|Pentecost 21, Year B||October 17, 2021||Pentecost 21, Proper 24, Year B 2021||Psalm 91:9-16|
|Pentecost 20, Year B||October 10, 2021||Pentecost 20, Proper 23, Year B||Amos 5:6-7.10-15. Psalm 90:12-17, Hebrews 4:12-16, Mark 10:17-31|
|Pentecost 19, Year B, Season of Creation 5||October 3, 2021||Feast of St Francis, Pentecost 19, Year B||Jeremiah 22:13-16, Matthew 11:25-30|
|Pentecost 18, Year B, Season of Creation 4||September 26, 2021||Pentecost 18, Year B, Season of Creation 4||Numbers 11:4-6,10-16,24-29; Mark 9:38-50|
|Pentecost 17, Year B, Season of Creation 3||September 19, 2021||Pentecost 17, Proper 20, Year B, Season of Creation 3||Psalm 54, Mark 9:30-37|
|Pentecost 16, Year B, Season of Creation 2||September 12, 2021||Pentecost 16, Year B, Season of Creation II||Mark 8:27-38|
|Pentecost 15, Year B, Season of Creation 1||September 5, 2021||Proper 18, Year B Season of Creation 2021||Isaiah 35:4-7a, Psalm 146, James 2:1-10, 14-17, Mark 7:24-37|
|Pentecost 13 B – Rev. Amy Turner||August 22, 2021||Pentecost 13, Proper 16||John 6:56-69|
|➤Pentecost 12, Year B||August 15, 2021||Proper 15, Pentecost 12, Year B||John 6:51-58|
|Pentecost 11, Year B||August 8, 2021||Pentecost 11, Proper 14, Year B||John 6:35,41-51|
|Pentecost 10, Year B – Rev. Bambi Willis||August 1, 2021||Pentecost 10, Proper 13, Year B||John 6:24-35|
|Pentecost 9, Year B||July 25, 2021||Proper 12, Pentecost 9, Year B||2 Kings 4:42-44; Ephesians 3:14-21; John 6:1-21|
|Pentecost 8, Year B||July 18, 2021||Proper 11, Pentecost 8, Year B 2021||Psalm 23, Jeremiah 23:1-6, Mark 6:30-34|
|Pentecost 7, Year B||July 11, 2021||Proper 10, 7th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B||Amos 7:7-15, Psalm 85, Ephesians 1:3-14, 2: 11-22, Mark 6:14-29|
|Pentecost 6, Year B||July 4, 2021||Pentecost 6, Proper 9||2 Corinthians 12:2-10; Mark 6:1-13|
Pentecost 12, Year B
Sermon Date:August 15, 2021
Scripture: John 6:51-58
Liturgy Calendar: Proper 15, Pentecost 12, Year B
Late one night, a driver falls asleep at the wheel, runs off the road, and hits a tree. The car flips. The driver, seriously injured, sustains terrible injuries, loses lots of blood, and is near death when the ambulance arrives.
The only way this person is going to survive is to be put on life support. Nutrition will drip into the veins, oxygen will be forced into the lungs through tubes, and blood transfusions will replace the blood that drained out of the person at the scene of the accident, a loss that nearly caused the person’s death.
Sooner or later, each one of us may find ourselves in this fix. We are cruising down that proverbial highway of life, everything seems fine with our journeys and then, suddenly, boom, something happens that is so awful that we find that our faith in God suddenly needs to be put on life support if it is to stay alive.
Or perhaps the journey just gets wearisome. Being tired, we end up falling asleep, and an accident occurs due to our inattention. As a result, our neglected faith is near death, so we need a radical intervention to stay alive.
Jesus knew about the difficulties that we will find ourselves in at some point in our lives.
Earlier in Chapter 6 of John’s gospel, after the feeding of the five thousand, the disciples had gotten into a boat and headed across the Sea of Galilee to get back to Capernaum. But a strong wind came up and they were having trouble making any headway. Jesus comes to them across the water, and says to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.”
Fear can cause our faith in God to falter or even to die. So Jesus reminds us that even as we face the worst things in life, Jesus is with us and so we do not need to be afraid.
Back in Capernaum, Jesus tells the crowds, who have followed him, and are hoping to be fed again, that the bread that they ate when he fed them earlier was for physical sustenance, but that what they really need is food that endures for eternal life. And when they want to know more, Jesus says that they are to believe in him whom God has sent—that their work, the work that will provide for all that they need, is to have faith in him.
And then Jesus gets right to the point. “I am the bread of life,” Jesus says.
The people don’t understand what Jesus means. In fact, they begin to murmur among themselves about this audacious claim being made by this son of a carpenter, whose family they all know. They don’t believe what Jesus is telling them. They don’t recognize that he is the one sent from God to bring them new life.
They doubt. And doubt, like fear, can put our faith in jeopardy or even kill our faith.
And so that is why Jesus says to the people, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you…my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them….whoever eats me will live because of me.”
When the fears and the doubts that life inevitably brings threaten to kill us, Jesus is life support for our faith. Jesus is the nutrition, the breath of life, and the blood transfusion that will save us, even when we doubt, even when we get angry with God, even when we are about to decide that we have no need of God after all.
But remember, the life support that Jesus offers guarantees new life. We already know this in our physical beings.
In fact, all of us start our lives as human beings on life support.
Our lives begin in the wombs of our mothers. For nine months, we abide in this safe place. The nutrition, oxygen, and life support we need from our mothers’ blood goes from the placenta through the umbilical cord, that miraculous bundle of life-giving blood vessels which connects us to our mothers.
The placenta and the umbilical cord give us life by allowing us to receive life through our mother’s blood as we grow in the womb.
To abide in Jesus and to “drink” his blood connects us to Jesus in this same life giving way.
When we abide in Jesus, when we are connected to him, Jesus gives us new life, and this gift of divine life helps us to be born again, over and over, even in the face of all the fears and doubts and death dealing things that accost us in this life.
Through Jesus we constantly receive new life as we abide within the body of God, receiving a continual transfusion of God’s love.
Jesus describes this continual transfusion of love when he says that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood.
When we celebrate the Holy Eucharist each week and receive the body and blood of Christ in the bread and wine, we receive a transfusion of God’s love and the new life that God’s love brings, the new life that will stretch into eternity.
But we must remember, ultimately, this life support is optional.
God’s love is always flowing. But the choice of whether or not we are going to receive that love is ours, not God’s.
When a person in danger of dying is brought to the hospital in need of life support, someone is going to have to decide what to do.
Maybe the patient made a decision a while back, saying that he or she would want life support if the outcome would be that ultimately, he or she could regain a good quality of life with the help of life support.
Or maybe the person would have said no, if I need life support, just let me go, and so life support is withheld due to the patient’s wishes.
Sometimes the family has to decide whether or not to put their loved one on life support if the patient hasn’t given them any previous guidance.
In our spiritual lives, we may find ourselves standing on the brink of spiritual death, when fear and doubt seem to be pushing us over the edge to our deaths.
We must consider at this point what God wants for us.
God wants us to live. That’s why God sent his Son, our life support!
God wants us to choose the life support that Jesus offers us.
If we Christians are even half way paying attention, we know that God wants us to live.
This knowledge makes us want to come together each week to receive a life giving transfusion of God’s love and to make the intentional choice to do so.
To choose the practice of coming to God’s table, week after week, is to accept the fact that we need God’s life giving love, that we need the body and blood of Jesus to stay alive. Being present to receive this transfusion of love keeps us alive.
And this love of God, constantly and consistently received, will bring us new life and new birth again and again, new life that ultimately stretches into eternity and brings us at last to eternal life.
We find that we are abiding ever more surely in Jesus, and that we are receiving his ongoing nutrients of love continually, growing continually into new life. We find ourselves more easily making life giving choices instead of the deathly choices that our fear and doubts have urged us to choose.
God’s love pouring into us casts out our fear and doubt and makes room for more love and for more perfect love in us, God’s perfect love that we then want to share with others, having not only the desire but the strength to love one another as God has loved us.
We can become life support for those around us who are in danger or fear or doubt or sorrow or in any kind of death dealing trouble. We do this by sharing the same love of God that we ourselves have received through the life giving transfusions that abiding in Jesus provides for us. We find ourselves abiding in love with one another.
No wonder we call the prayer at the Eucharist the Great Thanksgiving. In thanksgiving, we join our voices with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven to praise God and give God the glory.
And then we give thanks for the innumerable gifts of God, the greatest gift of all being Jesus, our body and blood, who is our life giving transfusion of love.
Jesus offers his very body for the health of our own bodies, as a mother offers life through her own blood to her infant in the womb.
Through Jesus, we can be born into new life again and again as we abide in him. We pray for the Holy Spirit to unite us to Jesus and to one another.
And then we, the people of God, receive the gifts of God.
Our closing prayer at the end of our celebration of Eucharist sums up all I’ve said in just a few short sentences.
By choosing to receive the life support that Jesus offers, we have become living members of Jesus, that is, we abide in Jesus.
We give thanks for receiving the ongoing transfusion of God’s love in the reception of the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
And now, we can go into the world in peace, knowing that God will grant us the strength and the courage to love and to serve God with gladness and singleness of heart, a singleness of heart that binds us in love and service to God and to one another.