This year, as many years before, I planned my summer vacation schedule with this stretch of lectionary readings from John 6 in mind. I suspect I am not alone. Five straight weeks of chewing on the bread of life is just a little more than most of us Protestants can stomach. I’m not sure I have that many sermons on the subject in me. So please take my reflections here with a grain of salt. I’ll share with you what I can, but then I’m off to the airport.
Yesterday, the First Family attended worship at St. John's Episcopal Church in DC. I'm on a press advisory e-mail list from the White House Communications Office, which was kind enough to send out this short note:
The gospel in today's mass is John 6:51-58.
Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever ...
What was Jesus thinking? He had such a great following before he spoke. He’d just fed 5,000 people, and they were ready to sign up to become disciples. This would’ve been the time to use his best preaching material—toss out a few Beatitudes, or tell a couple of stories about farmers or sheep. Jesus could have had the biggest church in town.
On the night of the shootings in Dallas that killed five police officers, Michael Waters and Omar Suleiman had known each other barely a year. Waters is pastor of the Joy Tabernacle AME Church; Suleiman is a nationally known Muslim scholar and one of two imams at the Valley Ranch Islamic Center. Both were at the rally in Dallas protesting the police shootings of black men when a gunman started shooting. Together with some parishioners, the two found refuge at Waters’s church, where they spent the night praying and wondering what they could do to stop violence rather than just react to it. They agreed on one thing: though of different religions and ethnicities, they are brothers (Washington Post, July 10).