Catherine and I had decided to trust our guide book, and so we walked down the main street in this rather murky light and made our way toward a creepy dark alley.
I was glad not to be alone.
We turned down the alley, and headed toward the faint glow from another alley up ahead on our left.
This alley had to be it. We hesitantly entered. Other people were there, sitting and standing in the gloom.
But these people all seemed cheerfully expectant, and so, overcoming our hesitation, we walked to the end, with the watchful eyes of the islanders following us, turned left and there it was—
The bread window.
We got in line and took in deep breaths of that wonderful smell of bread baking.
Kanemitsu’s Bakery has been making this bread at night for years—bread so good that the islanders routinely come here to get this bread so divine that people from halfway across the world, like Catherine and me, seek it out as something we did NOT want to miss on our trip to Hawaii.
This bakery makes large loaves of fresh bread six nights a week. When the bread comes out of the oven, the baker cuts those loaves down the middle and slathers the bread with an assortment of fillings. The sign at the window listed the fillings and noted that the favorite combination is cream cheese and strawberry jam.
The big news among the people in line that night was that the bakery had just run out of cream cheese. One woman there said she had already heard this news at the Food Mart.
Word travels fast in small towns.
Some people had suggestions—why don’t they go to the Food Mart and just get some cream cheese? But the Food Mart was getting ready to close, and everyone knew that until the barge loaded with supplies came in, the hungry people seeking bread would have to do without the cream cheese.
We were disappointed too—but not THAT disappointed, because we had already decided on cinnamon and cream cheese. Cinnamon and butter would also be fantastic, so when it was our turn, that’s what we ordered.
Over the next twenty minutes as we waited for the next batch of bread to finish baking, we watched an assortment of people of all ages (and we were the only tourists there at the moment) carry away bags and bags of this heavenly smelling bread. And without fail, every one of them left with huge smiles on their faces, even without the cream cheese.
At last our bread was ready. The woman at the little window handed it to me. It was steaming hot, and the heat and that fantastic newly baked yeast bread smell came right through the plastic bag. We headed back down the alley to the car and hurried back to our condo, and dug right in.
People, I’m talking about heaven here!
This yeast bread had an excellent heft, and yet it was light and fluffy. The texture had just the right amount of body—chewy and yet it practically melted in our mouths. It pulled apart as only yeast bread does, in chunks dripping with the butter and cinnamon. So delectable, that even plain it would have been amazingly delicious—I’m not ashamed to admit that we almost devoured the whole loaf then and there. Finally we couldn’t eat any more of it, and so we finished it for breakfast. And it was almost as good the next morning as it had been the night before.
Those of you who came to the Feasting with Jesus program we had a few years ago during Lent learned that for the people of Jesus’ time, bread was essential for life. As long as a family had bread, they could survive. Bread was the most important food they had. Meat was only for the most special of occasions. Produce came and went according to the season. But bread—bread, and sometimes only bread, was always on the table—not a luxury, but a necessity for life.
And so when Jesus says that he is the bread of life, he is saying that he himself is a necessity for life—because it is having Jesus with us and in us that satisfies our every longing in this lifetime, even when we’re physically hungry or thirsty or worried or depressed.
And having Jesus with us and in us gives us hope for fulfillment and satisfaction in the world to come.
So we come together, week after week, to enter into the presence of our Lord and Savior by joining around the table, to bless the bread, to break and to share the bread, and to eat this bread.
This bread, the bread that we will bless and break today, fills us with God’s power—that power that working in us does more than we could ever ask or imagine. This bread fills us with God’s peace, the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that is with us even when our lives are in turmoil.
This bread is necessary for our lives as Christians–
to take Jesus into ourselves, so that we become one with him and with one another, not just those of us who are here, but one with people all over the world who are breaking and sharing bread in His name–
and one with all of those who have gone before us, those with whom we have shared this bread around this altar in their time on this earth.
Although she will never kneel in her usual spot over there on the left side of the altar and hold out her hands again, and in the last times she came, Dave had to guide her through what to do after she took the bread—to hold it so she could dip it in the wine, because her instinct was to eat it as soon as she had it in her hands—Dutchy is now with us every Sunday, one of that great throng of the communion of saints that invisibly gathers around us and blesses us as we come together to eat this bread and to drink this wine.
So there’s power in this bread.
Every Sunday I hold this bread. We bless it.
And then comes that awful moment.
This beautiful work of art, this bread, has to be broken apart, because unless it’s broken, it’s only a loaf of bread that we can’t receive for ourselves or share with one another.
The terrible and wonderful thing about being Christian is that we know in every fiber of our bodies this very fact–that Jesus had to be broken to be shared, that the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus, who appeared to the disciples with the scars of his horrible death still on his body—Jesus had to be broken to become the food that nourishes the world forever and into eternity. Jesus, in the process of being broken on the cross, became for us the bread of new and unending life in him, as the prayer book likes to say.
Jesus is the bread that nourishes us and saves us from hunger and thirst, the bread that is necessary for fullness of life.
And so every Sunday I break this bread apart, tearing it into pieces.
This is a miracle that we experience every Sunday—this bread and bread all over the world becoming fragments of bread, broken and torn apart and placed into hands reaching out all over the world.
This is the bread that helps us to grow into the body of love that is joined and knit together in love, the bread that helps us to grow into and take our places within the very body of God so that we can go out and be bread for those around us.
Queen Lili’uokalani, the last sovereign of Hawaii, was an Anglican, whose faith sustained her even as she was placed under house arrest for leading a revolt against the people who had taken her power and her country’s independence away.
In 1917, during her exile, she wrote these words.
“To gain the kingdom of heaven is to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable- that is Aloha. All things in this world are two; in heaven there is but One."
In the sound of this bread being broken apart, broken for each one of us, and broken for the world, we can hear all of those things that are not said. We can hear the breath of God breathing peace, love and compassion into our lives so that we can breathe that same love into the world, and never grow tired or hungry or thirsty no matter how tired or thirsty or hungry we get.
In this bread we can see what cannot be seen—God’s love and God’s power held in our very hands so that our hands can reach out in love to the world, even when we are physically hungry ourselves.
And in this bread we know the unknowable—God with us, God uniting us, God filling us—this love and power waiting to fill us so that we can do more for God’s glory on this earth than we could ever ask or imagine.
“To know the unknowable—that is aloha,” the peace that passes all understanding.
That is aloha, God’s love, breathed out, and spoken and carried out into the world, the love that makes us One with God and with one another.
And Jesus himself is this plain and simple unadorned bread, the kingdom of heaven here and now, in our hands.
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
And may God bless each one of us with the hunger and the thirst and the longing for Jesus so deep and so passionate that we will never tire of seeking for Him and following after Him all the days of our lives.