Welcome, Cheviot churches! We worship together on this 12th Sunday after Pentecost.
As we gather to worship this morning
Let us delight in the works of the Lord
And sing and shout our praises for all the things God has done for us.
Because God is gracious and merciful
And keeps His promises for ever and ever.
Hymn 167 Guide me O thou great Jehovah (verses 1 and 3)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession:
“In Christ there is no east or west,
In Him no south or north,
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth.”
there is no east or west where Christ’s call cannot be heard to draw us to this fellowship of love. There is no place of brokenness in which we cannot see signs of his healing touch.
There is no south or north,
no dwelling place of darkness from which we cannot escape into the light of his love.
There is no home,
no circumstance from which we cannot get away,
no road we cannot travel,
no journey of life we cannot pass through to reach that place where Christ-like souls are one in Him.
No east or west, no south or north,
no place of failure and dejection from which we cannot rise to be blessed at Your mercy seat.
in this house of Your dwelling,
where high communion is found with our brothers and sisters of faith,
in the presence of Your love,
in the wholeness of Christ’s acceptance,
in the warmth of the Spirit’s blessing,
we rejoice in our oneness;
we recognise for Your mercy;
we pray that our fellowship here will be a mirror of Your Kingdom’s grace;
that our worship here will be an echo of heavenly praise;
that our healing here will be a symbol of redemptive power;
that our closeness here will be a sign of the real unity of the whole people of God;
that our time here will be a mark of true communion with You.
As we join together in Jesus’ name and say:
Which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name,
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory.
Ephesians 5, verses 15-20
John 6, verses 51-58
Hymn 465 Be thou my vision (verses 1,2 and 5)
we thank you for the beauty of the created world;
for its wonderful variety and the bounty that it brings forth.
Help us to be good stewards, showing love and friendship to all.
Give us discerning hearts to distinguish between right and wrong so that we may please you and serve our community, bringing warmth and light to our lives.
As those of you who know me can probably tell from my shape, I like nothing more than a good meal, maybe you’re the same.
When you are really hungry it is especially good.
In the olden days, before Covid, Heather than I loved holidaying in France. We did so for many reasons, not the least being that the food there can be exceptional.
It was usually well prepared, well presented and almost always beautifully fresh.
But what made it even better is that usually by the time we sat down to eat in an evening, we were hungry. I don’t know if it was the French fresh air or the fact that we were usually getting a lot of exercise during the day, walking and visiting different places, but the food in France just tasted wonderful.
Not that it doesn’t taste wonderful hear in the Borders too!
The other thing about a good meal is that it settles you down. I don’t know about you but when I get hungry, I get nervous. I get jittery and jumpy. But a good meal settles me down. I am more at peace and relaxed after a good meal.
And of course, a good meal gives me strength. Hunger can make you weak. But a good meal, not one full of empty calories, but a meal that is good and nutritious can give you strength.
That is why they say that breakfast is so important. It gives you energy to get the day off to a good start.
Speaking of good meals - Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.”
Now some of the people who heard Jesus say this thought he was crazy! And can you blame them? If someone came in here talking like that, we would think them crazy. “I am the bread from heaven,” “You must eat my body and drink my blood to be fed.” It sounds like the ranting of a psychopath – Hannibal Lecter perhaps?
Of course, when we hear Jesus talking like this we immediately think of the Last Supper. We think of Holy Communion and the bread and wine that represent Jesus giving his life for us.
And that is right, but Jesus had not yet had the last supper when he said these things. We can’t simply write this off as an allusion to Communion.
Jesus is saying something here that has meaning apart from that reference.
Jesus is saying, “I am the main course.”
The main course of the meal is that part that fills us up and nourishes us the most. The main course is the steak and chips or the lamb and new potatoes. The starters are great and the cheese and the dessert is wonderful. But the main course makes or breaks the meal.
Jesus is saying he is the meat and vegetables for our souls.
Forgive me, but Jesus is “Soul Food”. What came before was good. The law and the prophets provided some nourishment. That bread Moses served as starter was fine. It was prepared by God after all. But Jesus is what really feeds us and gives us life.
Jesus is the main course but we sometimes lose sight of that fact.
There is so much to feed on in the church. There are, when permitted, activities and fellowship and committee meetings.
And all these things are good. But they are just the French Onion soup or the strawberry pavlova that I love so much. They are the starters and the desserts.
Jesus is the main course. It is he who gives us eternal life. By feeding on him and taking him into our hearts and lives we receive life.
You can feed on the starters and and not die, but you will always be malnourished.
We need that main course to truly nourish and sustain us.
I don’t know if it is true but according to legend there was once a king who loved his wife. But she died in child birth. Since he was a king, he ordered a great memorial and mausoleum be built for his wife. Thousands of workers toiled for 17 years. The king dedicated himself to making sure the task was done well. One day near the end of construction a box was found among the construction rubble. They were about to discard it when it was discovered that it was the coffin of his wife. According to legend that memorial is the Taj Mahal
But the King had become so obsessed with the building of a memorial that he forgot it was meant to be a memorial for his wife and a final resting place for her body.
We too need to be careful that in the regular business of our church life we don’t forget the reason for it all, the fact that Jesus is the main course.
Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven.”
Bread was the main staple of people’s diets back then. People received most of their nourishment from bread. But to be nourished by bread you have to eat it. You have to take it into yourself.
And that is the way it is with Jesus. We have to take him in. We have to accept him and ask him into our hearts. We have to let him become part of us.
Too often people try to keep him at arm’s length. For them Jesus is someone or something outside of them. But we have to let him in then he can nourish us.
Then he can give life to our heart and soul.
Jesus is the main course and this main course involves a sacrifice.
Jesus said, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life”
If Jesus had just wanted to talk about accepting him as spiritual nourishment he could have just talked about bread. But he also talks about blood. He is obviously talking about his death on the cross. Through his death Jesus feeds us. His death defeated sin.
And because sin is defeated, we have forgiveness and eternal life.
For that to happen, a sacrifice had to be made.
Many modern people, present company excepted, are out of touch with what goes into preparing our food. They forget that the chicken on their tables was once a live animal and it had to be killed to make their dinner possible - it had to be sacrificed.
The main course that is Jesus required a sacrifice too.
His blood had to be shed. He had to die so that we could be fed.
Eternal life is a free gift for us but it cost Jesus his life!
So, Jesus is the main course.
Are you hungry?
Do you find that you grow weak spiritually?
Do feel jittery and nervous because your soul’s blood sugar is low?
Maybe you need a good meal.
Jesus is the only “Soul Food” that can give eternal life.
Other things may fill the emptiness for a little while, but they are just empty spiritual calories. If we want to be truly filled and never hunger again, we have to feed on Jesus. We have to dine on him. Keep him at the centre of our lives.
Jesus is the bread of life. He died to feed us and give us eternal life.
“This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”
Hymn 616 There’s a spirit in the air (verses 1,3, 6 and 7)
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Thank you, Lord, for your amazing power and work in our lives,
thank you for your goodness and for your blessings over us.
Thank you for your great love and care.
Thank you for your sacrifice so that we might have freedom and life. Forgive us for when we don't thank you enough,
for who you are,
for all that you do,
for all that you've given.
Help us to set our eyes and our hearts on you afresh.
Renew our spirits, fill us with your peace and joy.
We love you and we need you, this day and every day.
We give you praise and thanks,
for You alone are worthy!
Ever present God,
You promise us there is no place we can go where You will not be with us;
no prayers we can offer that You will not hear;
no stumbling words or random thoughts that will not make sense to You.
We are so grateful for that, especially when our prayers are dry,
or vainly repetitive,
And yet You call us to come into fellowship,
to gather all of that together;
clever prayers and ill-conceived ideas;
jumbled phrases and inadequate grammar;
silent yearnings and barren deserts of weeping,
in one place and as one people;
to lay it all before You,
knowing that You will hear what we cannot begin to express;
believing that You will makes sense of what we cannot fully understand.
Listening God, we pray for Your Church:
in its fragility and in its strength;
in its nurture and in its mission;
in its pilgrimage and in its establishment;
in its traditions and in its newness
that it may continue to be what it has always sought to be,
a light in the darkest of places;
a healing for broken lives;
a hope for a searching world.
we pray for our nation,
giving thanks for examples of goodness,
and weeping with those who weep in their poverty, alienation and despair;
looking with admiration at examples of righteousness and condemning evil in whatever form we find it.
we pray for our world,
in all its tension and striving,
wonder and questioning,
beauty and brokenness.
Where there is rejection, we pray that the embrace of acceptance might be offered;
where there is isolation, we pray that the handshake of understanding might be given;
where there are barriers, we pray that the sledge-hammers of justice might beat upon the walls;
where there is pain, we pray that the tenderness of healing might be known;
where there is violence, we pray that the beauty of peace might herald a new dawn;
where there is hopelessness, we pray that the vision of oneness might be a pointer to Your Kingdom.
Attentive God, we pray for those we love,
who, with little encouragement or prompting,
pop into our minds and fill our prayers with their circumstances,
our yearnings with their cries,
our compassion with their tears,
our joy with their smiles,
because we know them so well and love them so much.
God who made us in Your very image,
we pray for ourselves,
for strength on our journey of faith;
for love in our expressions of service;
for healing in body, mind and spirit.
And we give thanks, that even now as we pray for others, many others are praying for us.
Bless us now with Your touch of tenderness;
remind us each new day of Christ’s companionship on the Way;
surround us at all times with the Spirit’s constancy;
bind us always with the Communion of Saints.
Hymn 154 O Lord my God (verses 1 and 4)
Blessing and Benediction:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and - until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you and remain with you,
now and for evermore.
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