Pentecost 13, Aug 19, 2018

Title:Pentecost 13, Aug 19, 2018

 Pentecost 13, Aug. 19, 2018 (full size gallery)

A very successful Village Harvest this week, increasing our numbers to 140. Thanks to Eunice and Roger who gathered the food, Andrea Pogue for her pictures. Other helpers included Salli, Clarence and Betty, Elizabeth and Helmut and Susan

This is Catherine’s last week in Guatemala, visiting churches, coffee shops and getting in the last practice of Spanish.

Dr. John Sellers, former Baptist minister and Lincoln scholar, provided the sermon. We celebrated Woody and Cherry’s wedding anniversary for August 23. Other anniversaries included Justin and Karen Long (Aug. 23), David and Carolyn Duke (Aug.24). There were several birthdays – Jennifer Collins (Aug. 21), Nancy Wick (Aug. 22), John Faibisy (Aug. 23)

Today’s readings continue the theme of God’s sustenance with the emphasis on the eternal consequences. In Proverbs Wisdom gives a feast to which all are invited. Paul encourages Christians to be filled with God’s Spirit. Jesus promises that all who eat his flesh will live forever.

Ephesians is short but it contains wise advice. 1 Make every minute count 2. Do not get drunk with wine 3 Become filled with the spirit through music 4. Understand the will of God and give thanks.

Both Proverbs and the Gospel give a nod to the Eucharist. In Proverbs 9:1-6 Wisdom is personified as a woman, inviting us to the table of wisdom, a banquet, where we are served bread and wine. “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”  Search for deeper meanings in life.

In the Gospel, "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."

The Gospel reading from John 6:51-58 is a continuation of Jesus’ teachings on the Bread of Heaven, overlapping from the previous week. Once again, there is a literal interpretation by the hearers of Jesus’ words that cause misunderstandings.

This is one of the more difficult Sundays for preachers. This week is sometimes called "Cannibal Sunday" for the words used in the Gospel when Jesus said to them, “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“

Why did Jesus try to shock the disciples ? After all the spilling of human blood was considered an outrage against God since blood was identified with life and was sacred since God is the source of life. Then  there was eating the flesh. Eating flesh containing blood was prohibited in the Pentateuch. The penalty for doing so was expulsion from God’s people.

Jesus got their attention and wanted to take them beyond a literal  interpretation.

“Flesh and blood” is a Semitic idiom for “the whole human person” (Matthew 16:17), thus the phrase may be taken to refer to the reception of the whole living Christ. Taken separately, however, each term had a strongly negative impact in Jewish thought.

To eat and to drink is to incorporate and assimilate Jesus and thus to abide in him. As Jesus shares in the life of the Father, so he gives to humankind God’s own life.

Communion is connection. We have our own individual experience with the Eucharist as we are doing it together. We bring our background, our hopes and dream, our sorrows – and yes our entire being into it – as we take in Christ’s essence.

By faith, we allow Christ’s life to penetrate our being and nourish our life. God’s own life comes to us through the elements of bread and wine, so that we may become vehicles of God’s supernatural grace.