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Sermon and Liturgy For Ordinary 18 - Proper 13 - Year B
Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 78:1-16; John 6:24-35
"The Bread That Endures"


READING:  Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 78:1-16; John 6:24-35
SERMON :  "The Bread That Endures"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-or18sn.y-b 737 

   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.
   
   Sources: Story about Richard Pryor from James F. Colaianni, Sr., We
   Have No Choice" in Sunday Sermons, v27, #4, 1997.  The Children's
   story is from Eldon Weisheit "God's Promise For Children: Object
   Lessons On OT Texts - Series B", Augsburg Press, 1981.  Due to
   copyright this can not be produced below.
 

GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP
L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  We gather to worship God and to be strengthened 
   that we may lead a life worthy of the calling 
   to which we have been called.
P  We are here to praise God 
   and to ask that we may, 
   with all humility and gentleness and patience, 
   bear with one another in love.
L  God gives each of us grace according to the measure of Christ's gift.
P  It is God's will that we all come to the unity of the faith 
   and acquire the knowledge and of the maturity of Christ.
L  Call upon God and he will answer.  Ask and you will receive.


* INTROIT:  "This Is The Day" (verse 1)                            - VU 412


* PRAYER OF APPROACH
Gracious God, we praise your Name and we thank you for your bountiful and
generous love.  We call upon you this day and ask that you would help us
seek the blessings which endure unto eternal life.  Help us open our hearts
to your inward presence, our minds to the messages that your write upon the
passing hours and days, and our soul's to the refreshing winds of your
Spirit.  Grant that our prayer and our praise might be acceptable unto thee
and that by our words and our actions you might be glorified, both now and
forevermore.  Amen


* HYMN:  "Come In, Come In and Sit Down"                           - VU 395


ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS
- Announcements
- Birthdays and Anniversaries
- Sharing Joys and Concerns


ST. ANDREW'S THIS WEEK 
- as needed


CHILDREN'S TIME: "Seeing God's Helping Hand"      
Theme     God hears and provides for us.
Object    Check and Cash - Loonies and Toonies.
Source    Eldon Weisheit "God's Promise For Children: Object Lessons On OT
          Texts - Series B", Augsburg Press, 1981
 
   Let us pray -- Dear Lord God -- we thank you for listening to us --
   and for always giving us what we need. -- Help us to see -- how you
   answer our prayer -- Help us to ask -- what is this -- and to hear
   your reply. -- we ask it in Christ' name -- Amen. 


* HYMN:  "Your Hand, O God, Has Guided"                            - VU 274


A READING FROM EXODUS 16:2-15
   (NIV)   In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and
   Aaron. {3} The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the
   Lord's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the
   food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve
   this entire assembly to death." {4} Then the LORD said to Moses, "I
   will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each
   day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and
   see whether they will follow my instructions. {5} On the sixth day they
   are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as
   they gather on the other days." {6} So Moses and Aaron said to all the
   Israelites, "In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who
   brought you out of Egypt, {7} and in the morning you will see the glory
   of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are
   we, that you should grumble against us?" {8} Moses also said, "You will
   know that it was the LORD when he gives you meat to eat in the evening
   and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your
   grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us,
   but against the LORD." {9} Then Moses told Aaron, "Say to the entire
   Israelite community, 'Come before the LORD, for he has heard your
   grumbling.'" {10} While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite
   community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of
   the LORD appearing in the cloud. {11} The LORD said to Moses, {12} "I
   have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, 'At twilight you
   will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then
   you will know that I am the LORD your God.'" {13} That evening quail
   came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew
   around the camp. {14} When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on
   the ground appeared on the desert floor. {15} When the Israelites saw
   it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what
   it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to
   eat.

L  This is the word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.


RESPONSIVE READING:  Psalm 78:1-16 (Voices United 792 without refrain) 


A READING FROM JOHN 6:24-35 
   (NIV)  Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples
   were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of
   Jesus. {25} When they found him on the other side of the lake, they
   asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" {26} Jesus answered, "I tell
   you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous
   signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. {27} Do not
   work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life,
   which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed
   his seal of approval." {28} Then they asked him, "What must we do to do
   the works God requires?" {29} Jesus answered, "The work of God is this:
   to believe in the one he has sent." {30} So they asked him, "What
   miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you?
   What will you do? {31} Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as
   it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" {32} Jesus
   said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you
   the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread
   from heaven. {33} For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven
   and gives life to the world." {34} "Sir," they said, "from now on give
   us this bread." {35} Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He
   who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will
   never be thirsty.

L  This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


* HYMN:  "Here I Am Lord"                                          - VU 509


SERMON: "The Bread That Endures" 

   Let us Pray - O God, light of the minds that know you, life of the
   souls that love you, and strength of the thoughts that seek you -
   bless the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts. 
   Breath into us that we may live in the manner you have appointed
   unto us.  We ask it in Jesus' name.  Amen

I would like to begin today by telling you an old Japanese story - a fable
actually - about Tasuku - a stonecutter.

   Tasuku was a poor man who cut blocks of stone from the foot of a
   mountain.  One day he saw a well-dressed prince parade by.  Tasuku
   envied the prince and wished that he could have that kind of wealth. 
   The Great Spirit heard Tasuku, and he was made a prince.

   Tasuku was happy with his silk clothes and his powerful armies until
   he saw the sun wilt the flowers in his royal garden.  He wished for
   such power as the sun had, and his wish was granted.  He became the
   sun, with power to parch fields and humble people with thirst.

   Tasuku was happy to be the sun until a cloud covered him and
   obscured his powerful heat.  With that, he had another wish, and the
   Spirit complied.  Thereafter Tasuku was a cloud with the power to
   ravage the land with floods and storms. 

   Tasuku was happy until he saw the mountain remain in spite of his
   storm.  So Tasuku demanded to be the mountain.  The Spirit obeyed. 
   Tasuku became the mountain and was more powerful than the prince,
   the sun, or the cloud.  And he was happy until he felt a chisel
   chipping at his feet.  It was a stonecutter working away - cutting
   blocks to sell to make his daily living.

How many of you know people who seem to be driven - unable to relax -
unable to find satisfaction for more than a few moments at a time?  

There are people, a majority actually, who are  constantly seeking
something - they work or they play, they build or they drink, they join
clubs and societies or they party, hoping to find in these activities some
form of peace, some form of inner quiet, some form of satisfaction. - yet,
despite all they do, they continue to hunger and thirst.

What are you looking for???
What will make you happy??
What will set your soul at rest??

Tasuku never found out - even though all his wishes were granted by the
Great Spirit.  Nor - it seems did the people of Israel after they were led
by God out of bondage in Egypt.

They demanded water at Marah,
   - and what was once bitter was made sweet.
They demanded bread and meat in the wilderness of Sin, 
complaining to Moses and Aaron that God had brought them out of the
security of their bondage in Egypt only to kill them with hunger,
   - and manna was provided - and meat - enough each day for each day

Yet within a few days the people were complaining again to Moses and Aaron,
complaining that God was trying to kill them, and their children and their
livestock.

What were they looking for?
   They prayed and God answered them.
What would have made them happy?
   They complained, and God responded.
What would have set their souls at rest?
   Their wishes were granted - yet they still were unsatisfied.

What is it that you desire?

Is it that which will allow you to "let go?
    That which will allow you to trust?  
	   That which help you to face life with all its uncertainties?
Or do you seek that which will only lead you to want more?  
    Or to want something different?
Do you seek the things of God?  Or the things of this world?

When Jesus fed the crowd of 5000 with five loaves and two fish all ate and
all were filled - all had as much as they wanted.  And they hailed Jesus as
the prophet who was to come into the world.  And they sought to make him
king 
   - for they realized that he could satisfy their hunger,
   - that he could free them from Roman control,
   - that he could put their nation on easy street.

Yet Jesus was not flattered by their interest in him when they sought him
out after he crossed the sea.

He knew what would last, what has the ability to truly satisfy,
and what - by its very nature - is only temporary and passing, quick to
wither and fade.

   "Very truly, I tell you", said Jesus, "you are looking for me, not
   because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 
   Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that
   endures for eternal life - which the Son of Man will give you."

There is another kind of bread, another kind of food -
   and to come to realize this is not to despise the things that we
   already know, the things we need for our daily existence,
but it is to discover a balance and a harmony to life
   it is to find oneself,
   to discover the possibility of a lasting peace and an enduring happiness,
   to uncover the hidden connectedness of life 
   - that connectedness that satisfies the hunger and quenches the thirst.

The well known comedian, Richard Pryor, was critically burned in an
"accident" a few years back.  

   When he had recovered sufficiently, he appeared on Johnny Carson's
   "Tonight Show".  In his conservation with Carson, he said he learned
   that when you're seriously ill, suddenly money isn't that important
   anymore.  Then he said, "All I could think of was to call on GOD.  I
   didn't call the Bank of America once!"

Some things are more satisfying than those things which money or success
can bring you.

It is often said that health is one such thing.  But the discerning realize
that even health is a passing thing, that we will all die, and they claim
that instead VIRTUE is that which should be sought, that honesty,
integrity, compassion, a forgiving spirit, a kind heart are of greater and
more lasting value than large houses, new cars, and large bank accounts.

But the bread of heaven that Jesus speaks of in today's gospel is more than
honesty and integrity;
      it is even greater than a compassionate and forgiving heart,
        it is even better than virtue - and striving to lead a moral and
        upright life -
because these things too may perish,
or at the very least be confounded by our innate sinfulness, our innate
selfishness.

Virtue is ever  mixed with baser instincts, and less noble actions often
mingle with our more noble ones -  confounding our righteousness, and
showing us just how far from perfect we really are.

LISTEN, my brothers and sisters!  HEAR the Good News!

When Jesus spoke of the bread of heaven - of the food that endures - of the
drink that satisfies, he did not speak of what we should or should not do
each and every day.  He did not preach about our leading a more noble and
more righteous life.  He did not recommend particular behaviours and
condemn certain others.

No - when Jesus spoke of the bread of heaven 
he spoke of himself,
and of belief in him
and of faith in God.

"What must we do", ask the people after Jesus tells them of the food that
endures for eternal life, "What must we do to perform the works of God."

* And he replies - "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom
he has sent." *

That is, in some way, too much for the crowd around Jesus  to accept,
and they ask Jesus to give them another sign so that they may believe him, 
a sign like that which Moses gave their ancestors in the wilderness,
and finally - at the end of it all - 
   when Jesus tells them that the bread that their ancestors ate in the
   wilderness came not from Moses - but from God,
they ask NOT that Jesus might help them believe,
but that he might always give them the bread that gives life to the world.

Like so many people today, including all too many people in the churches of
our nation, they missed the point of what Jesus says.  They refuse to do
the work that Jesus says that they need to do if they are to eat and be
satisfied - if they are to drink and find that their thirst is quenched, 
They refuse to simply believe in him!   They seem unable  to simply trust
in God.

Instead, like their ancestors, they grumble and complain, and suggest to
one another that Jesus is a hoax, a fraud, a person who is either mad or a
blasphemer; a person set on leading them astray and causing them to perish.

But my friends - this was and is not the case -
Faith in Christ has satisfied many a person,
Trust in God has quenched the thirst of many a thirsty soul,
Belief in the Lord has filled many a hungry heart.

There is a greater world, a greater reality, than the physical world we
live in.  And this reality, this world, is within, and all around the
physical world, it enters our time and our space, and it endures beyond it.

The sun and the moon and the stars that we see at night, are greater than
we, yet even they will perish.

But God, who made them all, will not perish; even as his chosen one, his
messenger, his son, did not perish when he died for us on the cross, but
rather passed through death into eternal life.

We are connected to this greater world, to this greater reality.  We are
linked to it, and to the God who made it, because God wants it to be so for
us.

The power, and the beauty, and the peace, and the joy, of God's realm is
accessible to us when we believe in Him and the One whom he has sent; 
   when we trust in Him and the One who calls us to eat and drink of the
   bread and the wine he provides.

Say now in your heart
"Yes Lord - Yes - I know that there is more - and I thank you for offering
it to me.  I thank you for offering it freely, without regard to my virtue
or reference to my sin.  I thank you for showing me where my home is, where
my hope is, where my future is.

Say YES each day to God, YES each day to the one who said:

   "I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never be hungry,
   and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."

And then SHARE the Good News with others,
the news that in the midst of the hunger and thirst of our world
there is a drink that satisfies and a bread that endures;
that God rains it down upon his people like dew upon the morning grass.

Each morning, my friends,  that food it is made new,
Each day, as it is gathered, it gives life to those for whom it is meant,
those who embrace its sender and believe in his goodness.,

Blessed be God - day by day.  Amen


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Loving God - you rain down your blessings upon us from heaven and we thank
you for it.  Help us, O God, to recognize the food and drink you have
provided and to gather it in each day.  Feed us till we want no more.... 
Lord hear our prayer...

Loving God, you call us to labour for those things which endure, to work
for that which truly satisfies.  We pray today for this.  Feed us with the
bread of heaven and show us how 
   to make right things that are wrong,
   to give your hope to the lost
   to bring your wisdom to those who are confused
   to gather to you those who are need your salvation.
Lord, hear our prayer...

Caring God -- we have prayed that you might touch us and use us - that you
might feed us that might feed others -- at this time we pray that your
healing hand and life-giving Spirit might touch those people and those
circumstances that we have named aloud in this place before our brothers
and sisters - and those we have held in our hearts.....  Lord, hear our 
prayer...
              
We remember too the many people who have come to Golden for the Rodeo and
to the championships off Mount Seven - and we remember this church - and
pray that it might be a place where life is celebrated and people know and
share your love.  All these things we ask in the name of Christ Jesus our
Lord.  Amen


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of
Dedication

   Most Holy One - you who feed us with the bread of heaven and that
   which has been worked upon by human hands -- we pray that we might
   be so united with you that we might give as you give, love as you
   love, heal as you heal, touch as you touch, and be as you be.   We
   offer to you now, O God, not only these tithes and offerings, but
   our very selves.  Be pleased to receive what we offer and to
   transform it in your service through Christ Jesus, your Son.  Amen 


* DEPARTING HYMN:  ""All The Way My Saviour Leads Me"              - VU 635


* COMMISSIONING (Unison):  In the power of the Holy Spirit we now go forth
   into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of
   Christ.


* BENEDICTION
Go in peace, love and care for one another in the name of Christ;
and may God grant to you a heart that is open to his mercies
   and the eyes to see and the ears to hear that which he is doing -
may the Lord pour down upon you the Bread that Satisfies
   and equip you by the power of the Holy Spirit to share what you have
   received with one another
this both now and forevermore.  Amen.


* THREE FOLD AMEN & CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"            - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2000, 2003
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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