Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, September 13. Read Matthew 26:26-29. 1) In the course of a meal, what did Jesus do with two of the elements of that meal – bread and wine? 2) What significance did Jesus assign to those elements?
Tuesday, September 14. Read John 15:1-11. 1) To what does Jesus liken the relationship he has with his disciples? 2) What does God do in/with that relationship? 3) Read the sermon text for the week and think about possible similarities between these two texts.
Wednesday, September 15. Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-27. 1) What did Paul tell the Corinthians was of first importance? 2) How does the Lord’s Supper figure into this? 3) What happens when we partake of the Lord’s Supper?
Thursday, September 16. Read Ephesians 5:25-30. 1) What metaphor does Paul use to describe our relationship with Christ? 2) Paul said that we nourish and care for what we love. What, in this case, is he talking about? 3) How does Christ figure into this metaphorically speaking?
Friday, September 17. Read 1 John 4:13-16. 1) How do we know that we have a relationship with Christ? 2) What does John say Christ does with those who confess Christ’s identity? 3) Look at the sermon text and reflect on how these two texts might be saying similar things about our relationship with Christ.
Saturday, September 18. Read John 6:51-58. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
Christ of the Cross, we are horrified by the image of those who love you, eating you. But we know that you did not mean that literally, having a “leg of Jesus” with a little mint jelly on the side. It’s a repugnant idea but it is also easier to do than what you are really asking us to do. To be consumed with following you, understanding you, imitating you in the way we live. So help us to hear you. To quit trivializing this calling. We pray to you and through you, Jesus. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
Jesus thou joy of loving hearts
by Bernard of Clairvaux, 1160
translated in 1858
O Jesus, joy of loving hearts,
thou fount of life, thou light of men,
from fullest bliss that earth imparts
we turn unfilled to thee again,
we turn unfilled to thee again.
Thy truth unchanged has ever stood,
thou savest those that on thee call;
to them that seek thee, thou art good,
to them that find thee, all in all,
to them that find thee, all in all.
We taste thee, O thou living bread,
and long to feast upon thee still;
we drink of thee, the fountainhead,
and thirst our souls from thee to fill,
and thirst our souls from thee to fill.
Our restless spirits yearn for thee,
where’er our changeful lot is cast,
glad that thy gracious smile we see,
blest that our faith can hold thee fast,
blest that our faith can hold thee fast.
O Jesus, ever with us stay,
make all our moments calm and bright;
chase the dark night of sin away,
shed o’er the world thy holy light,
shed o’er the world thy holy light.
Devotional Article of the Week
Why is it so important to recognize that the bread is broken? Because we are broken, too!
by Phil Ware
They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish — unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.)
But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.”
The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over (Luke 9:13-17).
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:16-17, 19)
When Jesus shared a meal with his followers, he gave thanks and then broke the bread and passed it to others to share. At a common meal on the night of Jesus’ resurrection Sunday, the disciples on the road to Emmaus could describe “how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35 ESV). Paul would later add, “And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16).
As we gather around the Lord’s Table, we break bread and drink wine. What we share goes way beyond bread and wine. This breaking of bread is a holy moment and a sacred experience. We would do well to pause and think a moment or two about this bread that is broken and why it is broken.
This breaking of the bread can be so much more than just symbol, custom, language, and idiom. Something about our brokenness connects deeply to the bread that is broken. We acknowledge our world is tragically broken and enslaved to the power of sin and death. We confess our own brokenness without the gift of God’s grace. We remember the brokenness of Jesus’s body as he faced his torturous route through betrayals, trials, denials, beatings, and crucifixion to the empty tomb. We recognize the brokenness of Jesus’ friends as they saw him die and saw all their dreams shattered.
Praise God! All of this brokenness is absorbed and transformed by the Lord’s triumphant victory over hell, sin, and death when he rose from the grave (1 Corinthians 15:56-58). We celebrate this victory as we celebrate The Supper as the earliest Christians did: we take the broken bread on the first day of the week, Sunday, the day of Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 20:7). Brokenness is absorbed in new life, new hope, and the promise of a better day!
Yes, our world is still broken and sometimes breaks us and those we love.
Yes, sinful people still break our hearts and our hopes.
Yes, we can become discouraged in our brokenness and want to give up or even, like Jesus, feel abandoned by God (Mark 15:34).
So, we break the bread. We break the bread as more than just a symbol and an idiom we repeat. We break the bread to remind us that this broken bread is for broken people. We break the bread because of the triumphant love of Jesus that allowed himself to be broken by the same mortal humanity we wear. We break bread on the day of his resurrection to remind ourselves that he has triumphed through his brokenness to become our Lord and pioneer (Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 12:1-2). We break bread to remind us who is welcome at The Table — broken people.
The healing in the broken bread is for those who are broken by life’s harshest blows. This healing is also for those broken by their own sinful choices. This healing is powerfully demonstrated in one chapter where we meet three very different people — very broken people.
We first meet a Centurion who is a good man. The Centurion deserves Jesus’ favor because of his rank and his character (Luke 7:1-10). His servant is very ill, and he longs for Jesus to speak healing into the servant’s life. Jesus does!
We next meet a widow, utterly broken by the death of her son (Luke 7:11-17). She is alone and powerless. So, Jesus raises her son from the dead, and in the beautiful language of Luke, “Jesus gave him back to his mother.”
We also meet a woman broken by her life of sin. She intrudes into a meal at a table where Jesus is invited. She comes to share her extravagant love for Jesus who has saved her from her desperate slavery to her brokenness. While others look down on her, Jesus affirms her faith and blesses her with a life of peace (Luke 7:36-50).
The bread is broken because this bread, this gift of Jesus’ body we hold, was broken. It was broken so we can know that salvation, grace, healing, and Jesus are reachable in our brokenness (Hebrews 2:14-18; Hebrews 4:14-16). When are broken by fear because of the diseases that afflict those we love, we are welcomed by the broken bread. When we are broken by the loss of a loved one to death, we are welcomed to the table of grace that anticipates the great reunion feast of glory. When we are broken by our sin and its consequences, we are welcomed by Jesus to his table to be forgiven, transformed, and sent back out into the world with his peace.
The bread is broken. So are we. Broken people are welcome here — not to wallow in their brokenness, but to rejoice in a Savior who understands it, heals it, and promises us life beyond our brokenness. Our Lord sends us away from this table with his peace to invite other broken people to come to The Table with us so they can…
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.