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Harvest Thanksgiving

28th April 2019, St Petri. Vicar Shaun Manning

“Come Lord Jesus, be our guest and let this food to us be blessed.” I want us to think about what we mean when we say this… Reason being is that it can be easily misunderstood.

What do we mean when we are inviting the Lord to come and be with us in this meal? Come for a meal we have prepared for you to join?

This understanding alone would be similar to saying to our car manufacturer to come for a drive with us, when they are the ones responsible for the car.

Or even more so a child saying to His mum and dad, come and join me for a meal which they have purchased, prepared and provided.

Hang on a second, am I your guest or are you mine?

Are you the provider of this meal or am I?

There is nothing wrong with saying this prayer of grace but I am just challenging us to think about what it means.

Don’t get me wrong I think this prayer assumes the fact the Lord does give, has given and continues to give everything we have but there is no harm is rehashing this from time to time. He is not the Lord just because we recognise Him to be, He is regardless if we recognise it or not. It doesn’t change Him or His reality when we recognise Him as Lord, but it definitely changes ours.

It is a prayer that calls upon the Lord to be present our table, in our family as we give thanks to you for all you have provided for us.

The Catechism’s pre-meal grace touches on this more succinctly. Do you know it? We started with it at the beginning of our service today. “Bless us and these thy gifts which we receive from your bountiful goodness.” Giving is good but we/you are not the Lord. We are used by the Lord so let us never forget all that we have comes from Him.

By saying… “Come Lord Jesus” we may be treating Him as some addition… The Lord isn’t some addition to your life but is your life, sustains your life and has granted you eternal life.

We are called to use these gifts for Him and His kingdom … not to simply fill stomachs and make money.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.”

Seeking… what does it mean to seek the Lord Jesus, and can we do it and do we?

And if we can, what is our motivation for seeking the Lord?

The Lord can truly search the heart and know our motivations.

And here He sees that their motivation is not to see Him as Lord but as provider, a somewhat divine bellboy who we give us what we want and need.

Do some of us do this? Most definitely. Our motivations are almost always flawed, we very much prone to think of human concerns of our stomach, bank accounts, sexual desires and social pleasures than we are the things of God and His kingdom.

We also have a habit of deciphering who is genuine in their seeking of the Lord or not. This is not in and of itself but it is if we think we are infallible in our labelling of who is genuine and who is not in Worship especially.

Jesus knew this about the crowds but didn’t turn them away. He also knows this about us but doesn’t turn us away. Rather He looks to remind us of our tendency to strive after what is temporary rather than what is eternal.

What does it mean to ‘labour’ for that which endures to eternal life in comparison to food that perishes. (Stomach vs is God’s Word “man shall not live on bread alone”. “do not worry about what you will eat…” “do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth but rather…”) Jesus says that the Heavenly Father knows that you need such things, He knows that you need company, need your stomach full but seek first His kingdom, Jesus says, and all these things will be added.

Trinitarian aspect: Christ has been sealed by the Father so what Christ gives is divine and endures to eternal life. Examples?…

28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” They’re looking for a ‘work’ to do and so Jesus gives them a work of God, which is just that a work of God… God works faith, so that we are able to believe in the One He has sent.

God commands faith, provides a faithful One and also works faith in us, as a gift. Just as He commands prayer, provides a prayer and prays with us in Christ, by His Spirit.

‘Signs’… big in John’s Gospel. He had already performed a sign at Cana as well as His dealings with them til this point. However they still request something to show them why they should believe. This is a prime example of why they need a faithful One and one to work faith. Their own faith is fleeting and inconsistent even though they had already seen and heard Him do miraculous works already. Much like the Israelites, with Moses and others, still complained and lacked faith despite the waters parting in the Red Sea for them.

God imparts the waters of Baptism but that is still not enough for us.

Offers His body and blood but we are still ungrateful and look to do things for Him rather than receive from Him.

The crowds wanted to know how to do the works of God and Jesus gives them a long list of things to do on the synagogue roster… no… He calls them to believe more in Him, recognise Him as the Divine Lord, provider and call them away from confidence in-self, which comes from a sinful attitude of self-sufficiency.

You want something to do? Believe more deeply in the Lord, the Lord of your life who has granted you life with at the font. Grow in reliance and trust in the Lord of your Baptism, discover and re-discover what He has done for you in your Baptism and what it means for you now and eternally. Kneel at the altar, receive His forgiveness and the power it gives to live out your life as a child of His in your vocation.

32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”

Not only is this periscope reminiscent of the Israelites but the woman at the well (John 4). As well as the whole biblical narrative in fact.

Reminds me of the woman at the well, “show me so that I may drink of it always”… Jesus reminds them of the obvious, that God the Father was and is the true source of the manna not Moses or anyone else.

The Father has raised the stakes… not just sending bread/manna from Heaven but Bread of Life. This bread never runs out, for it is eternal and encompasses truth. For He is eternal, He is truth and He is the Way.

“we don’t know the way…” is similar to the above statement “Lord, give us this bread always” “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”… He says to Phillip… “The One standing with you, I am He” He says to the woman at the well (John 4).

And here Jesus says, “I am the bread of life” He says here… it is me not something He will give, I am the Gift.

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.”

What the Father is giving is not something to fill the stomach, load the bank accounts and comfort the body. But to give you His Son, the bread of life. This is the Son who gives life eternal because we don’t have it apart from Him. This premises that what we have apart from Him is perishable.

We should ask the Lord to be amongst us, as we eat and do anything as the epistle reminded us. But the true and divine invitation is “Come to me” (show pic of trinity with mirror). “Come and dine with us”.

This what we get when we consume the bread of life in faith.

This is what occurs in Holy Communion… we are invited to dine with the divine and consume the bread of life literally. Jesus later in this chapter goes on to say that those who eat His flesh and drink His blood have eternal life and He will raise them up on the Last day.

This is why God Almighty, invites us for the sake of His Son, the One who has made us worthy to dine with them.

We invited to this divine meal so that we can witness to this Divine love to others by hosting others as Christ hosts us here.

By having strangers in your home, serving and feeding them is partaking in what God in Christ has done and does for you. Strangers to God but now made dear children of the Heavenly Father by Christ sharing His inheritance with us.

A famous Christian once reflected on his faith, exclaiming “I’m just a beggar, who founds living bread.” You and I can now be beggars, who tell other beggars where to find bread, the living bread of life who satisfies all hunger of the human soul.

When we have fellow beggars who are strangers in our home or life, it starts to challenge what we think of our time, our possessions and the fruits of our labour. Is it for us to live on and be comfy or is to be in service to God and neighbour??

Think about it for a moment… using up petrol, money or time on some random in comparison to your wife, kids or family members. Of course we are suppose to prioritise our vocations as mothers, fathers, husbands, wives etc. But is that it? Is that our only call?

We also have a call to love our enemy: If you love those who love you back, what gain is that? Welcome the stranger: Jesus’ quote about banquets… Luke 14

12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

My goodness me, that is challenging…

Hebrews 13 about welcoming the stranger.

13 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honour among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

May God grant us the wisdom and awareness our who is the true source of our belongings, gifts, time and resources so that we are better able to give Him thanks for all we have and use them for His kingdom and His mission.

And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus, the bread of life. Amen

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