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 do young people look for in church? In research done in 250 congregations among people ages 15–29, respondents repeatedly said they were looking for congregations that were “welcoming, accepting, belonging, authentic, hospitable, and caring.” The researchers began to call this set of concerns the “warmth cluster.” Worship bands and ministry programs are not a priority, nor is busyness. Even “niceness” doesn’t work with young people. What they apparently seek at church is a sense of family, which calls for intergenerational relationships (Washington Post, September 6).