Late Summer Year B
Every three years, the Revised Common Lectionary gives us John 6 for five straight weeks, and preachers everywhere suspect things might get a little…stale.
“The Gospel According to Bread” is a preaching and worship series meant to help you find something to chew on.
Here’s our thinking: the temptation with the Bread of Life series is to spend five weeks analyzing how to understand bread as a metaphor for Jesus. But Jesus himself is always pointing his listeners away from an intellectual understanding and back towards a physical experience: “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you!” (John 6:53)
The emphasis on experience is reflected in the arc of John 6 itself: it starts with a story, the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Stories short-circuit the desire to intellectually explain what’s happening in this discourse. They redirect us from understanding to participation. We encourage you to follow suit, and leverage stories (most centrally, the Feeding) to connect your congregation to the lived experience of life in Christ.
Somewhat paradoxically, we pray that this series frees you from the need to get your people (or yourself!) to totally get Jesus as the Bread of Life. After all, Jesus never requires that his disciples understand what he’s talking about. He feeds first and raises questions later. The disciples who are left by his side at the end aren’t those who have figured out what he’s talking about. They’re the ones who know that no matter how confusing or provoking Jesus is, there’s nowhere else they can go to find the words of eternal life. We don’t always understand Jesus. But we need him, like daily bread, every single day to sustain and satisfy us.
A set of preaching commentaries for “The Gospel According to Bread” series.
A devotional resource that guides the user(s) through a prayerful experience of bread-eating.
Some crumbs of thought we think are important to hold during this romp through John 6.
A confession written especially for our “The Gospel According to Bread” series, based on John 6.
A Eucharistic Prayer (a.k.a. “Great Thanksgiving”) inspired by John 6.
Prayers of the Day that correspond to the themes identified in the Preachers’ Notes.
How to use this series
Take the opportunity before beginning your preparation for these five weeks to read through all of John 6. We encourage you to then check out these considerations for the season, and pray about your community and its needs in this upcoming season. And then, at last, ask yourself: “What’s my arc going to be?”
Having a plan for how you intend to move with your congregation through the next five weeks will clarify your liturgical and homiletical prep, protecting you from the suspicion that you’re preaching the SAME DANG THING for five weeks in a row.
We’ve provided preaching commentaries for each week of the season to help nudge your planning. We noticed two possible five-weeks arcs that emerged from our collective commentaries. Perhaps you’ll find different ones that work better in your context.
The first arc is thematic: Experience, grace, formation, justice, mystery.
The second is progressive, and could read as a parallel for the Christian life: encounter, justification, and then sanctification in three parts.
Throughout this seeming season-within-a-season, we pray the other resources we’ve provided–including liturgical pieces like a Confession and a Eucharistic Prayer, as well as an Eating Meditation appropriate to use in liturgy or a Bible study–enrich your community’s triennial tromp through John 6.