Homily By The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA
16 Aug. 2015 Proper 15 Year B: 1 Kings:10-12; 3:3-14; Psalm 111; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58
Jesus says: “I am the living bread...”
Then later in our Gospel today he says, & I paraphrase:
You are what you eat.”
Jesus says, “...those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” Jesus gives us this bread “for the life of the world...”
We are what we eat even when we do not understand the science of nutrition, how our food nourishes us. Even when we do not understand the how of it, this Body of Christ thrives as the life-enhancing resource you are for this community & beyond.
Week by week we share the Mystery of Holy Bread & Wine. This Mystery feeds our spirits & satisfies us in ways beyond what we comprehend. We receive nourishment to do the work God gives each of us to do, to do the work God gives us collectively to do as the Body of Christ. God's grace is greater than our understanding.
Think about our recent Gospel readings when Jesus feeds the hungry crowds. Notice: he feeds them without explaining how the miracle of abundance happens.2 As Lutheran Bishop Craig A. Satterlee of North/West Lower Michigan Synod, Lansing, Mich., says: Jesus' “concern is less with getting his hearers to understand than getting them to eat.”3 The Bishop goes on to say: Instead of explaining how the miracle happens, Jesus simply promises to provide us food for the life of the world, “to nourish the world with the gift of himself.”4
Jesus gives this gift for us & the world in his life on earth and by his “very real death on the cross...”5 By his cross & precious death “Jesus nourishes faith, forgives sin, & empowers us to be witnesses to the Gospel....”6 This happens through God’s wisdom that is greater than knowledge, greater than we can understand. This is a relationship for us to trust & embrace...7
We nourish our relationship with Jesus in many ways, including nourishing our relationships with each other. In Paul's words to the Ephesians, we hear details of how we do this. Paul points us to the creative, artistic aspects of our common life.
In our Gospel we see the difficulty of creative living: we see people who are literalistic about what they hear. They just don't get it when Jesus talks about living bread. Paul points us past literalistic thinking. Paul points us to creative, joyful interactions: singing psalms & hymns, making melody to God, giving thanks to God at all times for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus.
You beautifully do this kind of grace-filled sharing. Wednesday night, your singing was spectacular, not just the Happy Birthday to baby Sam for his 1st birthday but in the song fest that followed.
We have had a literalistic mindset here that we don't sing well at St. John's. I know 2 things: each of you has the gift of music in your heart & I know the excuses for not singing [I read them online at sermons4kids]:8
- “I don't like the songs we sing.” The songs are for God, who created the gift of music & probably likes all kinds of songs!
- “I don't know this song.” In 4 places, the Bible says, “Sing to the Lord a new song."9 How can we sing a new song if we won't try it?
- & the Number 1 excuse for not singing: “I can't carry a tune in a bucket." This excuse won't hold water.
You members of the Bucket Brigade know who you are. Know this: The Bible doesn't say, “Sing...with a beautiful voice;” 6 places in the Psalms & 2 in the Apocrypha say10: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord." [That's what I do! I do it emboldened by our Beloved Sister Naomi, who acknowledges she “can't carry a tune in a bucket” but sings out any way. So I have asked Naomi to lead our Bucket Brigade when we sing - which is why she is receiving her own special red bucket today.]
First we'll sing the Bishop's favorites to get familiar with them, then we'll share a few minutes to sing your favorites.
With or without the ability to carry a tune in a bucket, let's make a joyful noise to show
God how much we love God & each other!
“A Word to the Wise”. http://www.sermons4kids.com/word_to_the_wise.htm. Accessed: 10 Aug. 2015.
Galvin, Garrett. Assistant Professor of Sacred Scripture, Franciscan School of Theology, Berkeley, CA. “Commentary on 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14.” http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2558. Accessed: 10 Aug. 2015.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=joyful+noise&qs_version=NRSV. Accessed: 15 Aug. 2015. References to Make a joyful noise: Psalm 66:1; Psalm 95:2; Psalm 98:4;Psalm 98:6;Psalm 100:1. In the Apocrapha: Judith 14:9: When she had finished, the people raised a great shout and made a joyful noise in their town; 1 Esdras 5:64. ...while many came with trumpets and a joyful noise...
https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=sing+to+the+Lord+a+new+song&qs_version=NRSV. Accessed: 15 Aug. 2015. References to Sing a new song: Psalm 96:1; Psalm 98:1; Psalm 149:1; Isaiah 42:10.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
Kesselus, The Rev. Ken Kesselus. “You Are What You Eat”. Sermons That Work. Accessed 10 Aug. 2015. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2009/08/16/eleventh-sunday-after-pentecost-proper-15-b-august-16-2009/
Lectionary Page. http://www.lectionarypage.net/. Accessed: 22 July 2015.
The New American Bible for Catholics. South Bend: Greenlawn Press. 1986.
Peterson, Brian. Professor of New Testament, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, SC. “ Commentary on Ephesians 5:15-20”. http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2548. Accessed: 2 Aug. 2015.
Satterlee, Bishop Craig A. “Commentary on John Commentary on John 6:51-58. Accessed: 10 Aug. 2015. http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2552.
“Soli Deo Gloria” http://www.sermons4kids.com/ Accessed: 10 Aug. 2015.
1 Kesselus, The Rev. Ken Kesselus. “You Are What You Eat”. Sermons That Work. Accessed 10 Aug. 2015.
2 Satterlee, Bishop Craig A. “Commentary on John Commentary on John 6:51-58. Accessed: 10 Aug. 2015. http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2552.
9 Note: Search results from Bible Gateway listed in Bibliography
10 Ibid. Note