READING: I Kings 19:1-8; Psalm 34; John 6:41-51
SERMON : "Food For The Journey"
Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
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: The Assurance of Pardon is from Moira B. Laidlaw
(email@example.com), 1997. Portions of the Prayers of the
People from Deacon Sil Galvan, 1997
GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE (* = please stand)
* WORDS OF WELCOME:
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 Come, believing in one who relieves your thirst,
P Come, trusting in the one who gives us bread for the journey
L Come, worship the one who delivered Israel from Egypt
P And praise and glorify his name for the life of victory
that he grants to us.
* HYMN: "O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts" - VU 472
* PRAYER OF APPROACH
Let us Pray: Most Holy God, Lord Jesus, Breath of Life - we praise and
adore you. Your mercies are made new every day. Be present with us and
in this hour - and indeed in this Sabbath Day, help us to be present to
you, to hold you in our hearts and in our minds with reverence and with
joy, to honour you in our songs and our prayers, to bring praise to you
because of our words and our actions. Bless us and make us a blessing,
both now - and indeed forever and ever. Amen.
* HYMN: "This Is The Day" (verses 1-3, 1 again) - VU 412
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS:
- Birthdays and Anniversaries
- Prayer Joys and Concerns
READING: I Kings 19:1-8
(NIV) Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had
killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger
to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely,
if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of
them." Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to
Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself
went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down
under it and prayed that he might die.
"I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than
my ancestors." Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at
once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat."
He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over
hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said,
"Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." So he got up and
ate and drank.
Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights
until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.
L This is the word of the Lord.
P Thanks be to God.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
L Gracious God -- you give to us all that we need - yet so often we
hunger, so often we call into question your goodness and your love.
P Forgive us, O Lord, for the times we have failed to take and eat what
you provided, for those times we have rejected the food you have rained
down upon us and then complained about how empty our lives feel. Help
us to open our hearts to receive your presence and our eyes to behold
the works that you are performing.
................ silent prayer and confession ..............
L Gracious God - you give to our world all that it needs - yet so often
people hunger, so often they call into question your goodness and your
P Forgive us, O Lord, for the times we have failed to share what you have
provided, for those times we have clung to your blessings while those
around us are crying out for your help. Help us to open our hearts to
the needs of others and our hands to pass on the gifts that you have
entrusted to us.
................ silent prayer and confession ..............
L We ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen
Sung: O Lord, hear my prayer. O Lord, hear my prayer; when I call
answer me. O Lord hear my prayer, O Lord hear my prayer;
come and listen to me. (VU 948)
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
L We are enabled to be kind to one another, to be tenderhearted, to
forgive one another, and to be forgiven, because Jesus feeds us with
his life. A life given to save us from sin. Hear, then, the good
news: those who are in Christ are a new creation; the old has passed
away, behold the new has come. Thanks be to God! Amen!
CHILDREN'S TIME: "The Main Ingredient"
Theme Jesus, like bread, is the main ingredient in our lives
Object Wheat Berries, Loaf of Bread in a BAG
Good morning.... Today I want to talk to you about this --- SHOW, BUT DO
NOT TELL, JAR OF WHEAT BERRIES -- In both our scripture readings today food
is mentioned -- bread actually --- and Jesus says in the reading that we
will hear in just a few minutes that he is the Bread of Life -- and that
whoever eats that bread will live forever. Incredible stuff - and it made
me think about how important things like this bread Jesus speaks of - and
this JAR is. DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT I HAVE HERE??? (Pass it around)
It is a jar of wheat berries --- what can you do with this???? What use
does it have??
What can you make from wheat and just a little water and salt and yeast
(bread, pita, bannock) and if you add luxuries like fruit, sugar, or milk
(cake, cobblers, donuts, etc). In all these things what do you think the
main ingredient is????
My experience tells me that just as flour - wheat - or corn - or rice - is
the main ingredient in so many good things - that bread or bread like
things have been and still are in fact the main food in the lives of so
many people, so too GOD - the GOD we know in and through Jesus - is the
main ingredient in our lives -- that God not only gives us life - the very
breath we take -- but through the knowledge of God - through faith in
Christ - through trusting what the Scriptures Say - through taking and
eating what Jesus offers to us (PRODUCE BREAD FROM BAG) -- our lives are
made rich and full of joy and peace - but we have to take and eat.
Share the bread around.
PRAYER AND LORD'S PRAYER
Dear Lord God -- we pray each day -- as Jesus taught us -- for our daily
bread -- help us not only to pray -- but to take and eat -- that which you
have prepared for us. -- We ask it in his name (saying together), Our
* HYMN: "For The Fruit of All Creation" - VU 227
RESPONSIVE PSALM READING: Psalm 34 (VU page 761)
READING: John 6:41-51
(NIV) At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, "I
am the bread that came down from heaven."
They said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother
we know? How can he now say, 'I came down from heaven'?"
"Stop grumbling among yourselves," Jesus answered. "No one can come to
me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at
the last day. It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught
by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes
to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only
he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has
everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the
manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes
down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living
bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will
live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of
L This is the gospel of the Lord.
P Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
* HYMN: "Open My Eyes" - VU 371
SERMON: "Food For The Journey"
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
The Story of Elijah is an interesting one -- he was one of the first of the
great prophets, a prophet to the nation of the Northern Israel - to the
people who would later become known as the 10 lost tribes.
Like us, Elijah is on a journey - a journey of the Spirit -
- a journey that has led him to a confrontation with the priests of
Baal - the god of Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab
- on that journey Elijah has earned the hatred of Jezebel - which,
given her "charming personality" was a very easy thing to earn - and
she wishes him dead
- and so he flees from the city of Jezreel to Beersheba - and then - he
goes out into the wilderness about a day's walk, and came to a solitary
broom tree in the midst of this wilderness, and sits under - and asks God
that he might die.
There are times, are there not, when people we know and love despair to the
point of wanting to die.
Perhaps there have been times when we ourselves have thought death a sweet
- an alternative - as it was to Elijah - to being a solitary voice -
- an alternative to the stress of being under attack from those who
were once our neighbours,
- an alternative to the loneliness and fear of being the odd person
out, the person who has done what was right only to find that all who
have stood with him or her have vanished away - and every hand seems
set against you
- an alternative to feeling that perhaps - just perhaps - you are no
better - and perhaps even worse than those who have gone before you - no
better even than those who are against us.
Our journey through life takes us through some very dangerous country
our pilgrimage can leads us into some very desolate wilderness..
And so Elijah prays that he might die:
"It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better
than my ancestors."
And then he lies down under the broom tree and falls asleep,
a sleep that I know that each one of you here today understands -
- the sleep of exhaustion,
- the sleep of stress so high and the energy to go on fighting so low
that it sweeps over you - and normally is too soon gone - the new day comes
And in the night - something happens. Some answer to his prayer.
An angel comes and touches him - wakens him - and tells him to "get up and
eat". And there is food - a Cake of Bread upon a hot stone - and drink - a
jar of water set near to hand.
And he eats and he lies down again, till again - some time later - the
angel returns and touches him once more, and says:
"Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you."
And he rises, and he eats and he drinks - and then, the scriptures say, he
went forty days and forty nights to Horeb - the mountain of God - the place
we call Mount Sinai - and there he comes to cave and spends the night
Other interesting things happen to Elijah while he is at the Mountain of
God. At the end of this journey through the wilderness he is granted a
vision of God - and given a message of hope for his own life and for the
nation - and he is given a disciple - one who will keep him company and
help him on his journey - and at last take his place as prophet over Israel
when he grows old - the young man Elisha.
But, with me, think of the words of the angel to Elijah,
the words "Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you."
To survive on our journey, to have the strength to go through the barren
places of life, those places where we are alone - because of divorce, or
illness, or death - we need to eat to drink the food and the drink that God
has prepared for us: the food that he grants each one of us in the sacred
stories of this holy book and in the newer tales told by people of faith
who enter our lives from time to time.
We need to cry out to God when we are in need, when we are in despair,
and then heed the tap that comes upon our shoulder in the middle of the
night - the voice that whispers in our inward most ear - and tells us to
believe, to trust, to rise up and take the bread and the water that will be
there for us and to eat and drink - and to eat and drink again -- and go
forth to complete our journey.
Are you running on empty? Do you sometimes feel that you do not have the
strength to travel onward for another day? let alone another 40?
Perhaps it is time to eat.
The food is all round us - especially in this place - and in the people who
sit beside you - people who have faith - people who know the story and who
know where God is to be found.
God is here - God's angels hover round us.
God is here - in the truth that we proclaim -
in the bread that has been passed around this sanctuary -
in the light that enters through the windows -
in the water that flows in the rivers outside these doors -
in the ordinary things - the daily miracles that so many take for granted -
- the rising and setting of the sun, and the moon and the stars,
and the ever changing mountains and the rhythm of the seasons
- in the breath that comes in and out of our lungs each minute
- in the crying of a baby and the laughter of a child and the care of a
God is here in the Christ,
the son of Joseph - whose parents indeed we do know;
the carpenter with whom we are well familiar -
God is in the one who says:
"I am the bread of life" and again "I am the living bread that came
down from heaven - whoever eats of this bread will live forever."
God is in the one who said to his disciples and to us:
"Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Solid food is available my friends,
food that will sustain us on our spiritual journey.
It is a great tragedy not to take it up and eat it - a tragedy that can so
easily be avoided if one but takes the time to look around, and to think
about what will truly satisfy.
Jean Pierre Caussade writes in the book "Abandonment to Divine Providence"
"God speaks to every individual through what happens to them moment
by moment." He goes on - "The events of each moment are stamped with
the will of God.... we find all that is necessary in the present
moment." Again: "We are bored with the small happenings around us,
yet it is these trivialities - as we consider them - which would do
marvels for us if only we did not despise them."
Bread - ordinary bread -- bread simply for the eating.
Rich and filling - something we know well -
something that endures when other more exotic foods are not available,
or proves - as so much of the food that we eat in this society does -
to lead to death instead of life.
Ordinary stuff. Stuff we know.
Stuff that is so familiar to us that many of us fail to understand it
- and either try to make it out to be more than it is
- or despise it for being less than they think it ought to be, for
being ordinary - familiar - common: rather than magical, powerful,
immaculate, glorious, and wondrous beyond even the ability of Cecil B
DeMille to portray in a movie.
But the ordinary is powerful, it is magical
- it is immaculate and glorious and wondrous,
for those who have the eyes to see - those who seek God
- and are willing to get up and eat and drink what he has provided.
God has provided us with food for our journey -
take and eat that you may be strong in him and so reach the place he is
calling you to.
Let us Pray a prayer by Janet Cawley that is found in Voices United as
God of the way,
you are the road we travel,
and the sign we follow;
you are bread for the journey,
and the wine of arrival.
Guide us as we follow in your way,
holding on to each other,
reaching out to your beloved world.
And when we stray,
seek us out and find us,
set our feet on the path again,
and lead us safely home.
In the name of Jesus, our Companion we pray. Amen.
Blessed be God - day by day. Amen
PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING AND INTERCESSION
Let Us Pray: Dear Lord, we spoken and thought much about bread this morning
- the bread that you give that is worked upon by human hands -- and the
bread of heaven - the bread of life - that you have given us in and through
Christ Jesus. We thank you Lord for your love - for how you provide all
things that we need. We thank you - and we ask you, O God, to continue to
feed us - to work on us - and to move us to feed others. Help us to live
the recipe of good deeds before we give the recipe to others. Give us the
kneading strength of your Spirit to work your words into the doughy
recesses of our lives. Help us to let it rest awhile in our hearts so that
it can rise. Help us not to fear the oven of life, so that it can bake
through and through. And grant that in the baking, the world would be able
to roll down its window and savour the aroma of freshly baked bread, your
bread of life. Lord, hear our prayer...
Father, just as you graciously provide for our spiritual nourishment
through the Word revealed to us by your Son, Jesus Christ, so we bring our
physical needs - and the needs of others before you, in the faith and
confidence that you are willing to hear our prayers.
We pray, O God, for the needs of our brothers and sisters throughout the
world, those who are united with us at the one table of the Lord, and also
for the clergy and religious of his Church, that they may continue to
illuminate the Word by their words and example, Lord, hear our prayer...
We pray for these folk and for others that are upon our hearts this day.
Hear our prayers for those whom we name aloud at this time...... Lord,
hear our prayer.....
We pray for the nations of this world and peoples who make them up -- and
especially for those who are in situations of war or want -- and for all
the other intentions which you, O Lord, have placed upon our hearts....
Lord hear our prayer...
O God, be with us as we journey through life. Nourish us always with your
Word and Sacrament until we reach the home which you have prepared for us
from all eternity. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen
* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: The Offering Is Received and as it is presented
all stand for The Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU
#541) and the Prayer of Dedication
Gracious and loving God -- we offer to you at this time more than
these tithes and offerings which you have commanded us to give; as
recipients of the bread of life, we offer bread to the hungry. For
the gift of living water, we reach out to those who are thirsty. In
the name of the One who shared our flesh and died to give us life -
we dedicate unto you our time, our talent, our treasure. We pray to
bless all these things in your service - a service in life
overwhelms death. Amen.
* DEPARTING HYMN: "I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say" - VU 626
* 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
* BENEDICTION & THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace and care for one another in Christ's name.
Go, blessed as God's beloved children,
Go, fed with the love and life of Christ,
Go, filled afresh with the Holy Spirit .
And May God's wondrous mercies accompany you on your journey each day.
SUNG BLESSING: "Go Now In Peace" (VU 964)
copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2000, 2003
please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.