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John 6: the bread of life

Yesterday's service was cafe church style, so I've not got a full reflection to share today, but I can give you a little taster of what we talked about, althought sadly not a taster of the bacon rolls and pastried we consumed while talking about it!

We started by hearing John 6:5-13, the story of the feeding of the five thousand, then considered the following questions:

What in the passage is encouraging?

What is challenging?

What is a truth about the world?

What is a truth about God?

After some discussion around tables, I shared that the thing that seems most important to me about this passage is that the miracle doesn't happen without the disciples, as they have to take the bread and fish to the crowds. It's a powerful reminder that the work of the kingdom doesn't happen without us. We pray "your kingdom come", then we bring it closer by living lifes rooted in love and justice and grace. We pray "give us our daily bread", then we do what we can to make sure others have their daily bread.

Then we heard (a slightly abridged version of) John 6:35-56, in which Jesus declares himself to be the bread of life, and started with these questions:

What does it mean to say Jesus is our food and drink?

How does 'consuming' Christ bring eternal life?

What does this passage add to out understanding of communion?

Why did Jesus use such shocking language?

One table talked about the way in which separating the language of eating Christ's flesh and drinking Christ's blood from the bread and wine of the communion table reminds us that we eat and drink symbolically, and not only with a mouthful of bread and a cupful of wine once a month on a Sunday morning. Another reflected on the rather stark and even uncomfortable language, and I suggested that perhaps this was Jesus' way of trying to catch the attention of the crowds, reminding them after the feeding miracle that following him is not just about getting a free meal, but demands that we really think about who is and what it means to be fed by him.

So there is a little of what we shared as we broke bread together. And now I leave you with a poem by Malcom Guite. May you find healing, satisfaction and wholeness as you eat of the bread of life.

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