Pentecost 11, Aug. 5, 2018

Title:Pentecost 11, Aug. 5, 2018

 Pentecost 11, Aug. 5, 2018 (full size gallery)

This weekend is the Va. Sales tax holiday. As part of the Village Harvest on Aug 15, we are collecting school supplies. The entire school list is here.

Catherine flew to Antigua, Guatemala for her language immersion on Sunday. Antiqua is in the highlands over 5,000 in elevation. Founded in 1527, it was a colonial capital until 1773 when an earthquake demolished it. A new capital was built 30 miles away which is now Guatemala City. It has recovered in the last century as a museum of Spanish colonial history with its many ruins but remains within 10 miles of a major volcano.

At St. Peter’s, Rev. Tom Hays preached and celebrated. Eunice’s birthday was celebrated.

This week is the celebration of the Transfiguration on Aug 6. It is the day that Jesus reveals that is the Messiah to Peter, James, and John. Moses and Elijah were present, and are taken to signify that the Law and the Prophets testify that Jesus is the promised Messiah. The departure leads to Jesus suffering and death. The future is revealed to the disciples but they don’t understand. The new exodus is accomplished through Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. Jesus’ glory is his own not a reflected glory as Moses’ was.

Today’s readings portray God as our ultimate provider and sustainer of both our physical and spiritual lives. In Exodus (Track 2), God feeds the people of Israel with quail and manna. Paul reminds his community that they must put away their old way of life and be renewed in Christ. In anticipation of his eucharistic gift of himself, Jesus declares that he is the bread of life.

The Exodus reading recounts one of the many instances of the people’s murmuring during the time of the exodus as the Israelites demand that God live up to the divine demands of covenant partnership. As their God, Yahweh must demonstrate that he can provide and protect them as a household leader or father was required to do.

As their wilderness trip becomes more extended. The Israelites long for the meat and bread they ate in Egypt. God responds by providing for them both flesh and bread, but on God’s own terms, one day at a time. Thus God provided for them but at the same time tested their faith.

God acts, saying: “You shall know that I am the Lord your God.” This statement of recognition occurs in the priestly writings (Exodus 7:5), in Isaiah (45:3, 6) and in Ezekiel (7:27, 11:10). God’s actions disclose, to believer and unbeliever alike, the Lord of our world and life. God provides from nature’s bounty for the Israelites, reliably supplying the needs of an unreliable people.

Psalm 78 is a long recital of the story of Israel’s relationship with God. After the introduction (vv. 1-11), the psalmist recounts the wilderness experience (vv. 12-39) and the journey from Egypt to the land. The pattern of history involves God’s gracious action (vv. 12-16), the people’s rebellion (vv. 17-20), God’s punishment (21-31) and forgiveness (vv.32-39). It encourages the audience to learn the lessons from their history and respond more appropriately to God’s choice of them as covenant partners.

The passage from Ephesians, the Epistle, examines the basis for the new life of the Gentile converts, contrasting it with their former lives. Their new life is not a result of their own discoveries and efforts but originates from God. It is the new life God recreates, through Jesus, in the Christian.

The passage is very similar to Colossians 3:1-17 and may have been drawn from the pre-baptismal instruction of the early Church that led to the renunciation of the “former way of life” and through baptism, as illustrated by putting off one’s clothes and putting on white baptismal robes. The convert is thus part of the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) of the body of Christ, which includes both Jews and Gentiles. He or she is “created according to the likeness of God” (v. 24) exhibiting right relationships and holiness, which are distinctively divine characteristics. And this incorporation into Christ will always demand specific behavioral consequences.

The Gospel from John is the preface to the bread of life discourse which will occupy several weeks. It is a portion of the teaching of Jesus which appears in the Gospel of John 6:22-59 and was delivered in the synagogue at Capernaum. This comes after the Feeding of the 5000 and Jesus Walking on the Water

John’s Gospel does not include an account of the blessing of the bread during the Last Supper as in the synoptic gospels e.g. Luke 22:19. Nonetheless, this discourse has often been interpreted as communicating teachings regarding the Eucharist that have been very influential in the Christian tradition.

It illustrates John’s favorite ways of shaping a dialogue. One is the use of misunderstanding; another is that a question asked on one level is answered on a higher level. Set in the synagogue at Capernaum (6:59), this discourse relies on concepts and structures common to rabbinic sermons at the time.

The crowd addresses Jesus as “Rabbi” or teacher, often the first title of respect given to Jesus by strangers (1:38, 3:2). The crowd’s factual question: “When did you come here?” is answered theologically in terms of Jesus’ origin (7:28-29). Jesus here identifies himself as “Son of Man…from heaven” (vv. 27, 33).

Jesus charges the crowd with having responded only to the material meaning of the feeding, not to its spiritual significance. They answer by picking up the theme of works, asking what the works are that God desires them to do (3:21). The reply is that there is only one work that God desires to accomplish in them, obedient trust in Jesus. This is John’s contribution to the faith/works issue: faith is itself a work, the acceptance of God’s work in Jesus.

The crowd requests a sign from him to validate his teaching so that they may “believe” (rather than “believe in”) him. They challenge the prophet-like-Moses (6:14; Deuteronomy 18:15) to produce manna. Jesus answers that their desire has already been fulfilled. Bread was, in rabbinic writings, a symbol of the Torah given to Moses. Jesus’ teaching is the bread they should crave. The bread God gives in the present is “that which comes down from heaven” (v. 33), the revelation of God made personal in the incarnation of Jesus. God’s bread is not food for the body but life to the world.

Verse 35 is the first of the many “I am” statements in the Gospel of John. Jesus uses the “I am” statements (bread of life, 6:35; light of the world, 8:12; door, 10:7; good shepherd, 10:11; resurrection and life, 11:25; way, truth and life, 14:6; true vine, 15:1) to reveal the dimensions of his relationship to humankind.